Monday, April 9, 2007

Acceptance and Rejection in the land of Private Schools and Professional Services

In Atlanta, the competition for Private School admission among the upper middle class is mind-bogglingly robust. School application season runs from the Fall through the Spring each year and is a courting ritual that features parents and children as show-cats and the schools as the beauty contest judges. To ease the stress, the schools agree to send out their admissions letters on the same day of the year: this past Friday...Good Friday. The next day, thousands of Atlanta families hovered around their mailboxes awaiting the arrival of acceptance and rejection news from Atlanta’s elite schools. Professionals all across the city - Lawyers, Accountants, Consultants, Marketers, Investment Bankers, and you name it - planned their Saturday around the postman’s schedule. Then, upon receipt of the anticipated letters, envelopes were torn asunder and shredded in disgust or lifted high above the head in a gleeful dance and then mounted and framed. Few things are more personal than the rejection or acceptance of our children. We take it even more personally than if we were being judged directly.

Cultural hysteria grips us neurotic parents in the throws of private school poker. Vicious admissions gossip replicates itself down the carpool line like an epidemic virus. “Can you believe it? Ashley didn’t get accepted to any of the schools! She may have to go to public school,” whispers the tanned soccer mom across the Starbucks coffee table. We convince each other that if our children don’t go to the finest private school they will be severely disadvantaged. Competitively crippled! Extreme thinking takes over, surfacing the vulnerable six year old inside us that fears being picked last for kickball. We regress. We won’t let that social-loserdom happen to our child! And, so we act with certain urgency. Whatever resistance we may face from possible rejection in the private school application process is over-ridden by the dread of social pariah status. We act. We risk it.

Why is it that the same elite professionals who are willing to boldly hold their families out for social judgment are often the same ones who are reluctant to even utter the words “client development” for fear of rejection?

Here’s what prospective rainmakers might learn from the private school insanity:
  • Fear often drives a sense of urgency and behavior change…but it sure is better if something more positive…like a vision of a great future…is the driver. We act as parents on behalf our children’s successful life ahead. What if we acted as professionals on behalf of the future career that our active client development efforts can enable?
  • Peer pressure isn’t always bad. Peer influence can help you do things that are out of your comfort zone but are good for you. What if we surrounded ourselves with other professionals who are pushing themselves to grow new business?
  • Regression & Resistance are most often negatives but if we are mindful of our slips and slides back into our six year old selves and the resistance that such vulnerability brings we can readily diffuse it and bring ourselves back to a conscious adulthood. We then understand that life will go on even if a prospect says “no.” And, that we are likely to hear far more “yeses” than we ever realized.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hmm, you hit the spot on that one. I'm going thru exactly that right now after applying to 2 schools and receiving the proverbial - don't call us, we'll call you.