At an early age, my Dad taught me to despise the word “renegotiate.” If Lee Jolles had his way, he would have had it dropped from the dictionary. Let’s take a look at the definition, and you’ll see why two Jolles men dislike this word:
Negotiate (something) again in order to change the original agreed terms.
That’s a pretty kind definition. I think a more accurate definition would be this: “Breaking a deal you made because you don’t like it anymore.” How often do we read about athletes who made a deal, then exceeded expectations, and then wanted to renegotiate a deal? Has there been even one case of an athlete not meeting expectations, and then marching in to renegotiate a contract because of their lack of performance? I’m usually a fan of labor, but I’m squarely on the side of management here.
This lesson began to take shape early in my life, when I was in high school and ran my own gutter cleaning business. I was pretty green, and frequently wrote up estimates without fully understanding the depth of the job. I’d quickly look over a job by walking it off from the ground, and throw a number on a piece of paper. Once I actually got up on a roof, I’d realize that the job was bigger than I had thought, and I’d complain to my Dad that I deserved more. That was the first time I heard the mantra: “A deal is a deal.”
Throughout my career as a salesman and entrepreneur, this same sticky topic would come up from time to time. I’d quickly look over a job, and throw a number on a piece of paper. Occasionally, I’d realize the job was bigger than I had thought and I would want to revisit that proposal… but I never did because no matter how I would try and justify it, I would hear the voice of Lee Jolles telling me, “A deal is a deal.”
What’s the moral here? Perhaps it’s learning to climb up on the roof and look at the job carefully before you make a deal. In non-gutter cleaning language, take your time, and be very careful of the deals you strike, because at the end of the day, a deal is a deal… even if you don’t like the deal anymore.