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You Thought You Didn’t Need A Professional Fixer, Just Wait Till You Read This

You Thought You Didn’t Need A Professional Fixer, Just Wait Till You Read This

Do you have a problem and don’t want anyone to know? Call a professional fixer.  For the average person, legal help would be the first resort. However, there are many ways to skin a fish. Fixers literally fix any kind of problem, a la Olivia Pope, of ABC’s hit show, Scandal.  They come in during moments of crisis and publicity faux pas.  It’s easy to think professional fixers are out of your reach, and that you have to fix your own mess. And you may be right—many people can’t afford the thousands it takes to hire one. That’s why you must seek out a “fixer” among your own.  Still not convinced you need one?

Here’s a breakdown of why you do.

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1. You lack street knowledge.

To some, the street literally means the sidewalk.  Across urban neighborhoods, there are savvy, street smart men and women who have made something of themselves without school.  They are starting companies, running them, or contributing to the arts or commerce in some kind of beneficial way. Study them. You never know where these relationships lead; you must keep your options open and your network wide.  Without certain street knowledge and ways to negotiate, you fall victim to games, cons, tricksters, and all kinds of confusion in everyday life.

2. Your professional network is made up of mostly co-workers or high school buddies.

After the age of 25, you need more.  Branch out into different social circles that reflect your grown-up interests in business, philanthropy or the arts.  You will meet people there who can introduce you to people you need to meet. An affluent professional network takes years to cultivate.  With proper care, you will find that this alone can change your entire life.

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3. You don’t know anyone who can vouch for your character if you are in trouble.

Everyone needs someone they can call on to write a decent letter of recommendation or sit in the witness stand. No one will second-guess them because they are not related to you, like your mother or Uncle Bobby.  Establish a network with successful types who have your back. A professional fixer can find this person on your behalf.

4. You don’t know anyone who can greenlight a project or decision.

Do you need to get your documents approved to move on with your life? Someone who can greenlight a project can make a difference between eating or not, waiting or not, is a lifesaver and game changer.  This is particularly important for those in government and entertainment sectors where red tape or a guy in a big office can stand between you and a dream.  Fixers can open doors.

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5. You don’t know anyone who can give you money, lots of it.

A fixer with money can hire a PR pro or even a brand management firm to help you, and they can also pay lawyers to work on your behalf, too.  This is essential when you are broke and have no other recourse.  The fixer will see it as an investment in you.  This means that you must be someone of promise or accomplishment.  If a professional fixer doesn’t have money, then they should have access.

6. You have too many friends, and not enough associates.

A professional fixer can be a long-term associate (not necessarily friend) who has the following things: money, access, connections to shadow places like the street, clandestine partners and resources, and some charm. Friends have too many questions.  Associates are best to turn to in a pickle.  You won’t disappoint them since they have no expectations.  They have little to lose because they haven’t invested their time in you, and yet, may be intrigued.  If you’re being blackmailed by someone you know, but need in your life, a friend may just ask you to call the cops.  Olivia Pope, would never do that.

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7. You went to the wrong school.

Most young fixers in-the-making are already in high places.  They are at the Ivy League college or exclusive prep school establishing relationships.  If you went to the local college, it’s not too late to get it right.  If you’re already fairly accomplished, schools like Harvard and Oxford have specialized, short term programs for professionals looking to enhance their skills.  Get in one of these, and grab as many business cards as possible.  You may need it one day. Fixers have to start somewhere.

A relationship with a professional fixer is transactional.  You only call them when you need them.  If you go with someone who is not quite “professional” make sure you have something to offer them in return—notoriety, secrecy, or an introduction.  Like the saying goes: nothing in life is ever free.

Featured photo credit: href= via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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