What Piercing My Ears Taught Me About Business

Jan 24, 2022

A couple of weeks ago, I made spontaneously decided to go get piercings with one of my best friends...despite the fact that it probably wasn't the best decision. Here's what that experience taught me about how I approach my business...and my life.

TW: Mentions of blood

Hey there, and welcome to the Client Attractor Show. I'm your host, Jacob Ratliff, client attraction coach and author of the new book Client Attractor, which is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at clientattractorbook.com

 Today, I am going to talk about what a recent impulsive decision, getting my ears pierced, taught me about my own business. I want to share the kind of wild story that happened, and not just what it taught me, but I think what it can teach all of us in terms of how we're not only approaching our businesses, but our lives as a whole. So without any further delay, let's go ahead and get started. 

 It was about a week and a half ago, and I am in Asheville, North Carolina, and we were due for some pretty moderate snow. We were forecasted to get about seven-to-10 inches of snow, which is a lot for us, honestly, even here in the mountains. And I knew that once the snow hit, I would be snowed in for a few days, unable to leave the house safely. It was the day that the snow was forecasted to begin. It was supposed to start around 5:00 p.m. in the afternoon on this Sunday, and a couple of my best friends suggested that we go and grab some lunch before the snow hit. We had not seen each other in a good long while, and we thought that it would be nice to grab lunch together, touch base, hang out a little bit before we really got snowed in by this incoming weather. 

 We met up at a local restaurant, had a great lunch, and then towards the end of it as we were getting ready to head out and likely go our separate ways, one of my friends, Walter, mentioned that he really wanted to get his nose pierced. I kind of offhandedly said, “Oh yeah, I've been wanting to get my ears pierced for a while now,” and then Walter gave me this look, this kind of signature look that he has that I've seen a million times, and whenever I see it, I know that we're about to do something fun and maybe a little bit impulsive. So, of course, he said, “Should we go do it today?” 

 And so we all piled into my other friend Charles’s car, and we were going to head to the other side of town to this piercing studio that I just happened to know took walk-ins. Charles wasn't going to get pierced, but he was fine to drive, and so he drove us across town. We got to the piercing studio, we got out, we put our masks on, and the studio was closed. None of us had actually really thought to maybe check their hours on Google before we headed that way. And unfortunately, Asheville isn't that big, so it was still only a 10- or 15-minute drive. 

 But I was secretly kind of glad, because I've had an ear piercing before. I got my ear pierced when I was 15 years old in high school. I just got my right ear pierced, because that's the gay ear. I remember the day I got that piercing so vividly, because I remember the piercer sticking the needle through my ear and holding a cloth or a tissue or something to the ear and saying, “Wow, this is bleeding a lot.” I remember when that tissue became so soaked with blood that she had to get another one and then another one, and then at some point, it got to where she was putting some sort of sand-type material on my ear to stop the bleeding, which didn't work. It just made the wound really gritty and even more painful. I bled from my ear non stop for two or three hours after the piercer put the needle through my ear, so it would be a fair statement to say that I had some sort of concerns with this idea of going and willingly submitting to the process of getting both ears pierced, and when it turned out that that piercing studio was closed that day, I wasn't terribly angry. I was pretty relieved. 

 But then, of course, Walter posted on Facebook a quick post like, “Hey, does anyone have any suggestions for walk-in piercers in Asheville?” and within about five minutes, we were headed to the other side of town to another piercing studio that did, in fact, accept walk-ins and was also open, at least according to their Google page. We got there, and the three of us unloaded from Charles's car and walked into the front door, where we were met by a bearded man who asked what it was that we wanted to get done. So Walter said, “I want to get my nose done,” I said, “I want to get my ear lobes pierced,” and Charles said, “Oh, I'm not getting anything pierced today.” The guy at the desk said, “Yeah, sure, we can definitely do that, but because of our COVID policy, we're not allowing anyone in the building who is not getting a piercing or a tattoo done.” 

 As soon as he said that, my heart lifted, because here I was thinking, Oh, are we really going to get these piercings done and make our friend sit out in the car while we got needles shoved into our bodies? So I was getting ready to say, “Yeah, totally understand that. We can just come back another day when it's just the two of us,” but before I could open my mouth and say that, Walter said, “Well, how long will it take?” and the guy said, “15-20 minutes,” and again, before I could say anything, Charles said, “It's fine. I'll just wait out in the car.” We exchanged the obligatory “Are you sure?” “Are you sure?” and Charles said, “Yeah, no, totally fine.” So he said, “Okay, I guess we'll do it,” and my heart dropped way, way, way, way, way back down to the floor. We filled out our paperwork, basically saying that we weren't drunk, we weren't high, we weren't gonna sue them for anything. And after we turned in our paperwork, and we're waiting on the piercer to call us back, I looked over at Walt, and I said, “Well, I should probably tell you what happened last time I got a piercing.” 

And so I told him, and I saw that look of concern on his face, and I said, “No, I'm sure that's not going to happen again. It's fine.” Then, before either of us could say anything else, the piercer called my name, and I walked back there, certain that this was not going to end well. Now, fortunately, this is a pretty anticlimactic story, in that everything was fine. I didn't bleed at all. And whereas the piercing I got when I was 15 resulted in two or three hours sitting in the studio, I was indeed out of there in 10 minutes, which felt like a true, true miracle. And now that I have these adorable little opal studs in my ears, that I am absolutely obsessed with, the question becomes okay, what did that actually teach me about business? Is the lesson to, when you have a really bad experience at something before, to go and try the same thing again 10 years later? No. Is the lesson that if you have the opportunity to do something that may or may not cause you physical harm, you should do it anyway? Also, no.

 For me, the lesson here was really about spontaneity, about making impulsive and spontaneous decisions because they feel right in the moment. Because even though I was looking for every excuse not to get my ears pierced on that Sunday afternoon, I still wanted to get my ears pierced. Because if I didn't, I would not have even considered doing that. And realistically, zooming out on that situation, I knew that even if I had a similar experience to when I was 15 years old, if I did bleed non stop for a couple hours, it wouldn't actually really cause me any harm, because I know that I don't have any disorders or illnesses that would create a true health risk for me. And so with the risk factor aside, I think the lesson is really about the value of making spontaneous decisions that just feel natural in your gut to say yes to, even when, as you say yes to them, you start coming up with all these excuses why you shouldn't. And yeah, you should pay attention to those excuses. Because sometimes, they actually are trying to prevent you from doing something really stupid. But a lot of times, those excuses and all those things that come up, once you say yes to something a little bit scary, they're mostly just trying to protect you. 

 The other piece of this lesson for me was that, perhaps, part of the reason to embrace spontaneous decisions that you just find yourself saying yes to, maybe part of the reason to entertain those and even act on them, is that most decisions that you'll face in your business and in your life are not truly irreversible. If I decided that I don't like having my ears pierced, or if I started to maybe even have some health problems with these holes in nine years, right, there is a solution there for me, because I don't have any underlying health problems. Really, the worst thing that can happen is my years get infected, maybe I hop on an antibiotic, but three-to-five days later, I'm totally fine. And the more realistic scenario is I just take those suckers out and move on with my life, and next time someone suggests that we go get piercings, I might say, “I'm gonna sit that one out today.” 

But as I started reflecting on this whole period of two hours, where I decided I was going to get my ears pierced and then went and got my ears pierced, I began to, maybe for the first time, realize the value of spontaneity, not just in my life, but in my business. So the next day, I sat down and started to basically make a list of the areas of my business where I was feeling dissatisfied, or where things didn't feel like they were working as well as they should be, and a lot of these things were pieces that I had not really paid attention to lately. They were parts of the business that I hadn't made any changes to recently and that had just kind of been stagnant. So I looked at that list, and I said, “Alright, I'm going to embrace spontaneity, and I am going to fix these things.” Some of these things were not things that I knew how to fix, but I had some idea of how to get started, at least in the right direction. 

 So for each of those items, I think I put something like three possible ways to move forward on improving that specific part of my business, and I picked one, and I took action on it. And as soon as I decided that I was going to move forward on taking this action, all those excuses, again, started to come up, the excuses of well, what if this doesn't work? What if this is a waste of time? And I had to pause and listen to them. Then, I had to take a bit of a more logical approach to figuring out if I should take this action, so I thought about the risks. I thought about that question that was coming up for me, which was what if this doesn't work? And I said, “Well, if this doesn't work, I'll move on to the next thing on the list. Because whatever's happening right now is not working, and if I do nothing, then it will continue to not work. And if I do something, and it does not work, at least I know what I don't need to be doing. But if I do something and it does work, well, then I have just solved the problem.” 

 It really entirely boils down to taking action is almost always better than taking no action at all. And that sometimes, when you are in that period of inaction, one of the best things you can do is to just take an action, whether or not you're actually sure if it's the right action. That's where this whole idea of spontaneity comes in, which is that sometimes you do just have to fly by the seat of your pants and make a decision and make action, because that's always better than no decision and no action. 

Perhaps the reason that I'm harping on and on about this is that in business, the common narrative is that you plan out every little thing, and that when something in your plan doesn't go as you expect it to, you adjust the plan ever so slightly, but then have to rework the rest of the plan to accommodate this one change. The common narrative in business is a really inflexible one. It's that your strategy, your plan, everything, has to be 100% set in stone and perfect before you can take action and that is why the majority of entrepreneurs don’t ever see the result that they want, because they’re getting stuck in that idea that they have to plan every little thing out before they can do anything at all, and that, perhaps, by the time that they’ve completed their plan and they’re ready to take action, they’re tired and burnt out, or they’ve lost connection to their reason why or their motivation. Perhaps even lost the confidence that this business will succeed in the first place, and the number one cure falling into that trap? Just be a little bit spontaneous sometimes.

Now before we wrap up, I feel the need to clarify that, yeah, be a little bit spontaneous, but no, don't do stupid things; don't put yourself at physical or emotional risk. Take care of yourself, and you can do both at the same time. Thank you so much for joining me for today's episode of the Client Attractor Show. Again, I'm your host, Jacob Ratliff, and I will see you tomorrow for our next episode.

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