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Ok, the cover image for this article is #FAKE! Isn’t that the point, though? How easy is it for an advertiser, youtube creator, or any other promoter to push a miracle cure in a bottle without knowing it helps? The picture is fun, it captures our mind, and if you are like me, spiders are not most of our friends. They belong on the other side of the glass.┬áMy hope for you, as you read through the rest of this article, is that the image above isn’t one of those that cause you to say, I cannot look away! I was going to put up the dog with squirrel scene, but alas, copy-write permissions say we are stuck with the spider.

There are two perspectives on this concept of hope over hype. There is the person who is offered something not being, well, gullible. And there is the person who wants to benefit others not being gullible. Today there are so many websites, apps, and tools that promise you can be the answer to other people’s challenges and dreams. If we knew the rest of the story, we would know many of these people making these promises are wolf spiders in sheep’s clothing.

Trust but Verify

Obviously, once in the past, the hype has pulled me in without something valuable added to my life. More than once, and more again. How have you done in this challenge? Want some good news, we can learn to waterproof our feathers, like ducks do before they jump in the water. We can overcome most bad actors with a few simple reality checks.

We all have soft spots, areas where we are gullible. In our earlier article on The Good Noble we talked about the concept of nobility. This doesn’t make us afraid there is an evil genius waiting behind every door. It clears the path for us to be trusting without being gullible.

If it has a Smell, Reduce Engagement

What is smell? It’s that part of you saying something is not what it appears to be. It is the part of us that warns us about wolf spiders in sheep’s clothing. If we have a spouse or good friend, we should consider their advice.

What a smell isn’t. It is not fear. The cure for fear is information. Start with this thought, without enough information, and I will not treat someone badly, make a financial investment, or make a medical decision. Life is good, and we want to do right by others and help others to do right for us. One of the best ways to encourage good behavior is not being gullible.

Understanding Story Time

Stories connect our logic with our action buttons. If we know something is logically true, but we are holding back often, a testimony can help us connect our emotions to the action button in our brains. This can be a really good thing. At the same time, it can be a really bad thing if we use a story to override something that, as we say, just doesn’t smell right to us.

An old phrase comes to mind, in the multitude of counselors, there is safety. Never hand off the decision to someone else because we sacrifice resources for a return on investment. Also, beware that the testimonies and the counselors are not benefiting from our decision, or we understand how they benefit.

Over the last decade, online courses and training have become a boom growth area. Most of it has a bunch of testimonies of how their great thing benefited someone. I am not saying that the individual testimonies are not true. What I am saying is we need to verify if the testimony is typical or anecdotal. If it is not typical, I am really glad it helped the people who gave it a positive review. Until we know it is typical, we don’t have decision-making information.

Hope has a Foundation

Many of us know the example Jesus gave in his day. The wise man built his house upon a rock. He was talking about a foundation that would not wash away in the rain, like some of the stories I heard about in the last year. The story is different, but the principle is the same. The homeowners on the edge of a neighborhood notice the hillside of their new homes was beginning to wash away. Yes, they had guarantees, but that is not the point. They bought in, and their hearts were committed to this home in vain. The towns condemned the homes, and they had to find a new future. Their story was not a happy one, but it could have been much worse.

When we invest or try to recover from challenges, we need to know our foundation is good. We also need to see beyond history. There used to be a storage container company that offered 100% money-back guarantees. This was awesome, and they honored them. Well, they honored them until they announced a new policy, which was still a good one, but not a lifetime. My favorite outdoor company had a similar history, though they never put it in writing. Their change was driven by eBay sales of used products causing them to change the policy. Both of these are good companies, but history isn’t a guarantee of future performance. We need to know what a story tells us and what it doesn’t. This is not being skeptical. It is preventing our experience from making us skeptical! It is having the wisdom to understand what we can rightly take away from a story.

The Golden Rule

Most of us know the story of the Titanic. The moral of the story is good intentions don’t guarantee good outcomes. This was one of the most solid boats ever built. It is contested if the boat sank because of an iceberg, a fire, or some other cause. What we know is it was not a scam.

When I was younger, they were selling swamp land in Florida as cheap real estate. Perhaps some of it could be developed. The Navy base where I was born was built on a swamp also. It kept slowly sinking. They would build it back up, and it would sink again. Eventually, they gave up. Did this mean the Navy stopped building bases? No, they learned. Age brings opportunities to gain wisdom.

Offer Hope not Hype

(example: hype)

We like to make money and do good for our neighbors. No money down real estate? Do people typically win in the long term? If the answer is yes, then it is hope. If the answer is no, then it is hype. A job I took training for years ago was door-to-door encyclopedia sales. During the training, they showed us how we were going to make money. I took out my notepad and a pencil and did the math. They were guaranteeing pay based on a minimum. The odd thing is that the minimum was worth more than the guaranteed level of pay. I started asking questions, which got others in training asking questions. We realized it was a good deal for our employers and a really bad deal for our customers. I am not sure if anyone stayed, but we looked at each other several times, and one of us stood up to leave, and most of the rest of us followed without looking back.

If it was a bad deal for us, it was likely a bad deal for our customers. There are products that are bad or marginal on the market, in my opinion. You make up your own mind on these. One example for me is Whole Life Insurance. The return on investment is a low percentage and can only beat the stock market in really bad seasons, rare seasons. Granted, by that, I mean the last two years, lol. The issue, life insurance is meant to help years down the line, especially Whole Life. Thus it isn’t called Immediate Life. Past a short period of time, the chances it could out-earn buying the same amount of Term Life and investing the difference is unlikely. Oh, the commission a salesman makes on Whole Life is much higher than Term.

How does the blind spot happen for agents? One, people often benefit from life insurance. That is something they are selling. We know most of us seek to do good, and we don’t think they are trying to take advantage of people. What is shocking, though, is when confronted with the facts, many insurance agents choose to justify this reality over pivoting to better futures for their customers. Psychologists call it cognitive dissonance.

We suffer from this blindness as consumers and in business. This article is meant to bring healing on both sides. At Life Vision Quest, we believe there is hope and healing, but it requires making choices as we move forward in life.

We are going to end this article slightly differently.

How will you influence the life of others today?

Author

  • John Farrar

    Owner of Life Vision Quest, former software architect, husband, father, U.S. Navy Veteran, and certified financial coach with Ramsey and YNAB.

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