The Intangibles: Payment Comes in Many Forms

by John Zajaros on November 14, 2011

Change – Old Friends – The Old/New You

I had an interesting conversation with an old friend the other day.

However, before I talk about the conversation, I think a bit of an explanation, based on an observation, is in order.

The thing about old friends is, they knew you…before…way back when.

“Way back when!”

Before everything!

And then, very often, during everything else.

They knew you “way back when!”

When you were someone else.

When you weren’t the person you’ve, hopefully, grown into.

Grown up and into.

They knew the person before the person.

The person you had to grown into…just to get here…to where you are now…hopefully!

There’s the key word:












Unfortunately, most of our old friends will never see us as anything other than that old friend…the person who no longer resides at your address.

In your body.

Under your skin.

You know the one I mean?

The person who died…so you could live…hopefully!

Your true self!

Does anyone really know their true Self?

It takes a lot of searching to come to terms with the True Self.

Without getting all Eastern on you…

…I believe that if we are to succeed in life…

…I mean truly succeed…

…we have to come to terms with…

…come face-to-face with…

…our True Self!

And own him or her!

 …as the kids say, anyway.

It has been said that “You can’t change the spots on a leopard.”

At least that’s what everyone says.

You know everyone, don’t you?

Sure, we all do!

Do we?

People resist change.

That is a certainty!

Is it?


Most, anyway.

People resist change with every fiber of their being.

Both in the singular…and collectively.

Religions, political parties, unions, administrators; they have all made it a way of being, the defining characteristic(s) of their organization or organizations.

Nuns and even many priests left their respective orders enmass after Vatican II!

Politicians have been decimated at the polls for flip-flopping once too often on a critical issue.

In spite of all that, people do change…and often.

All we have to do is watch the current presidential campaign, and particularly the Republican debates, to get a sense of just how crucial our ability to change is; and, how adept we have become at it.

When it comes to the mechanisms of change…and the justification for change…we have become inventive in a way that would make Thomas A. Edison proud.

Thank goodness!

We have to change….

While it’s more comfortable to believe that people…things…circumstances…everything…remain the same…constant.

Can you imagine a life of complete and utter certainty?




I hope not…it sounds like death to me!

That brings me to the topic of today’s post. That conversation I had with an old friend.

Phew! Bet you thought I’d forgotten all about it, didn’t you?

You see, my old friend knows just how hard things have been since 1998….almost 14 years ago.

He knew me before.

He knows how it started.

He knows how sick I was.

He knows how hard it was to find a doctor who hadn’t written me off.

He knows how impossible my family’s situation became.

He knows just what we lost.

He has no idea what we gained.

He was too close to the loss.

The Pain.

The Depression.

The Addiction.

The almost utter defeat!

Thank God for those 2 words:




You see, I was addicted to paid medication. An addict!

In spite of our enlightened, outward attitude with respect to addiction, and particularly a medically supervised addiction, we are still quite Victorian just beneath the skin.

Maybe some things won’t be, can’t be, changed?

The debate will, undoubtedly, resurface here and from time to time.

Be that as it may, it is quite impossible not to develop an addiction given the illness, the amount of time, and the number of surgeries it required…just to survive.

I was, some say always will be, an addict.

As a consequence of chronic pain, chronic depression, and crushing despair, the way my friend looks at me has been forever tainted.

Imagine that?

A double whammy!

Two stigmas neatly wrapped into a single package, a single self:


An addiction: To drugs

A mental illness: Depression

The funny thing about people…and the way they see you?

Very often, once someone has seen you at your worst, it is often impossible for them to get rid of that picture and see you for all you overcame…all you are now.

Instead of being able to look at all you’ve endured, all you’ve overcome, that stigma persists. Perhaps that sort of thing is hardwired.

Who knows?

So, imagine my friend’s response the other day when I told him I had taken on a client and had done so gratis…sans fee…on the cheap…for free.

Well, he looked at me as if I had just lost my last screw. He knew I had several loose, had to have. After all, I started my own business rather than find a safe job in academia or as a trainer somewhere.

Now I was in business for myself and taking on clients and forgetting to ask for the order and a check.

I could have said:

Think about it for just one moment, Bill. Think about the place I have to be at, with respect to my business and my family obligations, just to be able to consider taking someone on for less than a full fee.

I could have said:

I am thinking 2, 3, 4 years down the road. I know this kid will make it and, when he does, who do you think is going to be there?

I could have said:

I am getting paid in many ways. The intangible rewards will far outdistance any perceived losses. The set up fee and monthly maintenance fees will be recouped many times over…and within the next 12-18 months.

I could have said:

Bill, you should know me better by now. You should know that I have already thought all of your concerns through, many times over…and this is still a Win/Win!

Instead, I said:

Bill, I appreciate your concern, and your friendship, but let’s keep business and personal separate and distinct. I understand how you feel, I felt the same way, until I considered the intangibles. Bill, I have my reasons and, I am certain that when the time comes, you will see as I do, that this made good, long term business sense.

Bill looked at me, smiled, and shook his head. Then, he mumbled something about the “Feel, Felt, Saw” close I had just walked him through, smiled again, and patted me on the back. Bill was no doubt wondering, perhaps one last time, if I had lost all my screws or if one or two were still rattling around up in my head, somewhere.

It’s somehow sad that another man, a new client who’s known me for less than 2 years, aware of what I’ve recently overcome and seeing it as an advantage, was able to look beyond all Bill lived through. The former has placed his new business, and by extension his and his employees’ families’ welfare, in my hands.

Sadly, a man who has known me for years, knows first hand the battles I’ve fought and won…the war I won…was unable to get beyond the stigmas associated with a protracted illness.

Perhaps we haven’t changed that much after all?

I am still an optimist.

I am still hopeful.

How could it be otherwise after all I have been able to overcome…after all my family has overcome with me.

Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

John Zajaros (personal email address)
440-821-7018 (cell)

NOTE: Connie has a new garden. A new home. We have replanted ourselves and Connie no longer needs to feel sad. All summer and through the fall, Connie has decorated our new home with baskets of flowers. Life has returned to The Zajaros Household.

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