I have a problem saying no.
Today, I had an interview with a potential client and within the first 5 minutes I knew I wanted to say no to the project.
Of course not.
I ungracefully pushed through more questions while I scrambled to find a way out. I eventually bowed out 20 minutes into our conversation.
Why didn’t I do this in the first 5 minutes of our conversation?
I’d just given away 20 minutes that I had full control over.
I could have focused that time on one of the many projects I’m committed to or potentially spending time with my family.
And yet I didn’t.
Internal Struggle With Decision Making
In the midst of my conversation with said potential client I felt stuck. It reminds me of the dreams where you’re being chased and you go to scream but nothing comes out when you open your mouth.
And instead of coming right out and saying, “I don’t think I’m quite right for this project,” I continued to answer questions and discuss the impending project as if I intended to take it.
As I was stalling, I was superficially worried that when I said, “this may not be a good fit,” they would be upset that I engaged them in the first place. I was afraid of the backlash for being honest.
Or was I?
During our conversation I was also making dinner for my daughter and unsuccessfully managing her attempts at having a conversation with me while I was on the phone, only heightening my anxiety around saying “No.”
Feelings Aren’t Fertile Ground
With every step I take, I’m sowing seeds.
And with each time I sow, I’m expecting a return, even if I don’t directly see the return.
I believe my inclination to say no was derived from the weird vibe I got from this potential client; one that I’ve come to know very well. This feeling told me our relationship would likely end in disappointment, stemming from unrealistic expectations around the services I provide.
Having plenty of leads is a cornerstone for a consultant.
Was I worried about this seed I was sowing being squandered based on my feelings?
Was something deeper rooted nagging me?
As I navigate the waters of being a consultant and building my own Amazon Growth Agency I’m learning what it means to trust myself.
As I get older, and I’m still young at almost 32, I continually reaffirm the value in logical reasoning over emotional reasoning. I attempt to reject emotional reactions to situations as emotions by nature are fleeting.
They can’t be substantiated just by feeling them.
This doesn’t mean I’m unfeeling. I’m just cautious about acting on those feelings.
I see many young people subjecting themselves to their emotions in many facets of life, instead of utilizing rationale and facts. Had I been that naive once?
When I have an immediate emotional reaction to a situation I try to reflect on that feeling in the moment and either validate it or discard it.
Hindsight is 20/20 and I later realized that I was hesitant to turn down a lead because I didn’t want to trash an opportunity solely because of my personal proclivities.
I can’t expect to like everyone. That’s just silly.
But if I know I won’t be happy in a project and have a sense of unrealistic expectations that are unmanageable in the long run, I need to turn that project down.
Neither myself or the client will be comfortable working on the project and my initial hesitation will have just delayed the inevitable.
Every answer can’t be a yes, otherwise I’m more than likely taking on projects that lack longevity or are below my paygrade. At the end of the day, I have to turn a profit.
That’s Business 101.
Being True To Yourself
My relationships with clients are equally a part of my resume as the results I garner so having positive interactions can greatly impact the future of my business.
Word of mouth goes both ways.
Being true to myself means knowing what I’m capable of, whether I’ve tackled that skillset previously or not. It also means acknowledging my role in creating an optimal work environment.
Taking on the wrong project could mean I create a negative experience not just for myself, but my team and the client. My choice has externalities that affect more than me.
If I really am the expert on my subject matter, and I am, then I also need to be the expert that recognizes what successful engagement looks like.
I can’t expect the client to take the lead, especially if they have never been in this type of relationship before.
I must take the reins and lead the group.
Even if I stear us right off a cliff.
Easy Like Monday Morning
Some of my hesitation in turning down a new project revolves around a concern of avoiding difficulties. I don’t want to fall victim to my own insecurities by only taking on projects I feel comfortable with.
I want to be uncomfortable.
I want the challenge of the unknown.
I have to remind myself of this on a weekly basis, although I usually respond with a nod of recognition towards myself.
Even though it took me awhile to realize it, putting myself in uncomfortable circumstances has been fruitful for me in the past.
Difficult projects provide me with exponential skill growth compared to projects that fit nicely inside of my work template for the processes I’ve created.
I also like the thrill of the challenge.
Taking on an onerous project, however, is much different than taking on a project that is outside my given skillset. That would be setting up the client and myself for an unpleasant outcome.
Totally different post.
When I spearhead myself into the arena of difficult work, I’m much more prepared than if I had merely stumbled upon it.
I’m expecting adversity. I want it, in fact.
I’m so much more prepared because I’ve already told myself in the beginning, “I’m making it to the other side.”
The advantage of commitment is mine, regardless of the circumstances.
I may not know the specific road ahead but I’m akin to the routing of the map.
Over the past year, I’ve developed a lot spiritually and it wasn’t intentional at first.
I’ve been working to quiet my initial reaction to any given situation and listen to that still small voice inside that helps guide me.
Some would call it intuition. I call it the Holy Spirit.
I know, I know. It sounds a little crazy. Like mysticism even. And by all measures, it really does seem like foolishness.
I’m ok with it though, so no need to take pity on me.
Being guided intrinsically gives me an advantage. Instead of relying on circumstances to be my motivation, I’m guided by something that keeps me connected to my true purpose in life; to be in relationship with God.
I’m focused on the long term, regardless of momentary strain.
Listening to this still small voice isn’t easy. Often times it requires me to be quiet; to quiet my thoughts, my mind, and literally spend time being quiet.
I’m creating space. Space for a deeper insight on the course that is being charted.
I have to open myself up to either direction.
Finding an answer takes time. It could take days or months.
I never hear a clear “Yes” or “No,” in case you’re wondering.
My objective really isn’t to get an answer. It’s more about checking myself to make sure I’m aligned with my purpose.
I could even misstep. In all actuality though, what seems like a misstep is merely par for the course.
So was I listening to that still small voice inside or was I overrun with emotions with this potential client?
The Easy Route vs. The Right One
There isn’t one designated path for me but I’m aware of my overall purpose.
I know the general direction I’m headed, although what I face along the way is completely unknown.
Staying focused on Him so I’m not distracted by circumstances is key.
And ultimately, I have to take the lead in my life.
I can’t wait for anyone else to push me along.
I can’t wait for God to miraculously show up and provide me with opportunities.
I have to get up, get out, and sow those seeds.
Once those seeds have been sown, I don’t sit around and wait for them to grow either; I keep moving forward.
Patience is truly a virtue.
And sometimes, it’s about not sowing seeds.
It’s about not planting these seeds where I know they will be pecked up by the birds or scorched by the sun.
Sometimes, I just have to say “No.”