Working with what's known

There are some things in life that we tend to avoid knowing.

For example, our credit score or the median cost of a rental home in our city.

It’s because there are some facts for which we have no capacity. Blissful ignorance has a certain value, to a point.

Until your state of ignorance costs you more than knowing what you’re really up against. Until your state of ignorance becomes an energy leak.

In my business, I like to minimize energy leaks from the beginning. I like to work with clear deliverables, known timelines and transparent budgets.

When I share work with a client, I ensure to include a request for feedback by a specified date. If I don’t hear from them, I follow up. There’s no need to feel guilty or that I’m being a nag. The timeline was known.

There will always be uncertainty. There will always be unknowns. But cleaning up the unnecessary ambiguity frees up mental energy. It plugs the leaks.

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.

Design from patterns to details

In permaculture, nature provides the pattern the gardener works from. Naturally occurring patterns enable energy flow. They ensure self-sustainability and self perpetuation.

“Design from patterns to details: by stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.”

When we ignore natural patterns, we block or disrupt natural energy flow creating more work and lower yields.

It takes time to observe and understand a pattern before we start to work with it . Eventually we want to design a system that works with, supports and enhances the natural flow of energy.

If you’re looking at your business and trying to find the patterns, they don’t have to be big or obvious. Try looking beyond patterns that sound like ‘this activity makes me the most money’ or ‘this is the most efficient way I’ve found to accomplish x’.

It could be something as simple as ‘when I do this activity, I feel good.’