Updated: Apr 13, 2021
Like most of my posts, this one has been on my mind for a while, but I had an experience that made me want to actually sit down and write about it. Hopefully my thoughts help you in some way either professionally or personally. This is a long one so buckle in...
I got involved recently with a project, which shall remain nameless, that the owner was a super nice guy, very complimentary, and positive. He asked me to take on more of a booking bands type of role with his company using a unique venue and performance concept. I got excited and agreed to be involved, got in touch with over 10 bands of all kinds about the concept and they were excited as well.
The time for our first show came and we had to cancel 2 weeks out because of the owner pushing back the date. It was OK the first time, things happen, so we kept going and rescheduled. The second date came and went, same thing happened. Now realize, in the entertainment world... cancelling even once is a HUGE no no. It hurts everyone's reputation involved. This went on to happen 6-7 times, each time ending with me having to call my friends and music professionals, telling them it was cancelled yet again because of the owner or some venue problem came up that restricted us from actually holding an event. Now in the midst of all this, I was building relationships with venues, I met a lot of corporate people, and felt good about it, in spite of the continual delay in things happening.
This last time was the last straw for me. Now, looking back, I realized that I should have stepped back a LONG time ago. One reason why I didn't was because I thought the opportunity would be worth all of the pain of rescheduling shows over and over. Another reason is because I did not do the things I will talk about below.
After reflecting on this failure as a company and my own personally to adhere to my own boundaries, I thought of what I would do different next time. Here is what I have learned.
As you look at the above picture, which one are you USUALLY or which one is your GO TO?
I can tell you being very honest that I am usually in the loose or porous category. It comes from me being "a nice guy" and others, are very rigid, not allowing any flexibility at all. The balance comes from being healthy. Not closed off, not totally open, but healthy COMMUNICATED boundaries.
When I used to teach a weekly self development class, this lesson was always one where people struggled with, but also loved the most.
So let us start with this? What is or are boundaries? Well from Wikipedia:
Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits
In other words, boundaries is what is OK or NOT OK to you. It is all very subjective and based on YOU. The key here is HEALTHY boundaries.
Now, most of the time, those with RIGID boundaries will say, "I can't loosen up, then I lose control and they walk all over me!"
And those with loose boundaries will say, "But I don't want to control anyone else, or make anyone feel uncomfortable or be too demanding"
In both, notice that CONTROL comes up.. quite interesting actually. Do you ever feel this way about any part of your life?
For me, I have found that some areas of my life I am very rigid on and others I am very loose.
So ask yourself as I am this year.. am I being too rigid or am I being too loose in this area of my life?
So for now, I will go over some basic things that I personally am going to apply this year with my own boundaries, personally and professionally and hopefully it will assist you.
#1-Know your limits
#3-Watch others fruits
#4-Hold the Line
#1 is this.. KNOW YOUR LIMITS.
When I say limits, I mean what is too far for me? What is too much for me in business or not? In the example I told at the start, I should have defined at the beginning what my limits were. If I would have said, "One rescheduling is understandable, two shows rescheduling means there is a problem, three is too much, I need to leave" If I would have said that, it would have saved me months of working and trying to make something work that just was not working at all.
One reason why I didn't is because I wanted to believe in what the owner was saying.. which we will talk about in a moment.
This concept also applies personally as well. Lately, I take notice of how people talk to me. I am a very laid back person, however, I DO NOT like when I am spoken to disrespectfully. Now, here is the thing, no one can tell me if I feel disrespected, ONLY I CAN. So I must be true to when I feel that way, communicate it, and take action from there.
So I have a few options when someone speaks to me that way that I usually take:
1-I ask them to please talk to me more respectfully or I will need to leave
2-If they comply, then we can continue.. but
3-If they continue to talk in a way I do not like, I leave the area and say "We can continue this when you can talk to me respectfully and calmly"
Usually at this point, if the person is being rude or mean or angry, it makes them more of this. YOU AND I NEVER HAVE TO PUT UP WITH BEING TREATED LIKE OR SPOKEN TO BADLY!
Now here is the thing, everyone loses their temper, everyone gets angry, everyone has a bad day, the question is, what do you do when it happens to you and you get the brunt of it?
This is when it takes some personal fine tuning, to be aware of when you are feeling or sensing something that is off and take action from there.
You decide what is too far with how someone treats you, know your limits and once you do....
Here is the part that most people have a hard time with. COMMUNICATE YOUR BOUNDARIES! At least, I know I do.
This is why #1 know your limits comes first. Once you know them its up to you to tell others what they are.
There are of course smaller boundaries and larger boundaries. Smaller boundaries is when someone eats your food at work, (Maybe for some of you that's BIG!) or when someone swears around you.
Larger boundaries are sexual harassment at work, not getting paid for your product, a spouse that cheats, or something that is WAY WAY to far, TO YOU.
For the larger boundaries, you need to decide what is too much at the START of any relationship, work, personal, or social.
For the smaller boundaries, you need to pay attention to how you feel when a small boundary is crossed.
In both circumstances, it is always healthier to communicate what you are expecting, asking for, or wanting from the relationship at that time.
This gives the other party the ability to understand, respect, and comply to your boundaries. This shows that they hear you, respect, and care for you.
When boundaries are ignored over and over again AFTER you have communicated, it is the other parties inability to respect you and you need to take a serious look at that relationship.
When boundaries are ignored over and over again and you HAVE NOT communicated your boundaries, it is not the other party that needs to change, its you.
#3-Watch their fruits?
Now for me, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, if someone is nice, I usually think they are nice people. If someone tries their best to be honest, I think they are honest. However, one thing I am for sure applying this year is the question, "What are their fruits?"
Meaning, what are the results? Not what the other person is saying, but WHAT THEY ARE ACTUALLY DOING AND CREATING RESULTS OF.
In the same story at the start, if I paid more attention to the fruits of what was actually NOT happening, I would not have been involved as long either. I listened too much to the words and not enough to the actions.
Have you ever heard someone promise you this and that and it sounded amazing? Ya me too... that in and of itself not bad, its if they actually make true on what they say.
Let me clarify here, I try to love all people, all men and women from all races, creeds, religions, backgrounds, or what have you. I believe that is important. I do not trust everyone and that trust has nothing to do with skin color, politics, or anything else, it has to do with my experience of their fruits.
Like in the movie, Italian Job, the quote, "I trust everyone, its the devil inside them I don't trust"
Everyone makes mistakes, everyone has a bad day, everyone has fallen through on something at some point of their lives. But how they handle that and what they do with it is what makes them trustworthy or able to have good fruits.
I know plenty of people who cheated on their spouse that know it was a horrible mistake and make changes to become better. Others do not. I always believe in someone's ability to change and I give them the space to do so.
However, I do not engage with anyone that has lost my trust until I can see the FRUITS of that change. Like this business owner, if he approached me again for booking events, I now have boundaries like a contract, a secure deposit that is non refundable, and plan of marketing action that all must happen BEFORE I ever walk into anywhere. Those boundaries are all ones I was relaxed on at the start, but now I am holding true to. Those boundaries he knows very clearly and I will not do anything with anyone unless they can comply to those boundaries.
It is the same for playing music live, I have a financial boundary, a minimum amount. I will not play unless that amount is met and if someone cannot afford me, then I recommend someone that they can have.