Most of us provide personal services to someone, whether a
customer, a superior or a work team. It can be difficult to measure the quality
of the services you provide or receive. It is different than judging the
quality of a hamburger or a car.
For me, I provide advice. This advice can be life or
business altering for my clients. Though it’s intangible, quality matters as
much as that of the tires on your car. And it’s a challenge because every
situation I face is different. It takes effort, constant effort, to continually
provide sound advice.
All of us can personalize the service we provide and strive
to make sure it’s quality service. You need to know and understand your
client’s objectives and goals. Don’t assume. Instead, ask questions.
When I am explaining something to a client, I try to make
sure they understand what I have told them. This includes the pros and cons of
the existing options. It also includes making sure they understand what I can
do to assist them, as well as what isn’t possible. It’s important to be
transparent about what you can do and what you can’t do, i.e. it’s not good to
over promise and under deliver.
When providing personal services, trust is the key. You only
recommend people you trust, and so will your clients. If you deliver great
service in a clear and understandable manner, you will build relationships that
can last a lifetime.
This past weekend I was reading an article and saw a
great quote: “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much
space.” I think this applies to all of us and it doesn’t matter what you do for
a living. I read it as saying to always be looking forward and challenging
yourself. If you rest on your laurels you become stagnant. More importantly, in
our fast moving world not evolving leads to failure.
Moving forward and challenging yourself can take many
forms. For me, I am always open to change and new ideas. At my firm, we all do
business plans each year. I try to include at least one new action item and
otherwise try new things related to my business, which I equate to living on
the edge and not just taking up space because I always am looking for forward
That is how I came to write this blog. It was a new
action item a number of years ago. The feedback was positive and it helped me
make connections, as well as develop some new work. I sure didn’t know it was
going to be a positive experience or that I would continue to do it further out
in the future, but the point is I was open and willing to try.
I also understand that my “living on the edge” and your “living
on the edge” may be significantly different. I am not climbing Mount Everest
(though I always thought it would a cool), and you probably aren’t interested
in what may be my current idea of living on the edge. I always say if we were all
the same the world would be a more boring place. Importantly, we all gain ideas
from what we see and hear about what others are doing. Your living on the edge doesn’t
need to be a unique idea never tried before, but just something new to you that
you think will move the needle in a positive way.
So take this as a challenge to find your version of
living on the edge as you try not to simply take up space.
ps. In looking online, it appears a number of people have
taken credit for the quote “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up
too much space.” My Google sleuthing seems to indicate it usually is attributed
to Stephen Hunt, an author. Of course, it doesn’t matter who said it, but what
it inspires you to do.
I currently have many really interesting matters I am working on. One of the matters had a large deadline a few weeks ago, which was then extended for a week. You can’t work on a large project without it impacting other work you have. The extension was a blessing and a curse because the pleading created was much better thanks to the deadline, but it certainly delayed me from focusing on other matters on my desk.
I know I can call a client to reset expectations and tell them my work on their matter is going to take longer than I initially explained, but I try not to do so unless it really becomes necessary. To me, the matters I am working on for different clients all are important. Even though deadlines can impact what rises to the top of my desk, I try to work in a timely manner based on the initial expectation I have set for a specific client.
For the last month, this has required me to work many nights and weekends to do what I have said I would within the time frames I set. I could have called clients to change that timing, but doing so would have just continued the problem of catching up while other matters with upcoming deadlines keep popping up and requiring attention. This also ignores new matters coming in, some of which require immediate attention.
By working in this way I have managed to meet my clients’ expectations. It hasn’t been easy, but part of it is meeting the expectations I have set for myself regarding how I work with and treat clients. It isn’t meant to be some sort of self-imposed torture forcing myself to work so hard. Instead it’s part of how I want to treat my clients and how I want to protect my reputation for doing what I say I am going to do by the deadlines I have set. By working in this way I am trying to manage and meet the expectations I have set for my clients and the expectations I have set for myself.