The Art of Letting Bad Things Happen
I just got back from a once-in-a-lifetime train ride to Chicago with my 4-year-old son.
It’s something I’ve been working towards for over 5 years.
But in order to be present with my son on the trip – and being present was the primary objective of the whole trip – I had to let bad things happen in my business.
Bad Things Happened
Bad things always happen the minute I leave my desk.
No exception here.
I received a voicemail from an agitated customer almost the minute I left on Thursday.
I only learned about the voicemail, because I forgot to disable email notifications on my voicemail service (d’oh!).
How I Responded to This Agitated Customer
How did I respond to this agitated customer, you ask?
Did I frantically call the person back and try to win her over?
Did I email my team and ask them to get back to her?
I did nothing.
I let a bad thing happen.
Why Let Bad Things Happen?
Because every little action I take to address the agitated customer in that scenario opens up new interruptions.
Let’s say I send an email message to my team asking them to get in touch with the customer.
Possible replies I will receive from my team in response include:
- Who is that?
- What level of service are we providing her?
- What is the context?
- What do you know that we don’t know?
- Do you have her login credentials?
- What’s her phone number and email?
- etc. etc. etc.
And each one of those follow-up questions from my team could lead to more follow-up questions.
So I chose to do nothing and got back to being present with my family.
But You’ll Lose Customers & Money!
Sure, I might lose this agitated customer.
And that means lost revenue.
- But once you reach the point where basic business needs are taken care of, you are simply trading your time and attention for money.
- I want to work with calm companies, anyways.
Was it worth being distracted during this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and miss out on my son’s very real joy at hiding underneath the Amtrak tray table?
What if I had been replying to emails rather than having my son and his 4-year-old cousin lift my 200-pound body to the surface of the lake we were swimming in?
What if I had missed the opportunity to see my son’s face on his first motor boat ride ever on Saturday? (actual video footage below!)
What if I had missed his disappointment at the cake being served so damn late at my cousin’s graduation party? How would he have felt if his disappointment went unnoticed?
I wanted all of me to be there with my son during our once-in-a-lifetime vacation together.
Ya gotta let bad things happen.
I knew it was time to make a change in my life when, on a Saturday afternoon at the movies with my kids, I couldn’t enjoy myself because I was worried about work. I would be back at my desk in 2-3 hours, and yet, I was beating myself up because I wasn’t at my desk right that minute.
Clients will come and go. A good client will understand boundaries and family time. One that doesn’t, well, they aren’t a good client. Choose wisely, friend.
Thanks for sharing this story, John! Hopefully its telling helps others avoid our mistakes!
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