We were on the boat, we laughed, we were totally relaxed, happy, and content. We had met with a few friends on this trip; our friendship tanks were topped up.
Now it was time to go home. I looked over the water and felt freedom and joy: the weather was fairytale-like; we saw blue sky and not a single cloud, and the lake looked like a mirror; we were gliding along purposefully, like a proud swan.
Then, we were catapulted into frantic action;
a loud grinding, crunching noise came from one engine. I felt sick in my stomach, and my heart stopped for what seemed to be forever … both of us knew at that moment that the boat was very, very sick.
What had happened? Which engine was making the horrible noise? Had we hit something in the water? We had questions over questions.
This event reflects the health of a client relationship that seemed to be great on the surface.
When I started working with Caroline, all seemed to be great, and as it should. Yet, after just a few months she ended the relationship.
What had happened? What had gone wrong? Should I have foreseen this? I had questions over questions.
I felt hurt and was upset. Then, I had to admit to myself that our communication had not been as solid as I had thought. What had I missed? Had I been insensitive, or had I not asked enough questions? Had the quality of my work been lacking? But then, she would have told me that. She had never said a word that she was thinking of ending the relationship.
I dismissed my hurt ego. Open and honest communication is the foundation of all of my client relationships, a “must” for it to flourish. This is how we both, client and I, nurture and fertilize the connection, the trust, like we nurture and fertilize a small plant with its fragile stem and soft leaves that grows into a beautiful bush. That had not happened here, and I had not really seen it.
There had been some evasiveness, unresponsiveness that I had ignored as both of us were preparing to go away. Whatever the reason was, steering the ship of my working relationships is a delicate thing; it needs to be done carefully, and sensitively by adjusting the compass by one degree here or one degree there; it is done by anticipating, by being compassionate and guiding ever so lightly.
We continued our boating trip on one engine. Steering was much more difficult and docking required my husband’s best skills. But, we made it home without further incidents; we still enjoyed a wonderful time, and didn’t let our last few days get spoiled by the broken engine. At our last night, we were docked at a beautiful Yacht Club; right across sat a very inviting-looking restaurant. Spontaneously we decided to have dinner there, and enjoyed a table from which we could see our boat; looking at her, her solidity, my chest swelled with pride. Yes, she is hurt now as she has lost an important part, but she is beautiful; she is a safe companion and will be as good as new, if not better, in no time.
The ship that is my business had also lost an important part; yet it floated, sturdy, dependable, and gained speed, solidly; looking forward to adding a new, exciting partnership; and enjoying, and nurturing, the present, wonderful, empowering client relationships.
When something unexpected happens in your business, how do you navigate the storm? How do you deal with them, and what experience and insights have you gained through them?