It’s Not Me, It’s You

Why You Absolutely Must Send Your Bad Clients Packing

In a perfect world you’d work with perfect clients to create perfect results and everybody’s happy.

Too bad we live in the real world.

In the real world, not everybody’s going to be a good fit for each other. Sometimes expectations are out of alignment with the reality of what you can do for your clients, or what your clients are expecting in contrast to what they’re willing to give for it.

I’ve worked with clients who turn out to be overly demanding. It’s a strategy that has gotten them what they want in the past, but what they’re really doing is expecting more for what they’ve agreed to give.

There’s a word for that. . . stealing!

You wind up giving up your nights & weekends to meet unrealistic expectations. Who winds up suffering for it? Not the client! You’ve given them your time & sanity to go above and beyond the contract, and they’re still not happy with the work. They’ve stolen your happiness. You’ve allowed them to take away time with your friends, your family, your partner, and your own self respect.

I once worked on a website I was building for a client on Valentine’s Day because I thought it would be done that night and I would get paid. Turns out it wasn’t “finished” for another 4 months. (More on this later in this article.)

Here are a couple things to think about in your business, and the people you work with.

1: Some People Are Simply Overly Demanding
They’ve gotten used abusing the “customer is always right” approach to business, so they nitpick & create problems where there aren’t any as a way to justify unreasonable demands. You can never please them. It’s never enough, and it’s not about you.

2: Some Clients Are Black Holes
It sounds awful, but it’s true. Their approach of demanding more than has been agreed upon has worked for them in the past, so why won’t it work now? They are hell-bent on taking as much as they can for as little as they can give.  You could devote 200% of your time to them alone, and it’ll still not be enough. (You’ve done it, in fact, and how well did that go for you?)

3: Awful Clients Keep You From The Real Work
Every minute you stay in a business relationship that doesn’t serve you is two minutes you’re not spending with the right client. There are clients who would be an exact fit for your expertise. They will listen to what you have to say, they will put in the work, and they will respect your guidance. Every ill-fitting client you keep is an opportunity distraction that’s costing you the possibility of working with your hero clients.

So why don’t you move on?

It boils down to fear.

You’re afraid to lose the client
Maybe this is the only client you have. Or maybe they’re the biggest fish on your line, and you need the money. No matter what shape that takes, it’s because you’re afraid you won’t be able to find a better fit.

You’re bad at establishing healthy boundaries
In the case of working on the website over Valentine’s Day, I have to take 100% responsibility for my lack of establishing clear boundaries. I hadn’t taken the time to communicate the scope of the work. I didn’t give the clear outline of 3 revisions before paying for each change from that point forward. You can’t just expect someone to know those things; you have to teach people how to be a good client.

You think they’ll change
“Once they see how good the work is, they’ll suddenly value all the nights and weekends I’ve spent!” Wrong. They don’t know how much time you’ve spent. You can tell them, but you’re the one who lived through it; they can’t fully understand what you’ve given. Besides; they’re not paying for your time. They’re paying for the results.

Takeaway

Not everybody is meant to work together. Whether it’s because you lack the skills to create & maintain healthy boundaries like I did, or they’re simply an unreasonable black hole of “never good enough” there are some people you simply shouldn’t work with.

Do yourself, your friends, your partner, and your clients a huge favor; send the bad relationships packing so you have time for the perfect fit!

Need help learning how to create, maintain, and repair healthy boundaries? Let’s work together!

4 Adventure Buddy Questions

I’ve traveled the world, been on incredible adventures, and lived a lot of life in my years.

Most of them were spent alone.

Traveling by yourself is especially difficult. Imagine you’re in an airport and you need to go to the restroom. When you’re alone, you have to drag all your bags & crap with you in there (and those stalls are not what you’d call “spacious“).

If you’re traveling with a buddy, however, you can each take turns watching the stuff while you both go to the restroom, grab lunch, or do whatever needs doing.

Pick the right partner, and adventures become much easier (and more fun by extension). No wonder Einstein said relationships are the most powerful force in the universe.

Whether you’re talking about your personal life, or your business life, it stays the same: picking the right partner is one of the most important decisions you can ever make.

Easier Said Than Done

How do you know you’ve picked the right one? How do you know the problems you’ll invariably have are healthy issues, and not huge red flags that you can’t ignore?

No matter how healthy your relationship, the road will get bumpy. Problems creep up, and cracks start to form in the perfect veneer. Maybe things get really bad.

It can be tough to know whether you should stick it out, or cut your losses while you can. Confusion sets in, and making a good decision gets more and more difficult the longer you stay frozen in indecision.

In a healthy relationship, challenges help you grow as a person. They foster communication skills. You’re forced to face your own shortcomings & work on improving yourself in ways you’d never need to if you were by yourself.

In an unhealthy relationship, you spend so much time on fighting, avoiding conflict, pulling the weight of two people, and much of your energy on being anxious about what fresh hell you’re going to run into tomorrow.

The very real impact of both of these dynamics ripples out into every single area of your life. (I don’t care how good you think you are at compartmentalizing. All areas are affected.)

To help you cut through the weeds of mental doubt, use the following 4 questions. If you answer “yes” to them, you’re heading the right direction. If you answer “no” it might be time to start looking at exit strategies. . .

The 4 Essential Adventure Buddy Questions

1. Do You Both Have the Same Fundamental Principles?

I don’t care how much you love each other. I don’t care how much you respect each other. If you do not share the same core beliefs about the world, yourself, the nature of relationships, or what you want out of your time on this planet, things are not going to go smoothly.

I used to be married to an incredible woman. She’s one of the smartest, kindest, most wonderful people I’ve ever known; it’s no wonder I fell in love with her. We got along great, and we were madly in love, so we decided to get married.

One hiccup: we didn’t have the same fundamental beliefs. Our core structures were not in alignment, and over time those cracks widened into a canyon that became impossible to cross. Cue major issues.

I put this question first because it is absolutely the most important question. If you disagree on this single issue, you’re doomed from the start, no matter how much you want it to be otherwise. So make sure you can answer this one “yes” without hesitation before even worrying about the others.

2. Are You Each Pulling Your Weight?

I get it. People get tired. You might fall down, and need some help getting back on your feet. But, on a broad scale, are you both pulling your own weight? You don’t have to both do 50% of every activity. Maybe you do 100% of one thing, and they do 100% of another. Strengths and weaknesses can complement each other in a healthy relationship.

What is important, however, is that you’re both committed to the success of the relationship. You’re both willing to put in the hard work required for even the easiest relationships. The instant you go on auto-pilot is when your relationship starts dying.

So each person should contribute according to their ability, and put in effort to sustain the relationship.

If you’re the only one putting in effort, you’re putting in twice as much energy for half as many results. Not good.

3. Do You Feel Challenged to Be At Your Best?

People say they want to be with someone where they can “just be me,” but you know what? You’re a procrastinator. You don’t remember birthdays. You can eat 3 boxes of Girl Scout cookies in one sitting (and often do).

In short, you’re basically an awful person.

Turns out, being that version of ourselves is not what makes us happy.

What does make us happy, is being with someone who challenges us to be our ideal selves.

This is akin to “Be the person your dog thinks you are.” But instead of “dog,” substitute “partner.”

Living up to that ideal will encourage you to go after those big projects. You’ll put more effort into making things happen for yourself.

As a consequence, you’ll wind up winning more often, which will give you something to talk about other than this week’s Netflix binge session.

Plus, you’ll get better at celebrating other people’s success, too, which is a huge marker of emotional maturity & relationship strength.

Win-Win-Win

4. Does Spending Time With This Person Make You Feel Safe?

Are they more like a harbor (calm)? Or are they a whirlpool(drama llama)? Do they help you feel calm when you’re stressed out? Or does the thought of being in the same room have you looking for an exit?

This can happen in all sorts of relationships.

Some clients are a dream to work with. They value your expertise, they trust your decisions, and encourage you to innovate.

Some clients are a nightmare to work with. They constantly change direction, tell you “some person you’ve never heard of said they don’t like that color, so I’m going to change the whole website design,” and try to get discounts.

Same goes for business partners. Same goes for romantic partners. Same goes for movie date partners.

Same goes for everyone.

Each relationship has the potential to be a net calming effect in your life, or a net stressor in your life.

If they’re an energy vampire, time to invest in some relationship garlic. #ForcedMetaphor

Relationship Audit

So how do the relationships in your life stack up? How many people can you honestly say are whole-hearted YESES on all counts?

I’ve worked very hard to make sure that I live my life in a way where I only spend time with people who are like that. Everyone in my life is a 10/10 on the awesome scale for each one of these four questions.

If they aren’t, I never see them again.

It takes a lot of courage, time, & energy to live like this, but the alternative is slow suicide.

Need help figuring out how to build your life like that? Let’s talk.

Life’s Most Powerful Force

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Einstein spent most of his life unlocking the secrets of the universe, and trying to understand the forces that shape our reality.

What did he think was the strongest? Electromagnetic forces? Gravity? Quantum entanglement?

I had a dream last night where I got to ask him.

Imaginary Einstein and I were sitting at a diner, and here’s what he said:

The most powerful force in our life is the nature of our relationships. ~Einstein of my dreams

Imaginary Einstein is right; relationships define the very quality of our entire lives.

Not just romance

When most people hear the word “relationship,” they only think about the romantic kind. While it’s true that who you choose to spend your life with is one of the most important career choices you’ll ever make, we’re not just talking about that.

Self

How’s your relationship with your self? Do you constantly criticise yourself? Do you over analyze opportunity to the point you’re paralyzed? If someone else talked to you like you talk to yourself, would you choose to spend time with them? How’s your physical health? Do you exercise? Do you feel like you’re a mind driving a big old meat puppet that’s poorly equipped to do even the most basic tasks?

Problems

Do you see problems as obstacles constantly preventing you from happiness? Are you seeing the same issues over & over? Does it feel like no matter what you do, you wind up in exactly the same place year after year? Are your biggest problems with ideas, people, or things?

Business

Are you constantly looking for new clients because the old ones stop coming back? Do you wonder where the next sale is coming from? Do you believe in what you’re selling? Does work consume every waking hour? Do emails & texts interfere with your ability to be present with life outside the office?

Personal

Do the people in your life (family, friends, coworkers) make you laugh? Do you find yourself trying to avoid them? Are they constantly criticising you? Do they try to tear down your accomplishments?

Is this you?

If you’re nodding your head along with every single one of those questions, you’re acknowledging the power of relationships to shape your life.

You are a part of this universe. You do not exist in a vacuum. From the instant you’re born, your reality is shaped by your relationship with/to it.

Improving the quality of your relationships (with yourself, your friends, your family, & your business) is the single most important project you’ll ever work on.

Where do you start?

There’s no shortage of gurus who will tell you what to do. Maybe they’ll tell you to start meditating. Maybe they’ll tell you to start a gratitude journal.

But none of that really tells you what’s at the heart of improving your relationships.

There’s as single skill you can work on that will improve your life across the board.

What is it?

Answer: Communication skills.

Relationships define your life, and the quality of your communication skills dictate the quality of relationships. Improve your communication skills, and it pays off everywhere.

With better communication skills you’ll be a better friend, partner, leader, salesperson, and on down the line it goes.

So if you’re looking to improve your life, don’t chase the latest “hack” or “trick.” Focus, instead, on being able to clearly express yourself, and understand others.

Knowing how to do that is the only secret worth knowing.

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But I’m a nice guy

Nice guys finish last.

One of the most common things I hear when guys come to me for relationship coaching is, “I’m a nice guy, why don’t women want to date me?”

This is usually when I ask them how honest they actually want me to be, and how serious they are about using what I’m about to tell them.

Maybe ask yourself those questions before reading further.

The short answer to their question is, they’re full of shit.

We all learned how to be nice to each other in kindergarten. Or, did you miss that class? If you haven’t added any other positive traits since you were 5 years old, how in the world can you be mystified that nobody wants to date you?

What’s really going on

Most times, when a guy feels resentful that a girl hasn’t dated him (even though he’s nice) it’s the result of his failure to manipulate the object of his affections.

I use ‘object’ on purpose; most nice guys™ see women as vending machines that dole out sexual favors in exchange for nice dollars™.

“I picked her up from the airport, I watched her cat, and she still hasn’t even kissed me! She’s just leading me on!”

So what do you do?

When it comes to dating, there’s a lot of complex social and biological elements at play. Your best bet is to work on being awesome by yourself, and that will make you much more attractive to your prospective partners.

Take a welding class, learn to cook, go on an adventure, work out, build a business, etc.

Do something awesome!

These hobbies & interests will help you be more interesting than only bringing “nice” to the table.

Communicate Easier

People think if they had the power to read minds it would lead to easier communication.

The surprising thing is, there would be very little improvement from what you have already.

The assumption is you’d get a more accurate “truth” because you’d know exactly how people feel instead of what they tell you.

Over the years of my experience, however, I’ve found most people say exactly what they mean.

The words they speak, and the words I hear in their head are remarkably similar.

The only time that’s not the situation is when there’s coercion: either someone trying to lie to me, or I’m trying to lie to them.

Think about the times you’d lie to someone.

You might lie to keep a surprise birthday party, well, a surprise. You might lie to get something you want. You might lie to preserve your safety.

Everybody else is the same. Very few people are telling you premeditated lies non-stop.

The most common reason people have for lying is controlling an outcome: whether it’s preserving their safety, getting something they want (but haven’t earned), or preserve the illusion of trust when it’s been violated.

There’s a way to make sure people don’t lie to you though. Give everything away. Show them you can be trusted with the truth.

Choose to believe people when they tell you how they feel. Make them feel safe sharing thoughts, feelings, and ideas with you. Don’t criticizing them when they open up.

If you choose to believe people at face value, you might be surprised how honest people become.

So if you want the magical power of mind reading to learn when people are telling the truth, you can start by practicing telling the truth, yourself.