A Painfully Good Lesson In Business
I wanted to write this out for a few reasons but mainly because I believe in sharing the lessons I’ve learned with other people to keep them from making the same mistakes I have made.
If there is one thing that we should all know by now, it is that we are all depraved (imperfect). In all of us, there is the ability to wrong other people and ourselves. Understanding this is imperative to surviving life and remaining humble when making unwise/bad decisions or wronged by other people. We all mess up. We all fall from the pedestal we put ourselves on and we all experience broken fellowship at points in our lives. What defines us in these moments though, is how we respond.
This is no different in business. All of the written contracts, organization, honesty or communication in the world cannot keep you safe from it. You will fail people, and people will fail you.
Discerning and Learning
If there is one thing that I wish I had more of, it would be the ability to say no when my gut tells me that I should. My problem, like many others, is that I care too much what people think of me. Some of you who know me well understand this about me. Some of you who have been on the other side of a debate with me, may not believe this (ha!), but it is very true. Call it idolatry, insecurity, neediness, whatever you will. It’s the problem at the very center of most of my lessons in life and one I can’t seem to master very easily.
Just recently, I had a client that was unwilling to pay for the work I was doing for him on the side. I had all but finished the websites he contracted me out for and had not had a complaint about my work once through the project.
From the beginning of the projects I did for him, I had felt uneasy about working with him. He was disorganized, needy and impulsive. He was very irrational when it came to understanding that my time was valuable, especially during normal business hours when I was at work. He would call me relentlessly, email my 15 times a day, push for deadlines that were unattainable by any human being and change the designs on a whim as if he was never really sure of what his clients wanted.
Everything in me said to get away from this guy after the first project, but I didn’t listen. I do not believe that I lacked discernment though. I believe I lacked the will to say no and risk disapproval.
Good Friends Let You Know When You Are Making Bad Decisions, but Pick You Up When You Fall.
One thing I should mention is that one of the jobs this client sent me, I gave to the company I work for so when he decided he wouldn’t pay, they were also effected by it.
In almost every meeting at work, my boss has stressed the importance of choosing the right client. He said something to this effect. “We want to do business for the right people. We need to discern the people we work for because in the end, the wrong client isn’t worth the quality work that we do. They will never be satisfied, they will always take from us and abuse our kindness.”
I think I was the first to say “hell yeah!” I agreed because I knew this was absolutely true and imperative to the success of any business. But agreeing with him, and doing it myself were two different things.
When everything went down, I immediately feared what this would do to my boss’ business(actually there are four owners – but I’m speaking of one of them in particular here). Making stupid decisions in my own business and life is one thing, but making those bad decisions when they effect people that truly care about you is another. So, I stressed over this over the Christmas holiday.
His words to me over the holiday were both wise and kind though. He stressed that 1) I needed to discern my clients better (in a round about way), 2) that I don’t need people like this but that I needed to know these people will always show up in business and 3) I belong to the family now, I am one of them and that he cares.Belonging to a group of people that call you their own is a huge blessing and imperative to living a good life.
What I Learned
Through all of this, I learned a few things that I feel are imperative to both life and business.
1) I learned (even more) where my own weaknesses and failures lie. I learned that I often worship the god of acceptance and risk not only my own wellbeing, but that of others around me when I ignore what discernment and wisdom tell me.
2) There are people you must say no to in life as well as people you must surround yourself with who actually care about you and will pick you up when you fail. If you can discern this one thing more wisely, your life and business will benefit greatly from it.
3) **This is the most important thing!** – No matter what, in business and in life, you WILL get screwed over. Even the greatest wisdom in the world cannot protect you from sin and wrong doing. But, what defines you is not “how people treat you” or your failures. What defines you, is how you respond when they happen. Do you lash out? Do you sink into depression? Do you stay off of the horse to avoid it happening again? Do you lose control? If you do any of these things, your thinking is wrong. Being wronged, making bad decisions or failing is not only part of life, it is part of growth. Who has ever been a better person for not failing? Who has ever been humble before falling? Who has ever learned discernment without the antithesis? None of us.
When we fail or when others fail us, we thank God for the lesson and use it as a tool to better our lives and establish the peace we long for. We cannot control the peace of others around us, but we are absolutely responsible for the peace within us. It’s that inner peace that you and I establish that not only makes our lives better and more fruitful, but directly effects and begins to bring peace to those around us.
Think Better… Live Better.