A few months ago I had to terminate a contract with another professional. We had been teaching a class together for an organization. Among other issues, the direction of the organization had changed and a two month contract had already been dragged out to three. After I had explained my position the other party commented “I know you, you are not like the others of today’s generation that just ignore contracts. This has to be a serious reason for you to terminate this contract”.
I have been pondering those words the past few weeks as I have terminated several contracts.
I negotiated my release from two contracts of service providers and also ended giving services to two clients I had been serving. It was not something I did lightly. For three of the contracts I had been feeling there had been issues for weeks. I had decided it was more unethical to stay in the contract then to complete it. At the beginning of these contracts the terms had not been clearly defined. As a result there were underlying issues which were not being discussed. The parties were not complying with spoken and unspoken terms that were either discussed or implied during negotiations.
For the other I had been enjoying everything about the relationship, I thought. When I was released, however, I began a process that showed me when I made the decision to sign that contract I had not known everything about the company. After I had signed the contract there were parts of working with that company I sincerely disagreed with. I let it go because most everything about the service being given was great. Those elements that were “off” for me, however, had caused me some stress. I didn’t work through the stress with anyone in the company. What happened was sad but not to unexpected. I created a large problem for myself and others.
I can’t thank any member of these companies, clients, or partners enough for releasing me from all five of these contracts.
In my “Top Three Secrets To Earn Six-Figures While Working Part-Time” I teach to “sell-right”. Selling right means you make sure the offer is clear at the beginning. It also means that once the offer is made, accepted and a contract completed you have to continue to sell for the contract to be completed. If situations arise that make anything about the sell “wrong” then the contract (and the sale) need to be renegotiated and perhaps terminated.
I could go on and on about this and the lessons I’ve learned (real estate, vending and coaching have lots of contracts).
I will make two more comments. In their book Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box the Arbinger Institute teaches that when you make a choice that is “off” for you and decide to continue on the path anyway things will go badly. I have lived that and relived that the past few months. I am being more careful in my choices. I will still be a “Ready, Fire, Aim” Entrepreneur. I will also be a grounded, consistent and clear entrepreneur who isn’t afraid to discuss or renegotiate a contract!
The second is about marriage contracts.
I know of who a man who has been married at least four times. The first wife had dated the man for over a year and was shocked when he became a different person the day they left the alter. She saw his “problems” and had the marriage annulled. The second wife had known him for years but only dated for weeks. She felt something “off” during the first few months but was married six years before his problems became her demons. I knew both the first wife and second wife personally. They told similar stories about the first couple weeks of their marriage. The first recognized the issues, got out and moved on with “barely a scratch” to a beautiful life. The second has been trying to heal the issues for the ten plus years since she terminated her marriage. Learn from this example. Know as much about the person or company you are getting into a contract with but never ever be afraid to walk away if after the contract is signed it becomes the wrong place for you, or the other party, to be.
Now I want to add. Divorce, breakups and terminated contracts are not always required.
I prefer they DON’T happen.
In the situation I started this blog with, I had tried from the first couple of weeks of the partnership to resolve the biggest issues that would eventually lead to my early termination. With the four that I just recently refer to, each is a different story. On two I was done. I would not have continued services. On the other two if I had attempted to talk about the issues before a “problem” rared it’s ugly head I think we could have resolved and continued the contract. In my heart I truly wish both of those contracts could have been continued but the other party would not allow it because I let it go on so long that the “problem” or “crisis” had come up as they warn of in Leadership and Self Deception.
(side note, it’s one client and one service provider for each)
During the last four weeks my husband and I have had “moments” as well.
Moments which were extremely tense.
We haven’t had moments this intense in over 5 years so they were even harder for me. However, I knew that neither of us wanted our marriage to end, no matter how hard these moments were and how wrong the relationship felt in those moments. I also had seen us here before and I knew from experience if we could work through these things we’d have some great connections and a wonderful relationship AFTER the conflicts. I also knew, as he had experienced from his last marriage, that if I did everything possible to resolve these issues and he chose to walk out, God would grant me with a new wonderful relationship. Only when I act from that place can I truly stand for myself and make my needs fully and completely heard.
If you find yourself in a contract which is not “on” do all possible to resolve it as soon as it feels that way. The faster you speak up, the sooner you can find peace in or out of the contractual relationship. Ask the other party if the issues can be resolved. Find a mediator to attempt to resolve them if needed. Never, ever stay in a contract or covenant where you are putting someone else’s needs ahead of your own whether a coach, a spouse or a client!
Tell me your stories:
Have you ever been in a contract you did not terminate when you felt it was “off”?
Have you ever had a contractual relationship resolve after you spoke up?
Have you ever terminated a contract you wished you hadn’t later?