The Pros of Cons

They seem to be in every aspect of life and are as common as a cold: They are “professionals” who can convince anyone and everyone that, despite a lack of results inside a company or without building a successful company of their own (or a successful track record of visible measurable performance anywhere), they are the ones to “trust.” These “pros” are “the ones” to do business with. They can persuade you to trust your dollars, your company, your time, your resources, and your reputation to them. They can persuade you to pay them, trade with them, do things for them, all on a promise of what they will do—or can do—for you. They will make you as “successful” as they are.

Razzle Dazzle Dance

They are good. No, they are great. They have the gift of persuasion. The personas may differ. Some don the demeanor of the seasoned executive with decades of experience. Others take on the milder image of the helpful and well-meaning missionary with a purpose and higher calling, drawing you into their cause … then they “help” you.

These pros are very capable of selling. They are artful in moving from group to group and target to target. They manage to deliver nothing but promises, and as they move along leaving chaos and dissatisfaction (at a minimum) behind them, they are able to maintain an aura that prevents criticism from sticking, and NO success. They perform their “razzle dazzle,” and the next victim steps up to dance and lets them lead him down the path.

The Art of the Pro’s Con

How does it happen? It happens as does any good con, because of the belief that we are different and smart and we are able to tell the difference. What others may caution us about, or what others may actually share as their experience, is brushed off by the pro as “sour grapes.” The pro assures us that the other person didn’t “get it” or “wasn’t willing to do what was necessary, wasn’t of the caliber, or missed the point.” It’s always “all the other person’s fault.” It will always be a result of “the other person,” according to the pro. And we will be different because we know (and so does the pro) that we have what it takes.

What the pro uses is our smarts, our intelligence, our savvy, and our self-confidence; that’s what reels us in. It is our own abilities that enable the hook to be set when the pro starts fishing. We take the bait, because we are capable and we do have the ability to get things done. If we didn’t, the pro wouldn’t be fishing for what we have.

The Cost of the Con

At this point, it is important to make a distinction between the occasion when you will hire a consultant or a professional that just isn’t the right fit. Say the professional works hard and knows their business, but the methods and your style just don’t mesh. In those cases, the professional will be a professional and preserve his/her reputation and your funds and part ways with you. You can tell the difference because the professional will quick to tell you about:

  • potential overruns on the project;
  • a need for your team to take ownership of the deliverables;
  • places where costs could be saved;
  • other issues and opportunities.

The con lets you be surprised and avoids giving you the list of things your organization needs to do and make happen, the deliverables and milestones that are critical to achieving project success, or points out when another professional (lawyer, accountant, marketer) may be more appropriate or cost effective to use.

The Pro Fishes for Capability and Resources

The pros of the con are capable of persuading you to use what you have and what you know, make it available for their cause, and pay them for their assistance in improving your results. And when results don’t materialize for you, the lack of results will be from your inability to execute or grasp the concepts. You will join the crowd of those who have gone before: “the incapable and dissatisfied,” the former customers and associates who experienced the cons. If your pro is good, you may for a time wonder if you are missing the point, if you are missing the opportunity, and you just need to put more time, effort, thought, resources, and commitment into the project or venture. What you are experiencing is the pro fishing for deeper commitment, looking for an opportunity to reel in the prize. Don’t take the bait! Slip the hook and run for deeper water!

Open Water: Swim, Swim

The reasons the con works again and again is that the pros know how to fish. They have perfected the art of the lure. They know how to conceal the hook inside the bait. They also know how to identify the fish with the best potential: real ideas, capability, credibility, resources, and ability to execute. The pro of the business con is a person that has some degree of basic content enough to make the bait look real and enough to conceal the hook. But look beyond the surface and check before you bite. Don’t swallow the line that is being cast hook, line, and sinker before you get a chance to see who is really doing the fishing.

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