Monday, March 30, 2009

Positive + Negative= Friction

We just finished up a Dressage Horse Show in Burbank, Ca. It was so great being around these large warm blooded magnificent creatures again. It was also great seeing friends I’d missed. The talk amongst the vendors was about the upcoming FEI World Cup show to be in Las Vegas in the middle of April. For all of us this has been regarded as the all time best revenue show of the year.

The World Cup takes place every two years. In 2007 vendors trying to get into the show at this late of date paid $10 k for a 10 x 10 booth space. Knowing what fools were willing to pay, the show promoters had an increase of over 20% for this year’s starting fee. We all jumped on board with no hesitation and no complaining. We did not want to jeopardize getting into the show. Ah, but times have changed since 2007. Today, two weeks before the show, there is an abundance of retail booth space available and the promoter is offering discounts to get it full. This realization has caused resentment among the long term vendors and angry discussions regarding the current state of affairs was heard throughout the horse park.

I have a dear friend named Martha. Martha and her husband are German and America has been very, very good to them. They sold their million dollar Malibu home and their million dollar retail business several years ago. Martha is patriotic and optimistic. When we discussed the current situation regarding World Cup, Martha’s response was-“Oh, well.” She was dead on right. Her response implied what “can you do?” There truly was nothing anyone could do. We had signed our contracts, paid our money and had an obligation. Much like the obligation I made when I purchased a home at double the value it is today. But something about her attitude irked me. Like that piece of sand that irritates the oyster. Why doesn’t she get up in arms? Why doesn’t she get angry? Why does it not make her mad that there is nothing we can do?

During another show this year, there was a vendor in tears because her candle business was costing her more money than she was making. I listened as vendor friends tried to explain to her about profit margins and expenses. She was not open. She refused to believe she could do better. She wanted to cry. I watched as the friction got hotter and hotter with the girl still in tears and the friends furious at her not wanting to listen.

I had to wonder, how many times had I taken on the positive side of a situation in hopes of making a friend happy? How many times had I watched a friend be sad and tried to help with comforting words or by trying to show another side to the situation? I cannot recall it ever helping. But I can recall how it did make them feel better if I commiserated with them. If I agreed they were right and their thought pattern was right on, they somehow felt better. There was no friction.

I hope this realization, will stop me next time. I hope I can refuse the dangling carrot and find a nice peaceful pasture with plenty of green grass where my positive energy can flow and be content in knowing that what they are feeling will pass or not. But either way I have not caused friction.

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