CHALLENGE: What’s your definition of freedom in business and adventure in life?
There’s something I heard Jonathan Field’s say one day that has forever been etched in my mind: ‘You should design a business that demands from you what you want to give.’ It’s so simple and yet at the same time so profound. It goes beyond the normal reasons we use to qualify our choices when starting a business, like:
- We have a certain skillset or talents OR
- People say we’re good at it OR
- We think we can do it better than the crappy boss we left OR
- It’s just something we love to do
But when you build a business that demands from you what you want to give it encompasses so much more than that. An entirely new set of parameters come in to play. You start to consider not only the obvious like what you want to give and why you’re doing it, but you explore things like the way you want to give it, where you want to be when you’re giving it and when you want to give it. And this last one is a biggie, who exactly you want to give it to (and we’re not just talking about target markets, niches or ideal clients either, we’re talking about your “perfect people”). Call me crazy, but I think building something that takes all these things into consideration and not just the big picture view, but the finer details and subtle nuances –that’s freedom for me.
Like for example, and this is just a small trivial thing, but I think it helps to illustrate where I’m coming from – I’m not a big fan of getting up really early. I like sauntering into my day instead of rushing into frenzied paces of productivity so now I start the ‘working’ part of my day in the afternoon. Everyday, I like to get up, meditate, write, join my husband at 9:30 for yoga and then go back to reading/writing, mixed in with a bit of relaxing or tidying up. And I LOVE my afternoon naps. I find that I tend to be most creative and open to new thinking and ideas after sleeping so by adding my afternoon siestas, I get two opportunities for that.
Now, embracing this routine was no easy feat especially being in North America where we’re all about “being busy”. I originally thought I should always be working when my clients are. But that’s not really what I wanted to give and the funny part was, they didn’t even care. I remember the first discovery meeting I had with one of my new bigger clients. We were on a conference call and I was connecting from Thailand. I remember wondering, ‘Should I discuss where I am right now? I mean I don’t want them thinking that I wasn’t serious about the project and that I took off with their deposit and now I’m living it up in some exotic country. But then I was like, ‘Hey, this is part of what I love and who I am. I didn’t win their business because I promised I would work from North America. I won it because I’m committed to giving them my best – quality work, valuing their needs and great service. So when I told them where I was, guess who was even more excited than I was :)?
The first time we chatted about their project and they showed me examples of what they wanted, I almost walked away because I just couldn’t feel good about doing it. I explained to them that although I could easily handle what they were requesting for the price, I wouldn’t feel right because I thought their vision deserved better. But if they really wanted it, I’d rather walk away and have them work with someone else. It’s probably one of the most ballsy things I’ve ever said to a client and frankly they could’ve considered it an insult, but…they stayed.
And I felt free not only because I could do what I wanted and what I believed was best but because they trusted me and believed in me. Now they’re loving the work and valuing me for it.
We have other clients that really value us being ourselves and we value them too. They’re not only great to work for, they’re just plain ol’ fun to be around and that helps bring the best out of us.
And nothing says freedom more than the freedom to be yourself.