There is an old maxim about the cobbler’s children having no shoes.
The point? The cobbler is so busy at work producing and repairing the shoes of his customers that he cannot take any time to make sure that his own children have decent footwear.
Why is this important? If his children had a decent pair of shoes on their feet, he’d be able to model the behavior he wants to see in his customers – namely that good footwear is essential. It would also be an indication that those he is supposed to value the most – his family – are important.
This can often be true in business:
- The IT firm with the cumbersome web site
- The Estate lawyer who doesn’t have an up-to-date will
- The Psychologist who is an emotional mess
- The Contractor whose house is falling apart
- The hairstylist with a scary hair cut
How about the consultant who talks about the importance of planning, facilitates planning sessions, and holds the client’s feet to the fire, and – you guessed it – feels like they are so busy reacting to all of the client’s calls, needs, and emergencies, that they don’t seem to have a plan for the next 6 months, let alone the next year?! Yeah what about her?!
I have resolved to block out the time. I will take an afternoon to figure out the goals that make sense, the best use of my time to accomplish those goals, and I will start to identify the people and resources I need to effectively achieve those goals. I will identify the things that are a low priority – no matter how easy, or attractive, or fun they may be.
In the last month, there have been times (not often but still — ) where I can feel things starting to slide out of my control. I might be reacting more than acting or working late into the night (not my best time to work).
I’m like everyone else who works: if I’m spending all day doing what I do for a living — communicating, listening, engaging, facilitating, having honest conversations, and being energetic, enthusiastic and observant — it’s unlikely that I want to do any of those things when I get home at night.
If your metaphorical feet (and the metaphorical feet of your children) are bare – then you are not using your cobbling skills to your own advantage. It definitely can be challenging to ‘walk the talk’ and model the things you think are important so that your clients and customers can actually see what you value. But it’s a lot easier to sell people when they can see how YOU value what they might buy from you.
And just so you know – my estate lawyer has an up-to-date will, my IT guru has a pretty nifty web site, and my hair stylist has a great haircut!