Preferences in the Way

I’ve been working with a variety of professionals – doctors, lawyers, financial advisors, speakers, authors, consultants, copywriters – for 36 years now, focused on how they can best achieve their stated goals. The vast majority engage in all kinds of behavior in conflict with those stated goals, and then grow disgruntled and even bitter about not achieving them. This misbehavior is not as obvious as, say, taking a Caribbean cruise and complaining about never seeing polar bears, but it is functionally the same. Further, most people actually prefer their delusions and excuses to facts and action on facts; prefer their delusions and excuses to accomplishment.

Favored, clung-to delusions about creating a successful writing life with ample income and clientele are many. The Business of Copywriting Academy that I conducted last year was all about setting delusions aside and working on a practical plan for business, income and clientele development based on the facts of why and how clients are obtained, monetized, managed and kept.

When I was in my very first year in one of my advice-professions – speaking – I went to a conference session in which the speaker dispelled popular delusions about speaking for money and then laid out a practical plan he’d proven for making money by speaking from day one, absent reputation, clients, booking agents. It was eerily close to the plan I’d figured out for myself, with which I was grinding out about $8,000 a month in income – but he had a few good wrinkles I hadn’t thought of.

When he started, there were about 200 in the room, attracted by the “Make Money Now” topic. When he ended, there were fewer than 20. The others all walked out, offended at his blunt talk, but even more offended and angered by his attack on their treasured delusions. They preferred keeping their delusions intact to facts they could actually use to achieve their goals. They left. I took notes.

At my Business of Copywriting Academy, only one, at most two, exited with refund, offended. The rest stayed – in part because I’d been clear ahead of time that favored delusions needed to be checked at the door. Some found parts of their time with me painful, though. Valuable, but painful. A few were excited start to finish, as they’d already surrendered fantasy and were very eager for reality.

The big delusion of this (and virtually every other field) is that getting good and better and better at the core deliverable buys success, when, in reality, that is nothing beyond the minimum ante to be in the game. Gary Halbert once told me, with other copywriters present, that the client pays us FOR copywriting but not BECAUSE OF it.

The others missed the point or ignored it since it was in conflict with their delusions and interest (writing). I wrote it down.

Ultimately, you get to decide whether you are going to be passionately interested in and get good at only What clients pay for, or give equal passionate interest to Why and How clients become and stay clients and pay top compensation.

You aren’t alone in making this decision. Chiropractors and dentists must make it too, and they are burdened by having invested eight years and a small fortune in preparing only for the What. Name the business and the same choice exists. And, always, the person achieving his goals of a prosperous, perhaps prominent, stable and sustainable business yielding satisfactory income or wealth has made one choice – the 80% to 95% in his field endlessly struggling and endlessly frustrated and disappointed have made another.

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The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: January 26, 2011

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