How Do You Back Down, While Maintaining Your Guru Status?
Gurus and Guru Companies are highly paid. Why? Because they're always right – except when they're not.
It can be pretty tough when you’re being paid to be the font of all knowledge, and the value you offer is the fact your advice can be relied upon. The trouble is, we all get things wrong from time to time, so how do you deal with it when you’re wrong, without revealing your imperfections, and therefore weakening your value to those who pay for, or rely on your advice?
Big reveal : You can’t.
Big reveal 2 : People don’t believe in gurus anymore!
We’ve all grown up. We don’t believe the hype or the sale pitch. If your business relies upon people who truly think your advice is absolutely the last word in anything other than the absolute narrowest of fields (and probably even those), then it’s very likely you’re in a contracting marketplace of people who still believe that’s actually possible.
The great news is that this is a liberating, and empowering transformation in the world. We’re all savvy enough to know people get things wrong, and to a larger or lesser extent we’re all kind of OK with that.
I’m very proud to have a culture within our business of “proud mistake owners”. When something goes wrong, you almost always hear about it first from the person who made the mistake. It takes character to stand up and say “Hey, I got that wrong! I hate that I got it wrong, but I did. Here’s what I want to do about it, and once solved I’m going to work out how to never do that again”.
We’re the same with our customers and clients. If we’ve made a mistake, we make sure everyone is aware of it. We take it on the chin, apologise and explain how we’re going to avoid it happening again. People can make better decisions about how to deal with problems if they get the truth, quickly and in full, without spin or excuses.
Every now and then, if you do something really bad, or you get very unlucky with an extremely unforgiving recipient of the bad news, you may lose a client, but do you really want to keep a client through deception? Really? If you’ve screwed up that badly, I’m afraid it’s time to face the music. The clients you keep, however, will love you far more because they know they can rely on you to tell them the truth.
If you keep losing clients, due to continually screwing up, then you’re far better off focussing your efforts on improving than you are working hard on covering it all up!
Don’t pretend to be perfect. Nobody buys it, and you just drive a wedge between you and those who you hope to convince.