Getting Out of the Victim Zone

Getting Out of the Victim Zone

“You would not believe how good it felt to throw that insurance adjuster out into the street!” In complete disbelief, I continued listening to this shop owner describe his recent proclaimed victory. “If they won’t let me put new OEM parts on this lady’s Pontiac, they can take it to one of their damn “approved” shops for all I care!” I fully expected him to then raise a torch and pitchfork to continue his crusade against the insurance industry. He went on to say, “You know, Dave, you just can’t make money in this business anymore, there’s no future in it!”

Where you are – America, Canada, or Timbuktu – doesn’t matter. It is tough out there. If people want to take a stance on insurance direct repair programs, or any other political issue, I respect them. However, there is a big difference between an activist on a mission to create positive change and someone using the world’s challenges as an excuse for their own inability to succeed in life. If you truly believe something is hindering your ability to succeed in business, act! Just please stop complaining!

I have been in the collision repair business for many years and, I admit, there have been times I have been upset, much like our angry friend above. However, I learned years ago that there is a very large circle of concern in the world and a much smaller circle of influence within it. A part of life you can control and another you cannot. Sadly, many shop leaders don’t know the difference and waste a huge portion of their lives worrying about problems they have little to no influence over. They allow the uncontrollable aspects of their lives to take control, and try to justify their failures, citing all the external ‘reasons’ they are unable to find success. They have entered what I call the “victim zone!”

Misery loves company and victims tend to herd together. You can see them all over social media and meet them at industry gatherings. Is technology, consolidation, or the insurance industry killing our industry? Nope. The independent collision repairer is killing themselves by their refusal make the necessary changes within themselves and their businesses to adjust to an ever-changing industry!

People instinctively want to belong to a group and easily get drawn into a tribe mentality, which by itself is not necessarily bad, but the way it’s utilized, is. Peer groups should be used for good! People that want success need to choose to hang out with others who are successful.

With all the challenges our industry faces, I totally understand why minds and actions so easily drift into the victim zone, but we can overcome this urge in order to be successful and happy in life. The negativity experienced while in the victim zone sets up a vicious cycle leading to self-fulfilling prophecies where bad things keep happening. When bad things happen, people confirm and strengthen their faulty beliefs… which then causes them to stay in their comfortable victim zone… thereby causing them to avoid making the necessary changes to improve the situation… which then leads back to more bad things happening.

Take a look at the doom loop diagram:

Doom Loop

We all find ourselves trapped in the victim zone from time to time. Some more than others. The secret to escaping the victim zone is to first, assume personal responsibility, then make a firm decision to quit blaming outside circumstances for the current situation and, finally, take action!

Once we assume this responsibility, it is time to begin work on the things we do have some level of control over. For example: someone taking personal responsibility may not like what direct repair programs (DRPs) are doing to the industry but choose to work harder on improving their shop’s customer experience and make the DRP game less relevant to their business. On the other side, someone in the victim zone unconsciously chooses their own negative fate by becoming consumed by the problem instead of putting in the work necessary to improve their business despite the problem.

Taking personal responsibility can be frightening. It may be scary as hell to assume this responsibility, but the real freedom that we all want in life is found when we take responsibility for where we are today and where we will go tomorrow. The power to succeed is yours!

If you are ready to be proactive and exit the victim zone, check out our course “Developing a Winner’s Mindset” and get ready for a transformed mentality that leads to success!


About the Author:

Dave Luehr
Dave shares his experience from over 30 years as a collision repair industry leader in leadership, lean and Theory of Constraints. Once the owner of a body shop himself, Dave draws on the realities of a real world collision repair shop in his consulting, writing and keynote speeches.

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