I once went to a business conference where the speaker held up a one-dollar bill in one hand and a hundred-dollar bill in the other hand.
He then placed both bills on the ground.
Next, he asked a simple question.
“Which bill will you pick up?”
He waited for about a minute for a response.
Then he made a bold statement.
“Most of you will pick up the one-dollar bill. The reason why you pick up the one-dollar bill is because you are comfortable with the one-dollar bill.”
As I thought about this further, I recognized that a significant portion of my work hours was spent on items that were not good uses of my time.
More clearly stated, much of my time was spent on busywork.
The worst part of this situation was that I was the person assigning myself busy work.
Each day I dutifully created a to-do list.
However, most of the items on my to-do list were unimportant urgent tasks.
I’ll share an example with you.
I had a client that hired me for a consulting project.
The project lasted four months.
During our final meeting of the engagement, I started the meeting by sharing with him that at the end of the meeting, I would ask him if he wanted to continue working with me.
We had a good working relationship, and I had helped improve his business’s profitability.
Over the four months, the increased profitability increased his cash reserves.
We enjoyed working with each other.
At the end of our meeting, I asked him if he wanted to continue working with me.
I replied that he was very happy with my work, and he wanted to continue working with me.
I replied that I would put together a proposal for us to continue working together, and I would have the proposal to him in a few days.
I got caught up in my daily work schedule, and the deadline to submit the proposal passed.
Every day I created my to-do list, and each day I wrote down prepare the proposal.
Day after day passed, and I neglected to create the proposal for my client.
Each time I thought about creating the proposal, I got caught up in overthinking.
The overthinking led to analysis paralysis.
I started to doubt myself, and I continued my procrastination.
I spoke with a business advisor regarding the situation, and I asked him what I should do about the proposal.
I explained the entire client journey to my business advisor; I shared with him my initial proposal to my client for the first engagement.
As I was looking at my initial proposal, I realized that I included two prices for me to continue ongoing work with my client.
My business advisor looked at my initial proposal, and he made a simple recommendation.
“Damon, when you talk with your client again, simply share the original proposal with him and ask him which option he wants to choose.”
My business advisor then asked me why I was making this more difficult than it had to be.
I chuckled and responded that I knew I was overthinking the situation.
I then told my business advisor that I would call my client and let him know that I had his proposal ready.
However, I continued my procrastination.
Looking back on it now, I recognize that I was scared.
I was fearful that I would fail.
I was fearful that my client would reject my new proposal.
Each of these fears was self-imposed.
I had no evidence to support my fears.
My fears were irrational.
Despite the irrationality of my fears, those fears held power on me, and I allowed them to halt my progress.
About a week after agreeing to call my client, I received an email from him.
My client asked me if I was still interested in working with him.
I replied to the email and asked him when we could schedule a phone call to go over my new proposal.
I was embarrassed by my inaction.
A few days later, I was speaking with my client on the phone.
I emailed him the original proposal and shared with him and pointed out the two pricing options for him to continue working with me.
I asked him which option made the most sense for him.
He chose one of the options, and we scheduled our next appointment.
He signed a new engagement letter and submitted payment for our ongoing work.
My fears of rejection and failure were unfounded.
I allowed my fears to prevent me from helping my client.
The new engagement with my client was work worth more than $14,000 to my business.
Five weeks had passed from the time I told my client I would submit the proposal and the time that I submitted the proposal to him.
It is surprising to me that my client agreed to continue to work with me.
How silly was it for me to allow my fears to prevent me from serving my clients?
How many times in the past have I lost the opportunity to make money and serve my clients because I was scared?
As I was analyzing his finances, I recognized there was a bottleneck in his business that was a hindrance to him growing the business.
My client had been in business for more than 15 years, and he had an excellent reputation.
He was continually getting new clients.
The bottleneck he had in his business resolved around reimbursable expenses he incurred with his clients.
His current business practice caused a situation where he would pay for the reimbursable expenses and then would get reimbursed for 45 – 60 days.
This situation caused cash flow problems.
I pointed out to my client that this was a serious bottleneck that would get worse as his business grew.
If he grew too quickly, his business would run out of money because the cash was tied up in the reimbursed expenses.
Rapid growth could potentially put him out of business due to a lack of cash.
We spoke about this bottleneck, and each time I suggested a solution he determined that the solution wouldn’t work.
During the first meeting of my new engagement with my client, we came up with a profound solution for this business.
The solution we came up with fixed the cash flow problem by getting my client reimbursed for the expenses within a few days of him incurring the expenses.
As a result of this solution, we removed the bottleneck and freed him up to grow his business without the cash crunch.
I was excited to help him with this solution.
After that meeting, I remember telling myself that I was glad we got to keep working together because now had fixed a major bottleneck in his business.
I then thought more about the fears I had to submit the proposal to him.
I learned from this situation that I need to act even if I’m fearful.
Most of the time in my life my fears lack substance.
By giving into my fears, I chose to pick up a one-dollar bill for five weeks instead of picking up a one hundred dollar bill.