Fire Energy Suckers

About a month ago I received a telephone call from a client.  He was furious.   He had just received a phone call from his bookkeeper that made his blood boil.

Here’s the story:

Joe (my client) is an attorney in a practice area that was particularly hard hit by the changing dynamics of the economy.  Just four years ago he was pulling in seven figures.  By contrast, last year he was lucky to have a month where he brought home $10,000.  He tried to “gut it out” (his words).  But his cash flow was nonexistent and because he never adjusted his lifestyle, he was deep in debt.

By the time Joe began working with me (seven months ago) his credit cards were maxed out and he had an investment property in foreclosure.

When you are under this kind of financial pressure it can be debilitating.

Joe and I reinvented his practice and scaled back his expenses.  And last month, for the first time in years, he was able to pay all of his monthly obligations and still have a little left over to take his family to the movies.

Just when Joe was feeling a little better about his financial situation, the phone rang and on the other end of the line was Marie his bookkeeper.  Joe hated speaking with Marie.  It was not because his financial picture was bleak for such a long time; it was because of the way she made him feel during their conversations.

Marie was the kind of person who told her clients what to do.  She didn’t give advice in a nurturing fashion.  She TOLD.  And if the client resisted, she STEAMROLLED.

After a call with Marie, Joe always felt as if he had run a marathon.  All energy would be drained from his body and he would be depressed.

This dysfunctional relationship came to a head on that fateful day last month.  Joe sent Marie his expense statements and a few meals were categorized as business expenses.   Marie called Joe and asked for the receipts from the meals.  Joe could not find them and responded that Marie should just book the items as they appeared on his credit card bill.  Marie persisted.  She said she would have to categorize the expenses as distributions (which would create a tax issue for Joe) because he did not have the receipts.

Joe blew his top.  He raised his voice and exclaimed that this was his business and, if he wanted something classified a certain way, for internal accounting purposes, his bookkeeper should do it.

Then Marie crossed the line.  She said: “Joe, your financial difficulties demonstrate your lack of knowledge of accounting procedure.  If you knew what you were doing you would not be in this mess in the first place.”

Joe hung up the phone and a few minutes later called me. He was emotional.  He said he did not need anyone to remind him about his financial situation.  He said he could tell by the clothes his kids were wearing (at least one size too small) and by the wear and tear on his seven-year-old business suits, that he was experiencing financial hardship.  He said every time he drove to work and ignored the “check engine” light on his car (because he couldn’t afford to have it serviced); he was reminded of his financial situation.

He asked for my advice on how he should handle the situation with his bookkeeper.

The advice I gave Joe applies to everyone – regardless of their financial situation.

Immediately discontinue all relationships with people who consistently and repeatedly make you feel bad.  People who make you feel insignificant, inferior or weak have their own insecurities.  Get rid of them.  It makes no difference if they are friends, clients, vendors or family.  Banish them from your life.

There are two types of people in the world:  People who energize you and make you feel good and people who suck the life out of you and make you feel bad.  In difficult situations the energizers will offer solutions.  In those same situations, the energy suckers will keep pointing out the problem.

Life is short.  Make a concerted effort to rid your life of the people who focus on the negative and drain your energy.

The day Joe fired his bookkeeper he said he felt like a giant weight had been lifted off his back.

One of the best things about life is that you get to start over each and every day.  When you surround yourself with people who help you find solutions; when you limit your circle of influence to people who only look at possibilities; when you make a conscious choice to eliminate negativity from your life; you are setting yourself up for success.

Is there someone in your life who is weighing you down?  Isn’t it time you did something about that?

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