Not all that Glitters is Gold

Life is a journey and there are multiple destinations along the way.  As a small business owner in the Executive Search and Talent Development world there are new destinations every month, namely clients.  I love meeting new people and my first impressions are typically correct and on target.  There have been times when that first impression was off the mark, but my intuition is typically a good guide.

There are times when I move forward with work even though I have a nagging thought about the compatibility of my values and world view when compared with those I work with.  Don’t get me wrong, I have diverse group of friends and also have a very diverse client group.  We strive to do our best for every client, but there are times when even my best doesn’t seem to be on target.

There are many reasons to be in business.  I do what I do because I love the work and enjoy working with others.  There are times when challenges present themselves and my first approach to challenges is prayer.  On the flip side when things go well I also go to prayer, but is more of a prayer of thanksgiving.

Growing a business is fun, but keeping things between the ditches is sometimes a challenge.  Inputs change and that affects output.  Change is inevitable.  Without this change our lives, my life, would become quite boring and it would not provide much opportunity for growth.

Here are a few simple guidelines I use to determine whether the glittery object I see in front of me is gold or just a shiny distraction.

1.  Take time for self reflection and also be open to feedback; you never know how others are impacted by your behavior or work unless you ask and listen without qualification.  I make mistakes, many of them, and I seek to understand what they are in order to improve.

2.  Take people at their word until such time they give evidence that this is not possible.  Rules, regulations and agreements are helpful tools, but if I cannot take someone at their word then I may need to keep looking.

3.  Don’t be afraid to say NO.  Saying no to a client is not a bad thing, it may be the best thing.  There are clients who are not good fits for our firm and they may see us as not being the right fit either.  It is a big world out there and people should find the right fit when they look for business partners.

4.  Seek to build a partnership with your clients.  I hate the word vendor and the roots of this word come from the Latin venditor, a word which has a meaning that you are one who might sell for bribes and corrupt payments.  When a client uses the word vendor I try to change the conversation to partner.  I don’t want to be seen as negotiating for any way to make a buck.  My integrity is too important for that.

5.  When I am wrong, I try to admit this.  Humble pie is not my favorite dessert, but it is one that must be eaten in order to remain healthy.  We must be open to admitting our mistakes and we should ask for forgiveness directly from the one we have wronged.  On the flip side we should not beat down those who may have wronged us and we should be open to offering them forgiveness when they ask for it, regardless of the gravity of the situation.

This is just a short list of guidelines, and I hope to return to this subject again soon.

What are your boundaries in working with others?  I would like to hear more.