Has greed taken over in America? Do we all just want MORE at all costs? I hope not, but unfortunately, I recently experienced a situation where grown adults began acting like greedy little pigs. It seems to take only 3 simple steps to arrive at greed. Here’s how it happens.
I am a business consultant. I agreed to help a fitness gym chain improve their marketing. (All information altered to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent.) Each gym location had very different outlooks on how to run a gym. The management for each gym varied from lackadaisical to micromanaging to every thing in between. As I began to work with this group, and made suggestions for marketing, it became clear that I cared more about their businesses than most of them. They wanted to do the least amount of work, with minimal changes, yet bring in an abundance of customers. Although minimalism is on the rise here in America, it does not lead to success and abundance in my humble opinion. Suffice it to say that I had my work cut out for me. All of that would have been a tough road to hoe, but then the most amazing thing began to develop. I began to hear from different gym management the beginnings of complaints.
First step to greed: Overestimate your importance
Certain managers began to overestimate their importance to the group and their importance to my success in helping the group. They truly believed that without them, myself and the rest of the group could do nothing. They basically said as much to myself and other managers. They each individually saw themselves as more important than the group as a whole. Their egos were enormous, and growing by the minute.
Second step to greed: Use established relationships to get what you want
These same individuals began to use their relationships with each of us to pursue their own self-centered ideas. Because some of the managers in the group were open, honest, friendly and truly cared about each person in the group, this subgroup began to abuse those relationships by manipulating situations and using their friendships as a cover. They basically knew that the others cared for them, so they treated them worse! While the caring, honest people were trying to figure out how to respond to this onslaught, the “users” forged ahead with their plans. They wanted what they wanted at all costs, even by damaging relationships.
Third step to greed: Convince yourself you are entitled to more
Finally, many of them convinced themselves that they deserved to be paid more, especially when they became aware of my consulting fees. It didn’t matter that they didn’t have the experience I have or the business acumen. It didn’t matter that I was creating results for all of their businesses, and had helped them move past many obstacles. Remember step one? Overestimating your importance. In their minds, they were who made it all happen, and now they just wanted what they wanted, regardless of the facts. They took credit for any and all success, never mind that they didn’t show up for promotional events, wouldn’t support any group events, got bent out of shape over any suggested changes that would improve customer service, and the list goes on and on.
Things came to a head when a personal trainer who was the brother of one of the managers, had been employed and fired from a number of the locations, worked very part-time, and was well-known for harassing customers, decided to invite himself to a Customer Appreciation luncheon for the entire gym chain. Everyone knew that having this toxic employee at the event would undo anything good that this very expensive and important event was meant to accomplish. He had already shown this to be true at a national convention. Since the management of the gym where he worked would not fire him, I suggested that he was not needed at the event. He threw a full blown two-year-old kicking, screaming fit! This was just what the “greedy little pigs” needed for ammunition to start a brawl between the good and the bad. We had some very difficult conversations where I had to call out some of the managers on their behavior in front of the group. I would not have chosen to have it happen this way, but they left me no other choice. Their inflated egos got bruised, and their true motives were laid bare. Needless to say, they were not happy with me.
Since this all happened just weeks before the renewal date of my consulting agreement, I decided to gracefully bow out of the renewal. I remember sitting with one of the good managers as I was getting ready to leave who just shook his head over and over. We had become good friends. He knew the dollar amount of income I had brought to this chain. He asked, “How did we get here?” I told him, “I think there are some folks in this group who really want more by doing less and not changing a thing, which simply doesn’t work. I think there is such a wide diversity of morals and values here that they cannot even agree on what is right or wrong. I am no longer willing to want success for them more than they want it for themselves.” Honestly, I had called them out on their bad behavior, and that sealed the deal. I was declared the big, bad wolf once again.