Monday, January 31, 2011

When Desperation Pays Off

Any business owner who has spent any amount of time around me has heard me say, “No…that makes you look desperate,” in response to ad copy, a sales pitch, or some other effort to close a deal or bring in business. No one wants to look desperate. And with rare exception does anyone want to work with someone who is desperate. It’s typically just not good business.

But what if you truly are desperate? The good news is, you may be in luck.

While appearing desperate is almost never good, handling desperation creatively and aggressively can actually pay off in a big way. Here’s why.

When we’re in our comfort zone, we don’t want to risk making a mistake and losing what we have. We tend, in general, to become less aggressive in the way we think and, therefore, the way we act. As money tightens up, clients leave us, or other situations arise that take us out of our comfort zone, we become more willing to stretch ourselves and try new avenues to get back where we want to be.

In reflecting on the highs and lows of my career, I’ve realized that what I (and most people) would consider to be my high points were actually nothing more than the times when I’ve had the most clients, made the most money, or had the most toys. The more I’ve pondered my path and experiences along the way, the more I’ve realized my real highs—the times I’ve been the most creative, aggressive, passionate, driven—have been when I’m “down.” Interesting.

If we step back from the popular view that being successful is directly correlated to money, and instead tie our success to innovation and the good we do for those we serve, the only thing keeping us from success is ourselves. Yes, there may be a period of time during the learning curve when money may be scarce. This is true in any pursuit. But a firm belief in this principle will always result in a match between needs and resources.

So, if desperation is at our doorstep…if we genuinely have nothing to lose…we may be in the best place of all. No mistake will take us further down. No misstep will cause us to lose what we have (because we have nothing). At this moment, we can look at someone who has successfully taken a direction we never thought we could travel because of our limitations. We can formulate our plan. And we can act on it without reservation. After all, we have nothing to lose.

In a strange twist of irony, it’s at these moments so many of us seem to perform best. This is when we look the most confident to others. Our desperation positively charges our efforts and makes us what we should have been when we were “up.”

The challenge after realizing this truth is to harness our ability to act boldly when we don’t feel the pressure of imminent destruction closing in on us. Only in this way can we remain far from the cliff’s edge and consistently continue our ascent to higher pinnacles of success.

Here’s to your confident success!

Bryan Waldon Pope


  1. Profundity R U. Any deeper introspection and I feel like adopting you. SeriousLee, thanks for the thinkies. Cheers, Lee

  2. Yes! I totally agree!

    I have often wondered what drives sports teams to the same greatness in the final minutes of a championship game. How does a football team start at their 5 yard line and score a touch down in less then 45 seconds with no time outs!?!

    It's incredible what we are capable of when we place ourselves in the proper frame of mind.

    Here's to thinking as if there is no where to go but up!

  3. Thanks for checking in, Lee. You always make me smile! I always appreciate your "thinkies" as well.

    James, you hit on the very point I was heading at in my last paragraph. I know that's what sets champions apart from others in the fray. I find myself too often missing opportunities because I'm comfortable. Perhaps thinking of it as a win/lose scenario like a game will help me push for those extra points. Thanks for sharing!