Excuses and Firing Your Customers

What Is and What Was

What Is and What Was

FLAGSTAFF, AZ—Sheesh. I never saw so many “righteous” excuses as I saw in the comments on yesterday’s post. Your comments inspired a blog post from me over on NonAbusers.

You’ve heard me say it a thousand times: Thoughts are your worst enemy. Excuses are just thoughts taken too seriously.

Seth Godin is famous for saying that sometimes you have to fire your customers. If your customers don’t see eye to eye with you, maybe it’s time to part ways.

About three years ago I took on about twenty students.

They. Made. My. Life. Miserable.

Seriously, it was exhausting. You’ve never heard more excuses on why they couldn’t do this, why they wanted to do that, how much more advanced they were than the others students and how living as a Soul was soooo beneath them and shouldn’t we just talk this through endlessly before we actually do anything?

I fired them all except for Michelle.

Why not Michelle? Because we were on the same page. Michelle was willing to “do the work” (another Seth Godin saying). She wouldn’t give me any excuses, she wouldn’t talk endlessly around it. If she had any questions, she’d ask simple and direct ones and then she’d do the work. Afterwords, she’d relate her findings and we’d repeat the cycle.

She grew rapidly and is a totally different person than when we first started. For my part, it was practically effortless.

You see, Michelle and I had the same philosophy (still do). She was transparent, she didn’t make excuses, and she walked the talk. Sound familiar? Many of you have praised me for those same qualities.

Michelle and I see eye-to-eye. We’re on the same page.

Rob said in the previous post’s comments that maybe I’ve come to a fork in the road. I believe he is right, but the fork isn’t between NonAbusers and you guys, no, not at all.

NonAbusers.org is going to be my “work” career, much like I used to do freelance programming. The Vow of NonAbuse is for the masses. But here’s the thing: If you think you are above the masses because you are spiritual, then I’ve completely failed you in my message. It’s not OR’s, it’s AND’s. You’re divine AND you’re human. No matter what excuses you give me, I still can’t imagine a spiritual person not taking the Vow. Just imagine how hypocritical a priest, rabbi or imam would look if they refused to take the vow, and you’ll understand my surprise at all the resistance I got from you guys (yes, I hold you to those kind of standards).

No. NonAbusers.org is not the problem here—it is not the fork in the road. NonAbusers.org is just the catalyst. The fork is whether you guys are on board with me. If—like Michelle and Nathan—you’re on the same page with me. If you’re willing to be transparent. If you’re willing to rise above your fears.

If you’re willing to walk your talk.

That’s the fork I’m contemplating.

I love you guys.

But I may have to fire you.

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28 thoughts on “Excuses and Firing Your Customers

  1. It’s fear of the unknown that keeps us from making a commitment to such a sensitive topic. I believe this is something that is so foreign to most, that expecting someone to jump right in without more exploring this sensitive subject, is expecting too much too soon. If again, there are some who are willing to take the plunge, but not just yet because of it’s infancy…..keep the candle burning and feed the curious minds of what this is all about gradually….sensitively.

    • I too suspect that fear lies behind many of the excuses and hesitation. It isn’t an easy vow, I learn and grow from it every day (as I expect the now 3 others do). The simple fact of the matter is that you are going to repeatedly fail at this vow, but that isn’t the point. The point is your intention not harm others and make yourself aware of that part of you that really does want to. 🙂

      • I was writing a comment on me fears and explaining them. Then I got over the fears and did it anyway.

        The end.

        Yahwah bless Amen.

  2. Going back to yesterday’s post, Wayne, it’s worth exploring your mention of a sage who would ignore students that he felt weren’t taking his words seriously, that weren’t living his teachings, or no longer shared the same philosophies.

    It’s clear from some of the comments that some readers feel they still take your words VERY seriously and share the same philosophies, but perhaps it is YOU who have strayed from your own teachings here. I actually tend to agree.

    If you can’t imagine a spiritual person not taking the Vow, it’s simply because you are refusing to use your imagination. But you don’t even need to use it… I thought several of yesterday’s comments explained the reasoning very well. Yet rather than counter the reasoning offered, you dismiss it all as “excuses” and “fear.” I would love to see you actually comment on the comments, rather than simply dismiss them.

    Says Anthony de Mello, “Anytime you’re practicing renunciation, you’re deluded. Anytime you renounce something, you are tied forever to the thing you renounce. As long as you’re fighting it, you are giving it power. The only way to get out of this is to see through it. Don’t renounce it, SEE THROUGH IT. Understand its true value and you won’t need to renounce it; it will just drop from your hands.”

    You are not simply asking people to walk the walk — you are asking people to walk the walk and then publicly certify they have walked it. You are asking them to formally renounce something (and why only THAT thing? why not a dozen things?).

    Arguably, such public certification and formality is not fully consistent with how some think the walk might be walked. Not only is such “proof of purchase” not needed, it may actually run counter to real walking!

    You are dictating that form be added to the formless. That is now religion, not “mere” spirituality. If you want to start a religion, you are going to have to fire a LOT of current customers, if they don’t fire you first. Fear not, a religion will bring FAR more new customers than “mere” spirituality could ever bring you.

    Thoughts are your worst enemy. Yes. That cuts both ways, teacher… don’t you think? 😉

    • Ugh. Exhausting. Maybe I’m just tired of arguing with minds so much. I know there’s a place for them, but they just lead you farther and farther from the Divine. I’m sorry to say noah—and no offense by this, I know how enticing the mind is as compared to Reality—but your just confirming my point.

      Let’s just agree to disagree on this one.

      • No offense taken. But all you really seem to be saying is that you think your thoughts are more spirit-infused and less mind-based than mine, and thus more valid. But realize, they are still THOUGHTS, forms, illusion… not Reality.

        I just wonder, how can you be sure whose argument is more Reality-based and less Mind-based, yours or mine? Since I have no skin in the game and nothing to lose, it’s easy for me to be open to being “wrong” and you being “right.” It’s easy for me to be flippant, and to keep a sense of humor and perspective.

        Since you have a position to protect, though, you have a reason to care. I know from being in that position myself how dangerous it is… for me, it is a place of bias where I am prone to confuse Thought with Reality.

        So I think maybe you’re missing my point, Wayne. Who is tired of arguing with minds so much, You or Your Mind? It doesn’t sound like Her… not sure why She would argue, since She has no need to convince or to be right… only an ego has that need.

        It is not just You going up against Thoughts of Others here… it is THOUGHTS of You against Thoughts of Others. Why would your thoughts be more valid? They are still thoughts.

        Is your new nonabuse site Mind-based, or Reality-based, or both, and how would you truly know to what extent? I’m sure you gave the site and the idea behind it a lot of thought… but remember, thought just leads you farther and farther from the Divine.

        Just something to think about. 😉

  3. How strange that such a simple request can wreak such havoc on our human minds. I personally went through several differing reactions before deciding that I NEEDED to take this vow. The fact that I had any aversion to it in the first place was the determining force behind my decision to take this vow. Of course I don’t want to cause harm to any being, but I know that I sometimes make choices that can and do harm others. We all have manipulated, lied, cheated or acted in ways that we knew were harmful to others. But we did them anyway. We are human, dealing with the human condition and these are roadblocks that we must push through and learn from. Easy enough to say, right? Not so easy to be accountable for, though. It is my hope that by taking this vow AND being reminded of it, that I will begin to be more accountable for my words and actions. And as Wayne mentioned, there will be slip ups. I was already put to the test within 15 minutes after taking the vow with a very challenging patient I had to care for. I believe I kept it together and showed them kindness instead of the frustration I felt bubbling up.

    I am actually surprised with myself right now. I am an annoyingly noncommittal human. But something spoke to me here. And now I’m going for it. Perhaps this is my first step in honestly trying to walk my talk. Thank you Wayne for your authenticity and for giving us this opportunity.

    Peace be with us all,

    • Thank-you Heather. As you pointed out, it’s kind of amazing how quickly this can positively change not only your life, but the lives of those around you.

      Thanks for taking the Vow, and thanks for sharing your story. I hope it inspires others.

  4. “It isn’t an easy vow.”

    All due respect, but that’s why your reaction after a mere day seemed hasty and so out of character. Vows are serious business, and you must agree that no one should ever enter into one without careful reflection? If one chooses to ponder the implications for a few days (a drop in the bucket compared to eternity, I remind you), would it not be wiser to applaud such thoughtfulness, care, and discernment rather than openly criticize it? I dare say you should have celebrated the fact that ONLY two had signed up in the first day!

    And if, while pondering the implications of this vow, one is effectively threatened with being “fired,” can you see how that might be a bit offensive? Borderline…abusive even? The last thing you want is people taking your vow for the wrong reason (i.e. just to please Wayne and keep him from ending his cool blog), but this sense of duress you’ve now created may end up doing that very thing.

    On a practical note, man, you gotta simplify the site! It’s such a simple concept, and yet there are so many damn words! If you want this baby to go big time, one should see just a quick one or two sentence blurb, a button to upload a selfie, and boom, that’s it. Easy peasy. Supporting links down below for those who want to learn more, or link to the site, yadda yadda, but ugh, please don’t make me create an account!

  5. Wayne, I’m not a subscriber but I perhaps you shouldn’t get too discouraged by the lack of candidates for taking the vow. I reckon many of us are already working on non-abuse, how could we not be? Sometimes even just un unnecessary harsh word I let fly leaves me feeling bad for unnecessary hurt to others. People have different ways of committing to non-violence (not a new concept as you know). Mine is to practice awareness and conscious living. How can I pledge to never again let loose some kind of verbal abuse? Observing and being aware of all that goes on inside me are what are slowly transforming my life. Living like this on a moment to moment basis is also impossible, but I’m giving it my best shot. I don’t think not making a formal pledge means lack of commitment to non-abuse. As you said yourself in a response above, this is not the kind of vow one can keep. We’ll end up like the catholics going to confession and asking for forgiveness each Sunday. A pledge is a long-term thing, that stretches out in time. Seeking an appropriate response to all situations in the moment is work enough for me. I’ll continue to commit to that happily.

  6. It’s difficult to explain one’s reactions to this idea when the criticism – and that’s what it is – is that it’s ‘mind stuff’. My feeling is it’s the contrary, and find myself agreeing with many of the ‘reluctants’. There is no One Way. If you decide to go your own way with some committed acolytes, good luck – you will be missed.

  7. Interesting – all the heat this has generated.

    In the big, non-dual picture – it’s all perfect, even the abuse. Abuse is in this world of 10000 things. And being abusive can lock you into the mistaken view that you are a separate self.

    Like JimH I’m already engaged with my abusive side and I’m not feeling, at the moment, that I need to sign up. I might do it to please you Wayne 😉 But of course, there’s a deep contradiction in taking that approach.

    So, for the moment, I’ve put it on the back-burner and I’m wondering about it.

    Anyway, I appreciate your musings and photos. Thanks for your blog.


  8. Ummm, revisionist history? Wayne, I fired you. The only assignment I did not do was the 2 hour frog meditation, and that was not during our student-teacher relationship. I Enjoy your photos, but in all of the world you’ve found only 1 student you can teach? If I think the entire world is wrong, I’ve learned maybe its me.

  9. Question Wayne,,,
    Did you use the image of the hacked off tree because you are ‘stumped’ by our negligent response to your proposed vow,,,,,
    Or is that a chopping block for the heads you intend to fire?

  10. I’m afraid Glenn has hit the nail on the head: after vowing to not intentionally cause someone psychological harm for selfish reasons, Wayne’s recent posts and comments could be interpreted by some as… intentionally causing psychological harm for selfish reasons!

    Wayne, while you have defined abuse and given examples on your new site, that definition is still open to interpretation. Who will pass judgement on each individual case of possible abuse to define and decide if it really is abuse… the person being abused, or the one doing the abusing?

    I found your initial post, where you expressed disappointment, a little bit condescending. Did it not occur to you that threatening to stop blogging due to the low quality of your students might be offensive to some? A reader could easily perceive himself being talked down to. That’s abuse.

    If you were aware that the wording of your reaction might be borderline abusive, did you renew your vows of non-abuse? Because your follow-up post that knocked all the “excuse-makers” was even MORE condescending. So taking and renewing your vows served to do what, exactly?

    You have to admit, there is some irony in the fact that the only two posts of yours I’ve ever read that seemed remotely abusive came right AFTER you made a vow not to be abusive! You have provided me with another good reason (NOT an excuse) to not take any such vow.

    What I see in the past few days is more of You and less of Her showing up on the page. I’d be a fool not to learn from that lesson. You would be, too.

    I’m afraid you have not made a compelling case for why a formal, public vow of non-abuse is a good and needed spiritual practice. You have simply stated that it IS. You are asking people to follow the teacher, without actually giving a lesson.

    And while others have made compelling cases for why a formal, public vow of non-abuse is NOT a needed spiritual practice, you have abusively dismissed those arguments as “excuses” rather than accepting or debating them as being potentially valid reasons.

    ALL abuse stems from egoic reaction. Abuse is a natural and expected by-product of being asleep, of being reactive. The degree and extent to which people are abusive is a measure of how unconscious they are.

    I vow to myself and to Her to try to be more awake (more of Her) and less asleep (less of Me). I’m not going to publicly vow not to be Me. I won’t take a vow that I can’t keep. Been there, done that.

    • I don’t know how else to set the stage for what I have planned next. I’m sorry it seems abusive, but as I said in this post (newer so you may not have seen it), and other comments here, I do have an explanation coming.

      Please keep in mind that this blog is my online journal, my online home, and as such you are a guest in it. I know that is easy to forget.

  11. I don’t think God would ever fire any of his children because they had their own pace or did not hear his voice or call. That they did not do what he expected of them in the exact manner that he wanted?

    In fact, the story of the prodigal son is perhaps a wonderful parable of love’s patience. It actually points highly to the value of allowing through grace for others to unfold as they should not as we expect of them as teachers or mentors.

    If I may share the following video of another teacher that speaks to this value of tasting the fruits of life, that we have to accept that there are trials and tribulations, and that the Father is deeply touched by the return of his children when they have realized through their own pace and heart that wisdom of coming home.


    So if you decide to fire me; know that I will either be out in the fields, or in the home of my father.

    • I’m sorry wayne, I don’t see anything Judgemental in the above post. I was in complete presence of love and grace and the words came from the heart. The first paragraph is a question and challenge in regards to your title not a judgement against you. If it was not a judgement against you, then it must be your misinterpretation of it, your own story view as it were?

      The words then speak to allowing each other to fall into their own wisdom with love and patience. That we all have to be allowed our mistakes and forgiven them, this is the very nature of compassion yes? I do not see how any of this is judgemental.

      “Our Sorrows and wounds are healed only when we touch them with compassion”


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