I had a difficult phone call with a client a few weeks ago. The conversation was about payment on a project that had gone south and ultimately stalled. It happened at a coffeeshop and Daniella was sitting right next to me, listening as closely as she could the entire time.
When I hung up Daniella told me how proud of me she was. She praised my patience, my ability to listen, and my willingness to accept criticism.
“The client made some good points,” I told her, “and I understand where he was coming from.”
The result of that conversation was a relationship restored and a clean slate for the client and I moving forward. I didn’t plan for things to end up exactly like that, but I’m glad that they did.
Patience, understanding, and the ability to admit my own shortcomings have always come naturally to me. I’ve used those strengths to successfully run my business for over 10 years.
I’ve dealt with plenty of client criticism in that time, but it almost always centered around the work that I’m producing. Never before has someone come in and criticized the actual way I run my business.
Daniella has levied many well-deserved criticisms upon the way I run my our business so far this year. It’s been pretty humbling, to say the least.
As I write this she is researching project management solutions for us.
Why, you might ask?
Well, because… um… you see… there wasn’t one before. I mean, there was, for sure. But it was in my head. It was in a couple of Google Sheets. And it was scribbled on a few pages of my personal notebook.
To Daniella’s credit, she worked with my existing “system” for the first four months of business together, and even improved it. But our experience at WordCamp Orange County this past weekend helped propel this shortcoming in my our business to the forefront and she let me know it.
This isn’t the first time Daniella has criticized this particular issue, and just like I do with my clients, I’ve always tried my best to listen.
But there’s a difference between listening and putting things into action.
My response to her critique had always been, “I’ll look into a better solution for us,” or “Let’s schedule a time when we can talk about how to get organized.”
Yeah, I know. Both of those statements are total B.S. on so many levels.
There hasn’t been any real action on this issue not because I suck at organization (though kinda I do), but because…
It’s hard to let go
Putting your trust in someone else to alter the course of the business you’ve managed for 10 years (even when it’s your wife) is hard.
Realizing that other people are better than you at some stuff is hard.
Giving up control is hard.
Embracing change that someone else designed for you is hard
I’ve been aware of the weaknesses in my business for many years. It’s one of the primary reasons why I wanted Daniella to work with me. She brings a different and complimentary set of strengths that I’ll never have (including, among many others, the organization, scheduling, and project management assets that our business desperately needs).
I knew she would bring positive change to our business. The part I didn’t think would be so hard is actually letting go.
For months I felt like I needed to be the one bringing the new project management solutions to the table. After all, it was my business first and I know it best, right? I would find some new piece of software, get it all set up, and then get Daniella trained in it, because I know what’s best for our business.
No more Complete Control
Today I’m turning over a new leaf.
Daniella has spent four months learning this business. By now she knows better than I do how to get it organized, so I’m stepping back and letting her do what she’s best at.
I’m just glad it didn’t take me a year to figure out.