The Bottom

When you’re in a downward spiral, as hard as it sounds, you need to hit the bottom. You can’t get the momentum you need to change direction without bouncing off something. Hitting the bottom at full speed gives you the momentum to bounce upward and start moving towards the life you want.

But if you’re fighting the downward trend, if you’re too scared to hit the bottom, how will you ever gain the momentum you need to pull yourself out?

It’s scary to be in free fall. How will you have to fall? How will you know when you’ve truly reached the bottom and not simply bouncing off the sides? Maybe you’ve hit the bottom before and it was so unpleasant, so traumatic, there’s a part of you that refuses to go there again. Or perhaps you thought you had already reached the bottom only to discover there was still further to fall.

When we’re fighting what is, when we generalize our past experience, our past traumas to our current reality, we end up in a loop, repeating the same patterns, never letting go enough to reach the bottom. And so we never experience the real shifts we need to make change happen. The wake up calls never reach us.

But when we let go, when we allow what is to be fully realized, the bottom isn’t far away at all. And in fact, when we start exploring the bottom, we discover a path out.

On who's terms?

If you make an appointment to see your dentist and have certain needs such as sedation or antibiotics or a preferred flavour of flouride, they have systems in place to accommodate you.

But what if you need something that falls outside of their systems?

Perhaps you only want to visit the dentist on Sundays or you want to pay by personal cheque. Or perhaps you don’t want to make an appointment and simply want to walk in off the street and be seen by a dentist at a moment’s notice.

Your dentist simply doesn’t work in these ways. The clinic doesn’t open on Sundays. It requires payment at the time of service by cash or card only. It doesn’t offer a walk-in service unless it’s an bona fide emergency. Despite all of this, you will probably stay loyal to this dentist. After all, they know you. They do good work. You trust them.

We teach our clients how to treat us.

When we begin, we have the capacity to take on urgent work. We are more tolerant to working on our clients’ terms. Pay how you like. By the due date would be great. Just pay me. Thanks.

As you grow and your time becomes more valuable, your capacity to respond to emergencies decreases as does your willingness to absorb late payments, missed meetings and project delays.

Yet you didn’t set up your boundaries this way to begin with so now what?

If there’s fear about the loss of the relationship from being more firm about your process, that will require some examination.

On one hand, you may fear that your client will judge you. How so? They might think you too rigid, greedy, difficult, unprofessional. Do you fear damage to your reputation?

On the other hand, what do you have to fear if the relationship remains the same? Staying frustrated that your client doesn’t respect your process. Staying frustrated at not feeling heard? Arguably, there is much more to fear about not expressing a boundary.

When complexity becomes a burden

There is a traffic light I encounter everyday on my way to work. It’s at a regular four way intersection - streets perfectly perpendicular to one another.

In one direction the street is divided into four lanes, the other into two. It’s not an overly busy intersection however on one side is the entrance to a bus loop making it a hub for pedestrian traffic.

The duration between light changes is interminable and there are long periods where no one moves at all. Drivers receive advance green arrows no matter in which direction they are turning or from where they approach.

All of this waiting while streams of traffic move only in one direction or another makes pedestrians impatient. Instead of waiting for the signal to cross, they’ll cross whenever it appears clear. Often only to become stranded on an island at the centre of the intersection.

The signal sequence makes the flow of traffic unpredictable. On many occasions, I’ve watched as pedestrians get blindsided by vehicles travelling in a direction at a time they didn’t expect.

The intersection is a system burdened by unnecessary complexity.

Which of your systems could benefit from pruning, or paring back to leave a minimum viable offering?