I can’t be the only one. You’ve done it, right? When something ails you, your first course of action is to take it straight to the internet. Muscle aches, digestive problems, irregular heartbeats. You know, the usual. Why bother with the doctor when WebMD is right there at our fingertips with what is sure to be the correct diagnosis. Right? Well…not so much. And I have learned that the hard way.
A couple of years ago I found out that, despite all of my medical research on-line, I was in fact not a doctor. And then I found out that doctors actually know some stuff that regular people don’t. Hard to believe, but it’s true. It all started with my left eyelid. It started tensing up, almost like a muscle spasm. And it went on for weeks. Clearly, this wasn’t right and surely there must be an explanation. But why bother with the doctor when WebMD will know! I mean, they must. How could they not? So off to the internet I went. And what I found was terrifying. My condition was likely caused by a long-term neuromuscular disease that leads to varying degrees of skeletal muscle weakness. The most commonly affected muscles are those of the eyes, face, and swallowing. Oh God, I knew it. I was dying.
Thoroughly convinced that I was experiencing a slow and painful death, I made an appointment with my GP where I urged her to officially diagnosis me with what I already knew I had. She listened patiently and after my very convincing dialogue on the subject, she looked at me puzzled and said, “I don’t understand. Why do you think you have this? Does this run in your family or something?” No, it did not, but I failed to see how that was relevant. Wasn’t she listening? I clearly had all the symptoms. And I obviously knew what I was talking about. Well, I don’t think she thought so, so she sent me to an ophthalmologist for further evaluation. After a very thorough exam, the ophthalmologist looked at me and said the following words that changed my life forever - “you have extremely dry eyes.” I’m sorry, what did she say? “And your left eye is worse than your right. The result of this is that your reflexes kick in. Your eyelid is being sent a muscle signal urging you to constantly blink. This results in the kind of pulling sensation that you are experiencing.” She handed me a bottle of special eye drops and said, “now go enjoy your life.”
And there it was. A kick in the reality chops. How could I be so far off? I knew the symptoms. I had the resources. I’d done the work. Why was I coming up with the wrong answer? I know it sounds odd that I would be frustrated to learn I was completely fine, but that’s not the point. The point is that we often think we are experts in something that we know little about because we feel armed with knowledge and information, even though this information may be based on minimal substance. We don’t even realize we may be missing crucial pieces of information just because we don’t know what we don’t know. So what does this have to do with you and your tenant engagement? It starts with the culture that has been created by our access to the internet. Over time, we’ve learned that whatever information we want or need can easily be found on-line. We believe we no longer need experts to guide us because we can pull up Google and figure it out for ourselves. We also have a false sense of believing that what little information we have to start with is all the information we need in order to move forward and procure a solution. And that just by proceeding at all, we will achieve the desired results.
The truth is that when we self-diagnose our business issues, we generally wind up in the same place we do when we self-diagnose our medical issues. Maybe you’ll get lucky and maybe your diagnosis will be right. If it’s simple enough. But you might find that you are treating your issue with aspirin when you really need penicillin. Or that you’re taking penicillin when you really need a blood transfusion. Self-diagnosing cannot only be dangerous medically but it can also cause unintended consequences for your business. You may be investing thousands in a program that isn’t yielding any real return because it’s creating activity but isn’t resonating or differentiating or even engaging. Participation levels are sagging. But you’re doing the best you can with what you know. The problem is, you’re still left with the problem. You’re putting money, time and energy into a solution that was born from a trial and error approach. An expert can help you accurately diagnose the problem, then recommend a course correction that drives better results and delivers a return on that investment instead, in less time and often for the same amount of money. How does the expert know what you should do? Because they know some stuff that regular people don’t. And, just like a doctor, they are here to use their forces for good so that your business can remain healthy, happy and thriving.
The quick and easy path via the internet can undoubtedly be tempting. And if this was my Star Wars inspired blog post (and trust me, one is coming), then I would bust out a Yoda quote here. But instead, I’ll simply tell you that instead of going it alone, using trusted advisors and experts to help create real solutions can save you from a misdiagnosis that costs you money, hurts your brand identity, and drives customers away instead of attracting them. They can also save you time, stress, and create win-wins based on a customized solution that is only for you.
They can simplify your life, call attention to details you might have missed, and save you from a mistake before you make it. There’s not an internet site yet that can do all that. (Although I bet you Yoda could.)
Laura DeRousse, Founder & President