The Competitive Advantage: Facts, Face ‘Em, Focus on ‘Em, Go Forward

By | July 11, 2016

One well-known youth program in the U.S. is 4-H, which stands for head, hands, heart and health. The concept is for youths to learn a whole-health approach to life. The whole-health life approach is a proven successful way to balance lives in our 24-hour world.

I became familiar with 4-H through my grandmother, who was a state leader. She also introduced me to a similar acronym, 4-F. Many people are familiar with the military 4-F, especially readers old enough to remember the draft. The 4-F was either a godsend or an embarrassment for many men. It meant the young man was declared insufficiently capable of performing adequately to serve the military. Maybe it was flat feet or bad eyesight or more serious issues like those sung about by Arlo Guthrie in Alice’s Restaurant.

This was not the 4-F my grandmother had in mind. She proposed that people should aspire to the 4-F club and her definition of 4-F was: facts, face ’em, focus on ’em, go forward. That is a pretty good way of dealing with life, especially when dealing with unpleasant aspects.

I have spent interminable hours, days, weeks, and months trying to fathom why some client or a producer cannot see a particular fact if it were broadcast in huge letters on a stadium screen, and they were the only person in the stadium. If by chance they recognized the words as a fact, they would inevitably think the fact was meant for someone else. They cannot face facts and therefore, the facts do not exist for them.

For example, their sales are inadequate so they must sell. That is a fact for many producers, except it is not a fact for them! A similar example is a producer that does not produce and an owner that cannot face the fact that the producer will never produce.

Another fact involves owner compensation. A key reason many agency partnerships dissolve is because one owner does far more work than another, but they are both paid the same. The owners not doing as much work cannot, for the life of them, see the fact (much less face the fact) that they are being heavily subsidized by their partner. The result is a high degree of unfairness. Sometimes they can’t see the fact because their fear blinds them. They fear losing the income, and if compensation was commensurate with results, they cannot begin to see they have the opportunity to make just as much if they will only work for it. One has to see a fact before they can face a fact.

Another example is that companies, with a few exceptions (maybe), are no longer agencies’ partners. They are your competitors. This is a fact, maybe an easier one to recognize, but I find few agency owners will face this fact, focus on it, and strategically move forward.

When facts are so clear and yet a person cannot see them, they have an emotional blindness every bit as strong as a person without sight. For everyone else, the situation is frustrating, and infuriating. No matter how much a person likes the fact-blind person, the stark difference where the facts are spotlighted in black, 100-point font on a pure white background for everyone to see and yet, the fact-blind person does not see it makes the situation quickly personal. “How can they not see it?”

Typically, the fact-blind person becomes passive-aggressive. These situations usually go on for years costing an emotional toll. The fact-blind cannot see the facts if the facts do not fit their reality. Their reality is: I cannot take a pay cut even if I do not earn what I am paid ,and I cannot face facts if the facts do not present me in a positive light. There is even a test that will identify salespeople and salesowners prone to not seeing unpleasant facts pertaining to their performance.

Fear Driven

Others must face the fact the other person is fact-blind and their blindness is usually fear driven. Then focus on solutions which likely will be unpleasant, and then go forward. One key is to change the other person’s reality. If it is a partnership, change reality by not treating them as an equal. Leave the agency and start a new agency. Force their hand. If it is a producer, change their contract. If you think they are eventually going to come around on their own, then you are not facing facts. The reality of the situation must be changed.

Another solution is to pay for these people to undergo high-quality therapy. I am not a psychologist, but I have consulted with several high-quality psychologists on these situations during my career. If you can get a person started, the results can be transforming.

I have consulted on so many projects where some form of pure emotional blindness to stark, critical facts existed and these are the only two solutions I have found that have any reasonable chance of success. Facts, face ’em, focus, go forward.

Face ‘Em

Another fact is that most agency owners are conflict adverse. Most are severely conflict adverse. This is why tumultuous business relationships continue for years. The emotionally blind do “see” the fact, but the other partner is conflict-adverse and then takes advantage of it. This is why reality must be changed in these situations if you want resolution.

To move forward for a conflict-adverse person in a situation like this, on their own, is an unreasonable expectation. If you are conflict adverse, you will need a coach, and that is not a sin or an indication of a weakness. It is just a fact to face, accept and move forward. Let the third party coach you or even do the heavy lifting for you. Either way, you have changed reality in that you identified a solution and moved forward executing that solution.

Opportunities are fantastic for those who adopt the 4-F philosophy. An opportunity exists to develop strength to deal with unpleasant facts with less stress. Maybe even the new web-based cognitive software will be required, but life will improve.

Last, but not least, one of the great advantages of owning an agency rather than working within one or working for a company is the opportunity to be completely proactive. If one is fact-blind but can see enough to seek help before reality changes, you get to protect your reputation, lifestyle, and your good fortune. No red tape needs to be involved. No need exists to ask a boss for permission. It is your opportunity and your choice to adapt the awesome 4-F lifestyle. What choice will you make?

About Chris Burand

Burand is the founder and owner of Burand & Associates LLC based in Pueblo, Colo. Phone: 719-485-3868. E-mail: chris@burand-associates.com. More from Chris Burand

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Insurance Journal West July 11, 2016
July 11, 2016
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