Some of my posts push people’s buttons a bit. So, if you’re a smoker, please don’t take offense to this post; I’m not picking on you.
Much of the framework of my business model stems from my interest in psychology and sociology. With that in mind, I have always been fascinated by the reasons people give to justify unhealthy behaviors (in this instance, smoking).
It’s common knowledge that smoking is harmful. You don’t hear people arguing against that point.
We’ve come a long way as a society toward educating people on the dangers of smoking and changing laws to enforce a healthier lifestyle.
Last summer while visiting a local theme park with my family, we were walking along to the next ride, and we saw a bunch of people huddled in a way-too-small area frantically puffing on cigarettes. The park had allotted a postage stamp of space for smokers to do their thing.
It was pretty comical but also a bit disturbing in a way.
My son asked why they were all jammed together like that?
I explained the no-smoking policy and talked with him about just how much times have changed.
During the golden age of boxing, fighters battled amid a thick cloud of cigar smoke from fans and reporters.
He couldn’t believe that one –or that people once smoked in planes!!
Eventually, smokers lost more and more real estate until they’re now relegated to tiny sections of theme parks or alleyways a good distance from proprietors’ entranceways.
Restrictions on advertising have pushed tobacco products out of the pages of most magazines and off the airwaves.
Major League Baseball is grandfathering out the use of chewing tobacco during games. (free tip: invest in bubble gum and sunflower seeds ASAP!)
Despite all of the negative publicity and anti-tobacco legislation, about a billion people worldwide smoke regularly.
How do people justify this deadly habit despite over 5 million tobacco-related deaths each year?
Social psychologist Leon Festinger’s Cognitive Dissonance theory gives us some interesting insights.
He argues that the discrepancy between our beliefs and actions causes tension, which continues to grow until we reconcile it in our minds in some way. Since humans tend to change their thoughts rather than their behaviors, the latter rarely change.
Apply this theory to smoking.
Is it harmful?
But I like it.
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What to do?
Since quitting smoking is extremely difficult, the smoker often finds it easier to change his or her attitude toward smoking. It may sound a little like one or more of these examples:
I only smoke occasionally. It’s not like I’m smoking several packs a day. The people who do that are the ones dying from tobacco. I’m fine.
Plenty of healthy people die from accidents or things out of their control. I could die slipping in a bathtub. Might as well enjoy my life while I can.
I feel fine now even though I’m smoking. I guess I can just handle it better than those people who get sick.
And so on. Cognitive dissonance resolved. Behavior justified.
Now vilifying smokers is not my point. Fast food, alcohol, crash dieting, drug use, risky sexual behavior, and the like are all potentially harmful or even fatal options that people rationalize on a daily basis.
Here’s the takeaway: whether you smoke or not, this flawed thinking is actually being used by many of you in your approach to your business.
You may be doing all the “right” things:
- Authoring a book
- Creating a website
- Building an app
- Paying Google
- Cold calling
By putting your time and resources into these things, you feel that you are making good business decisions.
However, you are not getting the results you wish for. Deep down you know something is missing. Cognitive Dissonance.
And this is where most people settle.
If you want to properly deal with this dissonance, you actually need to lean into the pain. Because that is where the solution lives.
Most people mask their pain or try to bypass it with a quick fix.
STOP DOING THIS.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a resolution to this tension that would change the game for you and your family? I’m talking more traffic and solid leads from your ideal clients. A system that you can scale and then ride to the bank.
How great would it feel to sleep well at night not because you tried hard that day but because you resolved your pain by destroying it at the roots?
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