I’m not going anywhere.
How we create and deal with the inevitable rollercoaster of situations will ultimately decide our successes, failures and happiness; there are a million ways to experience and carry out relationships and there are a million relationships that come and go in life and business.
There are a few instruments to help us navigate this unpredictable ocean of possibility. Relationships and opportunities have a symbiotic relationship, so it’s good to take care of each with delicate hands.
Once, I took on a project for a client knowing that it was going to be difficult—I didn’t quite have the resources or motivation to get it done on time. My only motivation was the financial compensation and the intrigue that this was an important person.
As with anything, it started in honeymoon mode with great energy, progress on the deliverables and a seemingly good relationship.
Fast forward a couple of months—it’s overdue, incomplete and I’m barely thinking about it because I’ve moved onto my next fascination. The warning signs were there early on—my gut feeling was money—that’s the worst thing to be motivated by when you want to build a business based on values and quality, which is what I later learned I wanted.
While I did deliver many iterations of the product and attempted to complete the revisions, it never reached it’s final state. The customer was never happy and I didn’t go far enough to make them happy. Many months went by without communication and it was forgotten.
Well, on a long enough timeline, it will surface and the world will get even with you. The former client emailed me and asked for a formal refund. After revisiting the situation internally and evaluated it with my newly instilled values, I issued a check for a full refund and laughed “Damn, funny the way it is sometimes.”
I felt good about learning my lesson.
Once you’ve realized that you aren’t going anywhere, comfortable building a lot of relationships and opportunities for yourself, it’s time to apply some tools to make this a better process.
Just don’t forget that these work best when you have become comfortable with the fact that it may take a long time to understand your definition of success and what it will take to get there.
Life is long, settle in and use these tools to make it a less bumpy ride.
To start, be conscious of a long enough timeline; I call this the “I’m not going anywhere” concept. Think about a situation that really affected your emotions, your bank account or your business in a significant way. The best measure is one that seemed drastic at the time, something that consumed you with worry and stress.
I’m sure you can remember many of them because of the lasting impression they left, or how you’ve changed since.
Remember how incredibly stressful it was to deal with that person and it was the only thing you could possibly focus on? Fast forward a few months (I hope that’s long enough) and then see how you feel; for most, hindsight is 20/20.
You feel better; you feel like you’ve grown. You feel like you’ve learned a lesson—you feel stronger, more mature and you can’t believe it was that big of a deal.
Look in the rearview mirror; if it’s still in sight, you know you’ve moved passed it. If it’s gone, odds are you feel like you’ve grown from it and are now wiser in your age. Fast forward until today. You’re still here, congratulations!
You’re not going anywhere.
1) Spend enough time exploring opportunities to know what you want, and what you don’t.
Before you can accurately know what you’re looking for in terms of success, business, or closing a deal, you must know which ones you don’t want. This comes directly from experience. You have to experience it before you can say it is or isn’t a good opportunity.
You can’t make assumptions or draw general conclusions about what it might be like to obtain a certain opportunity. It’s unbelievable how many people say “I’m going to college to become an accountant,” but haven’t spent fifteen minutes in a firm’s office. Talk to people who have put in the work to become what you want to be. Ask them questions, buy them lunch and don’t be shy.
Take a day to physically try or experience something that you think you want before going through the rounds of accomplishing it. Yes, you can cheat life.
2) Understand and stand by your values.
If you don’t have any values, go back to step one. That’s where you’ll find them. Life and professional coaches can be a great guide to discovering values within yourself and how you illustrate them. Be true to yourself and what you want. The biggest paycheck is going to be your satisfaction and happiness.
The cash paycheck will come if you can align with your values first.
A few examples of mine are a realistic amount of time and creativity freedom, respect of my voice and expertise and transparency. This will help gauge when you’re forcing an opportunity through and when one is happening naturally.
3) Know that it’s okay to pass on an opportunity or relationship.
Many people get caught up on everything that comes across the table. My belief is that anyone is worth five minutes of your time, so take the meeting—sometimes those five minutes will change your life forever.
However, when that isn’t happening, start to ask questions. Is this something I should do? Is this person’s intentions good?
If you seem to be hitting more roadblocks than checkpoints after attempting to travel this path, you should begin to question and potentially let go of the opportunity.
It may be a million bucks, but there’s another million bucks that’s a little more enjoyable to obtain. I’ve tried the everything approach and it doesn’t work. If you’ve stayed true to your values and are in alignment with your personal goals and growth, you’ll be able to feel it, and over time learn to trust your gut feeling.
4) Negotiate fiercely and relentlessly and don’t do anything you don’t want to do.
Once you start exploring an opportunity, make sure the terms are favorable and satisfy your values. Don’t forget, you don’t have to be doing this. Whether this is your voice, compensation, expected efforts, equity or role, make sure it’s fair to you.
I was recently involved in a situation where my services accompanied with a small amount of capital was being compared to larger amounts of pure capital. After fiercely speaking of my organizational value, I followed with, “I’d be happy to quantify my contributions financially if it becomes necessary. The last thing I believe is my inkind efforts and cash investment are not substantial enough to deserve a fair ROI.”
Remember, you can always say no; other opportunities will come knocking.
5) Open communication and honesty.
Even if you’ve done something bad, it’s always best to be completely honest about it. In most cases, people will appreciate and come to trust you more if you can admit your faults and face the repercussions. This also works well to create a sustainable relationship.
It’s not exciting if you aren’t challenging others involved in your relationship and they aren’t challenging you. There should be debate and dispute. Just make sure that it reaches a resolution for a positive outcome.
This doesn’t work well if something huge surfaces once in a blue moon and those involved fight it out. If you feel something five minutes later, it’s okay if you go through another big round of debate. It will be worth it.
Use honesty all the time, no matter how hard it may seem.
6) Be accountable and check in with your goals.
Once you have the ball rolling it’s important to have mile markers along the way. While you should have constant consensus from your open communication and honesty, sometimes the bigger picture can get lost. Be the responsible one and ask if you’ve reached the goals you expected, or if others still have sight of them and their progress.
Again, if you’re hitting more roadblocks than checkpoints, something may not be right. This doesn’t mean it’s quitting time, but that it is a good time to re-evaluate and have a meeting of the minds.
Good signs are happiness, frictionless travel, cashflow positive revenue and constant renewed energy.
7) Be able and ready to let go.
There’s nothing worse than not being able to realize when something has had it’s life, reached it’s capacity, gone lump. You must realize that it is completely acceptable to lose interest in an endeavor for any number of reasons. So long as you have used these tools and maintained a good relationship, your peers will understand that you no longer have a place and want to move on.
Do so on good terms. If you don’t, you are limiting your growth and won’t be open to accepting whatever the world brings to you next. Remember, you’re not going anywhere and new opportunities will come.
That’s it! If you utilize number one and number seven as the larger filters with two, three, four, five and six as fine tuners, you’ll actually narrow your opportunities and relationships down into a manageable and enjoyable set of options.
Hopefully, you’ll never have the whole thing solved, but at least you will be well on your way to establishing something awesome for yourself. Over time, this will develop a pattern and consistency that leads to similar outcomes. You execute a great relationship from start to finish, whether it be one week or one decade, and that one will introduce you to a new one with two thumbs up and a standing ovation. That is the wave you want to ride.
Always listen to the inner voice that helps guide you in your relationships. You may not know the first time around, but eventually you’ll know what it feels like when something is right. Once you get the hang of it, it will only get easier to sort out “what to do.”
No matter what the world has thrown at you, when you look in the rearview mirror, that hindsight will be 20/20 and you’ll be feeling good.
Tim “Jack Reynolds” Williams has lived a life full of risk taking and entrepreneurship. His unemployable nature and unquenchable desire to create has lead him to found a number of successful companies in the design, technology, and entrepreneurial worlds. He is currently Co-Founder of House of Genius and facilitates it’s now international growth and is Proprietor of Baumhaur Group, a multi-disciplined design group with award winning talent. He also contributes to other entrepreneurial projects, creates brands, and advises start-ups. That said, he isn’t all business. Tim has passions for creating music, exploration, writing, and has been known to throw down an incredible freestyle rap. A constant student of life, his path is always changing and open to new experiences. You can find more (or technically less) on Twitter.
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Assistant Ed: Olga Feingold/Ed: Bryonie Wise