Remember the old days, when someone admired your work, made the effort to learn about your business, and sat down and negotiated a contract with you? Remember when a customer would wait until you were available? In light of today’s economy and today’s “it’s all about the bottom line” outlook, those memories seem quaint and somewhat distant.
Pendulums are made to swing and although in the past 8 years economy has certainly swung far to one extreme, the laws of nature ultimately bring it back. Here are some things to think about:
1) Don’t take things personally
2) Consider your audience—how do you give them enough to qualify but not so much that they take advantage of you, at your expense
3) It’s OK for you to qualify your customer as they are qualifying you
4) Let them know how much you’ll do for free and when it will start to cost. You can’t do everything for nothing. You can’t give away the store and not get some business back.
5) “Our present circumstances don’t determine where we can go, but merely determine where we start.” Nido Qubein
To bring point #5 to life I have to share a story that I find inspirational. A fellow we know, in his late 60’s, suffered a stroke. It left him paralyzed on the left side and he described it as if a line had been drawn vertically down his body and everything on the right worked and everything on the left didn’t. How could you not feel hopeless? This man has been a ”ground surgeon” for many years and he still has a Caterpillar 225 excavator from the early 70’s that he has owned since new. I remember when he first got it.
He told me that when he was half paralyzed, he used to drag himself out to the back yard to sit in that excavator every day. He would tape his left, now paralyzed, hand to the joy stick and try to think the nerves into moving. After weeks of trying, he one day felt a flicker of movement. He kept at it and started to make some hand movements with his left hand, not useful movements that could make the excavator function, but tiny hand movements just the same. Later he could start to make a circle and then finally he started to move left, right, forward and back. Now that old Caterpillar could finally start to operate. Somehow, very familiar motions, that he had practiced for 40 years running that machine, began to re-establish themselves and he re-learned skills that he hadn’t really ever lost, they were just buried somewhere that he couldn’t easily get to. His recovery took a lot of work and time in the operator’s seat. He told me his wife thought he was crazy dragging himself out there each day. I got hold of a marketing person from Caterpillar and related the story of this new form of “Cat Therapy” and they published it world wide in Caterpillar’s employee newsletter and got incredible feedback from Caterpillar employees who took pride in the story of incredible recovery. A neurologist from Spaulding Rehab explained to me that new neural pathways had been opened up and given the stroke victim back his movement and his life.
Now he looks fine and moves well, but, he had to take a different path to do so. To get through challenging times, we have to look at different approaches. Heroes are those who accomplish what the rest of us were convinced was not possible. Heroes make every day just as good as the good old days.