We're on a (Rail)Road to Nowhere
How many times have you said, “I just need to get back on track?” Normally we say this when we aren’t being productive, have let our health or workouts slip or just can’t seem to get things done. But here’s the thing: back on track doesn’t exist. We’re always on a track. Sometimes we’re stuck at the station, sometimes we transfer the wrong way, sometimes we move along smoothly and sometimes we’re full speed ahead. Sure there’s the rare derailment, but truly when we say back on track, we most likely mean stuck or idling.
Idling Isn't a Bad Thing
The reason this distinction is so important is because as long as we’re still on the track, we can eventually move forward and create progress. And being stuck, or stopping at the station isn’t always a bad thing. We might need to refuel, which is vital for getting to the next station. Or maybe we just need to sit and do some repairs. When you think about it in these terms it allows you to be more forgiving of yourself and remove the feeling that you should be in a place you’re not.
Especially in these turbulent times, understanding that sitting at the station is not only perhaps all we can muster, it’s vital for our sanity and health. If we try and push through, it could have dire consequences and lead to us breaking down in the middle of the track far from any station or support.
People Don't Run on a Timetable
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a printed timetable that dictates where I need to be every hour on the hour. Of course, I have meetings and deadlines, but many of those are self-imposed, so they can be moved if needed. It’s not like dozens of people are waiting at the station for me to come through. If I need to slam on the brakes, it’s usually not an issue. We’re typically the ones who create these timetables that we cling to. We say, “oh I need to accomplish this by this date”, but really most of the time that’s us putting pressure on ourselves, not our clients.
Where's Thomas When You Need Him?
So if you need to take a day, or a few days, or your head is foggy and you can’t think straight, it’s ok to step away and do that. Your train isn’t going anywhere and your destination is still on the track. Trying to putter along will only lead to more wear and tear and possibly a breakdown. Chances are, taking that much-needed pit stop might even get you to your destination quicker because you’re coming back to it fueled up, repaired and ready to go!
Hitting a Speed Bump
One of the ways it can be easier to do this is by having solid relationships with your clients based on trust and past experience. Last week I got very sick (ok, I might have been hungover due to being epically sleep deprived from working the polls and being awake 20+ hours, and oxygen deprived from wearing a mask for 17 of those hours, and brain cell deprived from mixing drinks on election night and not factoring all this in. But I digress.) So let’s just say that I was in no shape to do anything and needed to cancel all my appointments, postpone my workshop and stay in bed. Yep, I’m an idiot. And take it from a control freak, this was no picnic. Lesson learned.
Train Traffic Ahead
I sent off all the emails to move things and let my clients know I just couldn’t meet or work...and you know what happened? Nothing. They all told me to feel better and got on with their day. The world didn’t end. Nothing got derailed, and the next day I got back at it. Because my clients knew this wasn’t typical and because I’ve set an expectation of quality work and delivering when I say I will, none of them worried. They were more worried about my health. Which is how it should be. Although now when they find out I was hungover, that could change! But it won’t. Because I’ve made it clear what it’s like to work with me. And that brand clarity and consistency outweighs one instance of being stalled in the station. At the end of the day, we’re all human. This can’t be stated enough in business. Being true to yourself and dropping the pretense can make all the difference when it comes to lasting relationships or losing more than just the previous night’s beverages.
Want to know how you can strengthen your client relationships by being more you? Let’s grab drinks! (kidding)