In my book Million Dollar Habits I wrote at length about the dangers posed by Drain People, those who drain others of time, energy, peace of mind, and, all too often, money. Unfortunately, there are no statutes on the books outlawing the actions of Drain People. The only foolproof defense against them is to keep them out of your life.
As a now-forgotten student of human nature once warned, you’ll never smell like a rose if you roll in a dunghill. No matter what else you do right, if you associate with the wrong people, it’s virtually impossible to succeed.
In addition to causing you endless complications, Drain People will make you look bad in the eyes of others because of the generally accepted truth in the old adage, “Birds of a feather flock together.” Whom you associate with is like a neon sign that informs the world where you are on the success ladder at any given point in time.
Early in my business career, a young hotshot marketing guru (“Frank Fabricator”) with whom I was involved in a business deal so offended me with his blatant deceit that I made the decision to strike him from my life and cut off all communication. I reasoned that if he could stoop to such a low level of integrity on this particular occasion, it must be such an entrenched part of his personality that he would not hesitate to do it again if the opportunity were to present itself.
Nevertheless, Frank sent several letters of apology to me over the years, and, masochist that I was, I finally relented. I not only reopened the lines of communication with him, over time I began discussing a number of business proposals with him as well.
The gory details of the story make me blush, so I’ll just skip to the bottom line. After a brief period of time, Frank, in a clear-cut manner, proved that the first time around was no accident — that he was an individual who was capable of descending to dastardly levels of insincerity. Not only did he once again display a stunning lack of character at the moment of truth ($), he managed to actually outdo his earlier reprehensible deeds.
This little anecdote may have reminded you of a similar experience from your own past, because most of us take the same classes during our enrollment at Homer Simpson U. It’s why they stamped “Doh!” on our diplomas when we graduated.
We would all do well to remember the Law of the Scorpion, based on a fictional tale of a scorpion who asks a frog if he can hitch a ride on his back to get to the other side of the pond. You already know the rest of the story or you wouldn’t be reading my blog, so I’ll just skip to the moral of this little tale, which is simple and straightforward: Once a Drain Person, always a Drain Person.
Meaning that a Drain Person simply can’t help himself, because his desire to drain you of valuable resources is irreversibly ingrained in his nature. Always keep this in mind and heed the wisdom contained in an ancient proverb that warns: You must have gold to make gold.
Make no mistake about it, eliminating Drain People from your life can be a difficult task. One reason for this is that sidestepping a persistent Drain Person can cause significant discomfort. Another is that even when you know someone is a Drain Person, it’s often tempting to make an exception for short-term profit. This is known as: Major Mistake. Trust me, you can’t afford the long-term cost of such an exception.
In addition, it’s human nature to want to give others the benefit of the doubt, which is why you often hear remarks like, “But he means well.” Maybe I’m dense, but I don’t understand what “he means well” means.
I know what high blood pressure is. I know what a headache is. I know what aggravation is. But I’m not sure what “means well” is. Does it mean that someone should be allowed to rob you of your valuable time and energy because he purportedly has good intentions?
The truth is that you don’t have enough hours in your life to give sufficient attention to the people whom you already know to be worthy of your time, so why stretch your welcome boundaries to include people who aren’t? It’s far better to trust your instincts and err on the side of caution.
I find that with each passing year, my instincts about people continue to improve, and undoubtedly you’ve found the same to be true of yours. The guideline I try to follow when it comes to handling potential Drain People is: When in doubt, keep them out!
The hard, cold fact is that people rarely, if ever, change, so it’s a big mistake to believe that a Drain Person will evolve into something he is not. On the contrary, bad character is malignant; it grows and spreads if not removed early on. Thus, once a person begins to drain you of time, energy, and other valuable resources, it’s wise to cut your losses short and get him completely out of your life.
And, by the way, be sure to close the door behind him, because once a small evil has managed to make its way inside, you can be sure that greater evils are waiting to gain entrance.