Better late than never?

Reynolds Mountain views
Djuan is my neighbor, we met and began working together in 1990. He’s still at Disney in Theme Park Operations. Michael is his (and now my) Australian friend.

Better late than never?

Woke up yesterday feeling awful that i am still trying to defend my no recording mantra. The event planner began promoting me as a speaker weeks before he spoke with me to coordinate expectations, logistics, etc.

Remember, there was a person in between us and a casual conversation about me speaking. The event’s location is a stone’s throw away from the Montessori School our son attended for a decade. i’d either walk or ride my bicycle to it.

Had we spoken before he began promoting, he would have NEVER promoted me because the “no, i can’t speak if you’re going to record” would have been ridiculously easy to say and not discuss, at all – it’s a non-negotiable. Period.

(Note: even after my repeated stance – no recording – i found myself still trying to find a compromise so he’d be happy. This led to me preparing my standard, every-engagement, simple, one-page contract. In hindsight, i was grasping at straws and hours later i knew it was futile…i never sent it.)

The saga continues now, Monday, May 7…(and this next paragraph is repetitive on purpose)…

Yesterday morning, May 7, i wrote my standard “One-Page Simple Contract” to send to the event owner that, like every other Disney Institute and personal speaking contract since 1999 states, “Video and audio recording strictly prohibited.” Note: the event owner had not agreed to this yet.

Then something strange yet powerful happened.

i realized the event owner wasn’t ever going to listen.

This sparked a coming to my senses moment through a series of personal reflection questions:

  • Why am i still trying to coax the event owner to abandon recording?
  • Why didn’t he agree to this the very first time i said it’s a non-negotiable?
  • Why am i stuck in this cycle of being (manipulated) talked back into doing some version of video & audio recording?
  • What am i going to do to get out of this unhealthy cycle?
  • What stopped him from saying, “Whatever you need me to do to make you feel comfortable, I’ll do it?”
  • What’s stopping me from just saying, “Look, i’ve done all i can to get you to not record anything in exchange for me speaking for free. Why do you continue to press me for a compromise and why are you not willing to honor my 20-year, lifetime request?

It kills me that it has come to this.

On our last call, which i initiated, i told him, in essence, “Sorry, there’s no way i can move forward with you.”

Astonishingly, he tried a fourth time to start the manipulation and guilt tactic and i just said, “Stop!”

He continued, and began saying that i said things i never said.

This was eye-opening.

Something is going on behind the scenes with him and there’s no way i’ll ever know, but i knew for sure in that moment, that my decision to graciously exit was perfect.

He was so insistent and argumentative that i instinctively raised my voice (not yelling, no profanity) and got very direct – like if you had a home intruder. Told him, “i’m done, it’s over, i wish you the best, good-bye.”

There’s a little more about this story as he tried to use my colleague to get in the middle and i advised my colleague to not fall into “the manipulation and guilt” trap.

And here we are now, i’m feeling better already.

Thank you Disney, for teaching me about always behaving admirably.

Writing has been a wonderful way to look back, reflect, and feel at peace with the decision. Thank you WordPress for changing my life.

PS. In case it isn’t obvious, the event planner’s story is going to be very different than my account. i’m aware of this truth, hopeful i’m dead wrong, and at peace either way.

Son, you may never fully appreciate how your ongoing, unbiased and honest assessment helped me question my willingness to give so much benefit of the doubt to the event planner, when in reality, that gracious behavior never made an impact.

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Published by jeff noel

Retired Disney Institute Keynote Speaker and Prolific Blogger. Five daily, differently-themed personal blogs (about life's 5 big choices) on five different sites.