The biggest surprise over the last eight years of owning my business is—just like real life—you can’t force things to happen. For most of my adult, corporate life, I thought that’s how you got things done. Pushed against resistance till the risistance gave up and you “won.” Negotiate is a tough way until the opposition caved and I “won.” I sure wasted a lot of time doing that.
An example: I’m a good writer. Experienced, nuanced, clear. After 30 years of writing, I should be. I deserve to be paid for that ability and expertise. When a client says, “We’re not paying you what you asked for, we’re paying you half. We pay our other writers less, you shouldn’t be asking for that much,” I no longer attack back by piling up my experience and subject knowledge. Nope. I nod, and say, “I understand your budget can’t stretch to cover my fee. I wish you every success on the job with another, less expensive writer. Thank you for considering me,” and leave. Notice it’s a statement of fact, not anger. I rarely make it to the door before I’m called back. “Maybe we can arrange something.” Good, let’s talk.
Another example: In a few weeks, I’m speaking to a group of coaches on choosing a niche. I’m supposed to explain how I choose this niche, and how others can choose theirs. There is no secret. I didn’t sit down and think over what niche I would develop. It worked the other way around. I looked at the people around me, the ones naturally present already, and built by offering what they needed from what I could do.
It’s an easier life if you not have to put your shoulders down and bull your way through. It’s far more rewarding to work with your natural gifts, with people who are already around you. By heightening talents you have in situations that present themselves, there is less damage to your spirit and more building of your strengths. Less grinding, more polishing. Less spinning, more weaving. It’s a good life.
–Quinn McDonald is a writer who teaches communication. She’s also a life– and creativity coach who helps people when they are stuck. She can’t help everyone, and doesn’t fight it.