Catch 22 of Inaction

I can’t tell you how many times people have told me that they need to bring in more clients before they can invest in either the training or the marketing that would allow them to bring in more clients. And while it’s easy to immediately recognize the flawed catch-22 logic of this situation, I can tell you that those struggling with customer acquisition right now are often blind to this fact and paralyzed into inaction.

David:                   Hi and welcome to the podcast. Today co-host Chris Templeton and I will be talking about the Catch 22 of Inaction. Welcome Chris.

Chris:                     Hi David! You know when you talk about this Catch 22 of Inaction, you’re not really talking about people being lazy or unmotivated, are you? I mean they could be working hard, putting in a ton of hours and sometimes all that action just does not create what they want in terms of sales.

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David:                   And that's exactly what happens. And you're right, it's not about being lazy. It's not about being unmotivated and they could be working a lot. In fact, a lot of them are. They're doing a lot of things that maybe are not working the way that they'd like. So yeah, it's not necessarily inaction in the sense of not doing anything. It's inaction in the sense of the wrong action. They're taking the wrong action. So maybe we should call it the Catch 22 of Incorrect Action.

Chris:                     Ooh, I like that.

David:                   Maybe that would be a better description. But really what we're looking at is having conversations with people who are too afraid to move forward because they seem to be stuck with whatever it is that they're doing.

Chris:                     So, talk about that. Talk a little bit about when a client says to you, “You know, I need to get clients for my business, but you know, I just can't afford to spend anything on training or advertising that would allow me to start attracting those people.” What do you say to them?

David:                   I say, what are you talking about? No, I don't say that. That's what I think. That's my inner monologue.

Chris:                     Are you kidding me?

David:                   It's a catch 22 you can't see that? You don't see that? Seems so obvious, but it always seems obvious to us when we know. It's like if you were playing chess with Bobby Fischer or whoever the current chess champion of the world is, that person is going to immediately recognize things that you might not always see. And so many business people, they love what they're doing, they're great at what they're doing, but they're not necessarily great at attracting the customers who need what they sell. So, they don't quite know how to do that. And so, they're doing things, they're taking actions that they think are going to help, but that, in effect, don't help. So, what I actually tell them is I first try to point out the catch 22 and in a lot of cases that's not particularly effective. I say, “Well listen, in a sense you're saying it takes money to make money and I don't have any money, therefore I can't make money, but I'm in business anyway.” So you need to sort of see it for what it is. Some people do see it, and some convince themselves that they're completely powerless and they insist on waiting until things get better. And I've heard that from more people than you'd think, where it's like, well, I can't do anything right now. I just need to wait until things get better and things do not just normally get better, particularly when you're taking the same action. It's Einstein's definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. We've all heard that a hundred times, but it lives, you know that statement lives on because it's so true. Those who see it, those who recognize, okay, I'm going to have to do something different, I'm going to have to break this cycle; can sometimes pull themselves out of it and take some action. They can say, all right, you know what? I'm going to find the money or I'm going to allocate the money. Even if it's a little, I'm going to set something aside to try to get something going here, and if they're willing and able to do that, then they can start to create different results, but the people who convince themselves that it really is a catch 22 I will absolutely do this once things get better. In a sense there's almost no hope for them, and I hate to say that, and it's not like there's completely no hope for them, but in a lot of cases, if they don't change that mindset, it's going to be very difficult for them to succeed.

Chris:                     One of the things that I think about a lot is you can have two types of thoughts. One is problem-oriented thinking and the other is solution and I think what happens is, when you're in waiting mode, you've become beholden to those thoughts of the problem. You know? And I saw something recently that said, instead of saying I don't have the money to do that, how could I find the money to do that? Or I don't have the time to do that. If you switch the question, just change the question a little bit to, how could I find the time to do that? That alone can start to break that stuck in waiting mode.

David:                   Yeah, it does. Because by changing the question, you're actually programming your brain to give you a better answer. When you tell your brain, I can't afford this. Your brain says, okay, I don't need to think about that, but if you change the question as you just suggested to how can I afford this? Then your brain says, Hmm, how could I afford this? Because most people in business are spending money every day, every week, every year on overhead that is not contributing one thin dime to their profitability and we waste money, month after month, not even recognizing it. We don't ever realize we're spending this money anymore, but it's consuming. It continues to go regardless of whether or not we're bringing in more revenue. So, if you recognize that and you say, Hey, look, I'm putting out money every month, either way. What if I were to try to re-channel some of that into something that would help me to bring more money in? Then at least you're on the right path.

Chris:                     And to go back a little bit, you think about waiting. If you think of that as procrastination, really what you're talking about is this constant barrage of telling yourself that I don't have enough money, enough time, whatever the case may be, and really making that change to something that's much more solution-oriented is going to make all the difference in the world.

David:                   Yeah, and you're also delegating to reactivity. I don't even know if that's a real term, but what you're doing is you're saying, I'm going to wait until some unnamed force, or some thing happens to make things better. I'm going to wait and I'm going to react to something that I don't even know is there. I remember Zig Ziglar had a great quote. He said, “Don't wait for your ship to come in if you haven't sent one out.” And I thought that's a great quote. And a lot of people do that. It's like I'm waiting for my ship to come in and once my ship comes in, man, I'm going to do this. I'm going to invest in advertising. I'm going to invest in my training, my education, I'm going to train my salespeople. I'm gonna do all this stuff when my ship comes in, and they haven't sent a ship out. And there's another great one, Earl Nightingale, I remember hearing this, years and years ago. He said a lot of people, they'll approach it as if they're approaching a furnace and they're saying to the furnace, give me heat and then I'll add the wood. And it doesn't work like that. You've got to be more proactive. And when you're waiting, when you're delegating to reactivity and essentially saying, okay, when this good thing happens out of the blue sky, it just is going to happen. Then when that happens, then I'll take action. You never control your own destiny that way. You can never control your own destiny if you're going to wait for some unnamed thing to happen before you're willing to take action.

Chris:                     And you must see this over and over again. I, as I understand that you've done lots of trade shows over the years. You must see people coming back year after year with the same problem. And it's gotta be kinda heartbreaking.

David:                   Yeah. Yes and no. When it comes to people coming back year after year, suffering from the same problems. And the reason I say that is that some people do return. A lot of them are embarrassed, you know, particularly if we had talked, the previous year, about something they wanted to do and they didn't take action on it. A lot of times they're embarrassed, like, yeah, you know, we talked about doing that and then we didn't and I got sidetracked and other stuff, but I did put together a new website and that didn't do anything. We talked about that in a previous podcast. Yeah, so some of them are embarrassed and a lot of them are out of business. Frankly, that's what happens. We've met people at trade shows, we've talked to them afterwards. We followed up about helping them with what they were looking to accomplish and a lot of them are like, well, when this happens, when that happens, then we'll do it and we would stay in touch with them. We'd stay in touch with them a few weeks at a time, a few months later it was always, "not yet, not yet." And then eventually you call, and they're gone. They're out of business. They just couldn't do it because they were waiting for this unnamed thing to happen, that just never happened. I think reactivity is deadly... And maybe that should be the title of the podcast. I think reactivity is deadly when we are just waiting for some outside thing to happen instead of taking charge of our lives, taking charge of our careers, taking charge of our actions, we're just asking for trouble.

Chris:                     We are, and I just think it's so sad that people get stuck in that and just don't see how to get out of it and thinking about what you can do to be more solution-oriented is a great start. But in terms of somebody saying to you, you know, I just don't have the money, or somebody just can't find the energy to do what they need to do. What do you think they should be doing if they say, I can't afford this?

David:                   Well, they might want to start with questioning why they're in business at all. Because if they're in business to create value in the world and create value in the universe and deliver value to their clients and make the lives of their clients better and to earn a good living as a result of it, then they owe it to the people that they want to serve, to get out in front of them and let them know how they can help. And so if they are unwilling to do that, if they're unwilling to invest the time, the energy, the effort, the money, the resources, or even to invest a little bit to figure out what it is that they need to do to make it happen, then they should really think about why am I in business? There are some people who start a business because they maybe they think it's easy. There's a great quote from the author of the E myth, Michael Gerber, and he said, “A lot of people, they go into business for themselves because they're working for somebody that they don't like and they say, this guy's an idiot and I don't want to work for an idiot.” And then they start working for themselves and they find themselves working for a lunatic cause they're lunatics! They don't know what they're doing! So, I go from working for an idiot to working for myself, and it doesn't often look better in some cases.

Chris:                     No kidding. Michael Gerber, The E Myth what a fabulous book. Great business. Okay, so let's talk about what are the action steps listeners should take if they want to overcome the catch 22 of inaction, or the delegating to reactivity. You've coined that phrase and I'm gonna write it down.

Steps to Overcome the Catch-22 of Inaction

  1. Start by determining if you have the knowledge and resources necessary to operate a business.
  2. If You Think You Have the Knowledge, put it to the test. Implement what you know as quickly as possible to see if it generates the results you need. If it doesn't, there's more you need to know.
  3. If You Have the Resources, invest in the knowledge. You need both to be successful (knowledge and resources.) But you can often use one to generate the other.
  4. Put the Wood In First. Don't expect results to happen without the appropriate fuel.

David:                   Okay. Well, I'd start with determining if you have the knowledge and or the resources necessary to operate a business and just look at this objectively. It's not an accusation, it's nothing like that. It's just a question of looking and saying, okay, do I know what I need to know in order to do this effectively? Do I have the resources necessary to operate a business, to be able to continue to pay the overhead, to be able to hire a virtual assistant if I need it, to be able to invest in my own training and education? So, it's not just operational knowledge. If I am a painter and I know how to paint, that's great, but if I don't know how to attract people who need painting, then I'm not going to likely be in business for a long time. Second thing, if you think you have the knowledge, then implement it as quickly as possible. If it's not working, if what you're doing is not working - then that means you don't have the knowledge, right? You thought you did, you tried it, it didn't work, so you need to get it. If you're doing things and it's working, great, do more of that. If you're doing things and it's not working, recognize that you've got a gap there. You've got a gap in knowledge that needs to be filled. Third, if you have the resources, meaning the money but not the knowledge, then invest in the knowledge, right? So, if you've got the knowledge you can put it to use and then you can make money. If you've got the money, you can invest in the education and then you can have the knowledge. That's how it starts. So, if you have the resources, you invest in the knowledge, you implement what you learn, and then you can generate the revenue you need. So it's a matter of how am I starting am I starting with knowledge, or am I starting with resources. If you're starting with both even better, and finally just put the wood in first, you know, the time, the energy, the effort, the money. Don't expect it to happen reactively. Don't just wait for the universe to give it to you because generally speaking, the universe wants to see you do a little something before it starts providing the benefits.

Chris:                     Boy, so true, so true. And at some level it's that recognition and I think Michael Gerber points it out in his book as well as this idea that until you have a regular income coming through the door, nothing else is important. Then start talking about systems once you've got that down. But regular income is everything, isn't it?

David:                   Yeah. And one of the other things that Gerber talks about is that people will end up systematizing things that don't work, and that's really what we were touching on as well. If you've got a process in place and you're doing it and it's not generating the results you want and you keep doing it again and again and again, you've now systematized a broken system and that doesn't work

Chris:                     So true. Okay, great podcast, David. Really good. Let's talk about what's coming up in the next one.

David:                   Okay. In our next podcast, Chris, we'll be talking about why most businesses are essentially invisible and how they can fix it.

Chris:                     Excellent. Looking forward to it. Thank you so much. Go to find out what David and his team can do for your business. We will see you next time, David! Thank you!

David:                   Thank you, Chris.

If you're tired of flat or declining sales and losing business to your competitors, be sure to check out my latest web presentation entitled Programming Clients to Choose You. Who are your very best prospects currently programmed to buy from? Is it you or someone else? If you want it to be, you, visit and register for the free presentation now. That's

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