Intuiting and answering the unasked questions

Saturday, June 20, 2009.  Today I am going into the home stretch with the July Horizons Magazine. I’ve been late finishing it because I spent last weekend at the Universal Lightworkers’ Conference.  Although I was up in my room working through half of the conference, I still had all the last minute calls and ads to deal with this week.  Half of my advertisers have paid 3-6-12 months in advance, so their ads get placed ahead of time.  The deadline is the 10th, so it is on the 10th that all the calls start coming in.  I think that’s funny, because usually the magazine has left my hands by the 15th, and I get a week of last minute phone calls after it’s gone. Many of the calls are from new people, but a lot of them are from people I’ve know for the entire 17 years I’ve done the magazine.  Some of them I’ve told a dozen times a year for a dozen years that the magazine is out of my hands by the 15th, that the deadline is the 10th, yet it seems they never hear that.  Then I realized why.  Usually when they are calling at the deadline, they are really calling for info rather than to place the ad.  So their question is not really, “am I in time to place an ad?”  Their bigger question is “Can you help me reframe my perception about what it is I do and why it is important and why anyone would need it, and put it into words in an ad for me?

They are so focused on their bigger question – the unasked question – that they don’t hear the answer to the question they’ve asked.  So many people go into a business without giving much thought to it, so they haven’t done the mission statement and the inner work to discover what it is they are passionate about, and built their business around that.  They have been so involved in the daily workings of running the business that they haven’t made the time to think it through.  So when they call at the last minute to ask about an ad, they are really wanting to be inspired, to get clear about what they have to offer.  They want to be excited about it.  They want other people to be excited about it.  They want me to convince them they want to advertise in the first place.  It’s not as simple as calling me at deadline on the 10th of the month and saying, “I”ve just emailed you a camera-ready ad and Paypalled the payment to you.”

So when I realized that was really what half the last minute callers were doing, it stopped being aggravating for me.  I stopped saying words to them that they were not hearing, and began answering their unasked questions. It’s true that people don’t hear what you tell them unless they’ve already created a space to hear it; unless they are receptive to it.  People who’ve raised kids know that.  In one ear and out the other, with no registering in between.  If I want what I say to be heard and understood, I have to make sure it’s at the right time and that I’ve created the space for it.

I have several friends and clients who have publications similar to Horizons and I often hear from them that they send their job in to the printer after they have all their pages sold.  So they are chomping at the bit at the last minute hoping more ads will come in, meanwhile placing pages of bartered ads for their distributors.  Most of them have bought a franchise without realizing that magazines of this type don’t make money unless they are very active in soliciting ads.  Selling franchises is what makes money.  Horizons pays for itself but was not designed to create income.  I like being able to say “I’m in it for the outcome, not the income.” But what it does do is promote me and, through that, my other businesses create income.  So I am never concerned with whether Horizons will get enough ads at the last minute.  Since I’m not focused on lack, I don’t experience lack.

It’s easier for my schedule to know a year in advance what I’m doing, so I know what date the magazine goes to the printer that far in advance.  I never doubt that I’ll get enough ads, since I always get so many last minute calls for them.  I’m more focused on the work of getting all the ads placed and getting the magazine done on time.  The rest will fall into place by itself.  The part about enough ads coming in works itself out, when my focus is getting it in on time. I rarely have leftover space and I don’t barter ads.

I purposely don’t entertain thoughts like “will I get enough ads this month to pay the printing and postage?” because I know it would take some doing to get on the better feeling side of that thought.  So I keep my focus on what is my work to do (the mag) and I let the Universe do its part (the paying for it).  It’s a good partnership.

If you’ve got a friend who continually asks you the same questions over and over and never seems to hear the answer, listen a little more closely.  Intuit what the real question is, the bigger question they are asking, and answer that one.  It’ll save a lot of repetition, time and energy.

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