This is Why I Pay Full Price

this is why i pay full price

It’s springtime in the Bay Area and you know what that means? Yes! Lots of spring school auctions. Bid on this dinner, this massage, this gift certificate to a local store. It all sounds reasonable. And a great bargain! Please tell me I’m not the only one who thinks this way:

“You mean I could get 3 private yoga sessions for $100 when they are usually $100 each? What a steal!”

“I’ve been meaning to go to that store, this $25 gift certificate will definitely get me there. . . and look – it’s only $15!”

But I’m pulling the plug on myself, and this behavior.

What I’ve seen time and time again, is that I’m willing to invest when I really want something. I’m willing to pay full price for that sweater when I love it. And then I actually wear it – a lot.

blouses in closetIt’s when I fall for the half-price thinking, “Well it’s worth it just to grab it for $25 because it’s usually $50,” then I find that blouse sitting in my closet, always getting passed over for another I prefer better.

Whether you’re reading this thinking, “I do that same thing!” or “Ummm, what does this have to do with leadership?,” let me tell you why I’m writing this now.

Yes, I notice this pattern with shopping, but I also see it in my thinking, drifting towards the easy, the “why not?” It’s the trap where I know I’m “saving” now but potentially paying more in the future.

For example, just like everyone else, I hate the back-and-forth of scheduling; yet when I agree to turn my schedule into knots to squeeze in a business meeting, I’m the one who ends up feeling rushed and pressured a few weeks later, wondering why I agreed to that tight timeframe. Was the time I saved in agreeing earlier worth the stress and hassle later? Or was I taking an earlier time/email bargain that actually ended up costing me more headaches in the future?

And I know it’s not just me. One of my clients was lamenting this to me recently. He postponed dealing with an increasingly underperforming employee because he was busy with other “important projects.” Yet when it came time for HIS review, people pointed to his underperforming team and in particular, his lack of management of this troubled employee. It was a time bargain at the time that came back to haunt him.

yesI’m willing to bet this happens to you as well. Perhaps you agree to take on another project or responsibility because it’s easier to say yes at that moment than to pay full price? To explain why it isn’t a good fit, why your time/energy is taken up with other priorities and perhaps even how you don’t enjoy that task. Or maybe you, like my client, have found yourself ignoring some troubling signs on your team.

In The Odyssey (yes, that book you read in high school), Odysseus wants to hear the Siren song. However, this song is so powerful that he knows that once he hears it, he will feel compelled to swim toward the sirens, and ultimately end up drowning on the rocks below them as sailors have throughout history.

Odysseus comes up with a plan.

He has his sailors tie him to the mast so that he can hear the Sirens but can’t go to them. Then he has his sailors hide themselves away so that they can’t hear the Sirens themselves and die, and they can’t hear him ordering them to untie him so he can go to them. Plus the sailors are under strict instructions to ignore his pleas to be untied should they hear them.

It works! Odysseus is able to hear the Siren call without losing his life.

While it’s extreme, it’s a great example of the ways that we have to make agreements/decisions now, so that our future self is kept from making truly unwise decisions.

My new agreement with myself is that I’m only paying full-price. I don’t want the thrill of the “deal” to override the true value to me. Of course, if something happens to be on sale and I adore it, I’m willing to go there. . . but no focusing on sales just because there will be bargains.

What about you?

What agreements could you have in place NOW, with yourself, at work, and possibly also at home that help you make better choices for your future?

Here are a few examples from myself & my clients:

  • I turn off my email at 5:30 so I can leave at 6:00 pm
  • When I finish a task, instead of going right on to the next one, I stop and take 3 deep breaths. Then I choose my next task mindfully.
  • If there’s not 15 minutes buffer time between meetings, I don’t schedule it.
  • If I notice a feeling in the pit of my stomach, I take some time to “check it out” and investigate more, even if the decision seemed logical.
  • I don’t interrupt my staff at meetings. I hear them out fully. (No matter how silly I think it is.)

Is there one new agreement you could put in place for yourself that would make other parts of your day and life easier? What would it be for you?

If you’re so inclined, please comment and let me know what it is. Even that level of accountability of commenting here (to me and others) will make it much more likely that you follow through on your new commitment.

And then in a month or so, reevaluate. Was it effective? Did it save you in the short run? In the long run? What modifications would you make after one month of experience with it?

I look forward to hearing your agreements and your discoveries!

Jo Ilfeld, PhD

An executive leadership coach, Jo helps C-suite leaders, executives, and high-potential managers develop the flexibility, skill, and frame of mind to meet the challenges of the next five, ten, twenty years…. and beyond. She works with individuals, teams and organizations on four core areas of leadership development. Check out Jo's bio page for more information.

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