Growing Without Pushing

The biggest surprise over the last dozen 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 resistance collapsed and you “won.” Negotiate hard until the opposition caved and I “won.” I sure wasted a lot of time doing that.


Not every skirmish needs to be turned into a war that must be won.

An example: I’m a good writer. Experienced, nuanced, clear. After decades 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 force back by piling up my experience and subject knowledge. Nope.

Instead, 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 head toward the door. Notice it’s a statement of fact, not anger or threat. I rarely make it to the door before I’m called back. “Maybe we can arrange something.” Good, let’s talk.

Another example: Occasionally, I’m asked to speak to new coaches on choosing a niche. I’m supposed to explain how I chose my 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 don’t  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 writing. 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.

13 thoughts on “Growing Without Pushing

  1. Pingback: Weekly Retreats - Link Round-Up | Pierced Wonderings

    • That’s not only true, it hasn’t changed much since I started working. I’ve been told “you have to prove yourself first” so often that I can recognize it for what it is–lame.

  2. I love you, girl!! Your self-descriptions (after your name) never fail to amuse. I love your calm way of standing up for yourself. I KNOW you have the talent and ability to get the job done. Sometimes those hiring just need to see that your worth is high enough that you do not need to bargain. Or settle.

  3. It makes my heart smile an feel such great pride for you Quinn. Learning to stand up for yourself an believe in your self worth is a journey I’m still on. I admire you so much!

  4. I find what you say to be true as I reframe and recreate my ‘working’ life. I have been focusing on my likes/strengths and choosing to work and get paid in those areas. The only struggle has been letting go of my idea of ‘what the world thinks I should be doing’.

    • Sometimes “the world” thinks the same way we do. Sometimes not. Sometimes we want to please people who are not thinking of our best interest. As soon as you start listening to what your deep heart wants, you will see it matches what the world needs.

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