This summer I got a client email with the subject line: love note. In the email, she shared that she felt grateful for the work we’d done. She believed our work had allowed for some shifts and new paradigms to arise, which helped her create a successful event with a lot of visibility for her. Visibility which she had avoided in the past.
At that moment, I was so proud of the big steps she had taken to get herself there. I felt honored that I had gotten to witness her incredible growth. I was grateful that I get to do the work that I do.
But when I thought about sharing any of that publicly, I felt overwhelmed and quickly set it aside.
Ditto for another day when a client was overflowing with thanks at the end of one of our calls. He’s filled his consulting practice and has a different set of opportunities than he ever thought he’d find, all of which are lighting him up with fulfillment.
Super-duper awed is how I feel that he has found his path. I’m blown away by the amount of money he’s making in his business and how many lives he’s touching.
Happily, it’s more often than not that my clients like their results—and they tell me. Gulp.
Now you’d think I’d be over the moon and shouting it all over the place, right?
In fact, I’ve never ever, not even once sent an email like this sharing even one win.
Because in my style of coaching, I help others find their own way. I help them step into their own power and create a biz that they love. And I never want to take false credit for their success.
Anyone else feels that way?
It got me to thinking about why we do this. Whether we should reconsider this approach. About how we can appropriately own the results our work brings to our clients.
Given that it’s our confidence in our work that actually sells it, it's crucial to step into owning the outcomes of the work we do if we want to serve more people.
Here are four reasons we might not fully express the wins our clients have:
At the beginning of our businesses, we aren’t totally sure it’s us that’s helping create the result. We are likely to assume that the outcome is more from the client, right timing, or just plain luck. As our business matures, we forget to reconsider this attitude.
As purpose-driven entrepreneurs, we have a deeply collaborative style. We all firmly believe in our clients' capacities and we are willing to place the emphasis on their efforts. At the same time, we “helping” sorts downplay our own abilities as they often come naturally to us.
We’re afraid of sounding hyped up or false. It would break our hearts if others thought we were bragging or inflating our results. Rather than taking this chance, we stay quiet.
That pesky internal voice whispers that it’s not really us. It uses the above, and anything else it can find, to keep us safe in where we are and not moving forward toward change that feels scary or unknown.
There are ways to own the brilliance of our work that are honest, genuine, and honor our desire to truly support others.
Here are some authentic ways on how to own the results of your work instead. These should feel good AND let your brilliance come through:
- Recognize the value of holding space & collaborative growth: It’s time to get real that holding space for another human being to grow is a mighty skill. So is having faith and believing in someone else’s capacity. Walking with someone, instead of dictating an only way path, takes a whole slew of skills, including emotional intelligence and true knowledge of your craft. Just because you are naturally good at it doesn’t lessen the amount of skill it takes. Time to start honoring this because although it may feel natural to you, I promise it’s been hard-won by you and every p-a-i-n-f-u-l growth experience you have gone through. Yes, your clients do the growing but you are holding the container. Time to own up sweets and take credit where credit is due.
- Have a system to get feedback from your clients about their growth. It’s so much easier to let clients say it themselves. If you can build in a system within your business flow that automatically kicks into gear to ask clients for feedback, you can get the input about how your work is going without all the squirmy “but I feel bad asking” thoughts that might pop up and stop you if you have to enact this manually. There are truly graceful ways to ask for feedback. But they demand that you are willing and ready to accept the praise. Are you? Then take a moment to put that system into place that you’ve been meaning to. Ask for help if you need to. Or if you feel uncomfortable about accepting the accolades, you’ll need to start your work there.
- Share how you FEEL about your client’s outcomes, not that you caused it.When we share wonderful things that happen to our clients and say how we feel about these accomplishments, it honors both their progress and the container we are holding for them. It’s a fair way to hold the energy and moves the conversation into the realm of respectful acknowledgement. Of course, this also means you can share how you feel when your clients don’t make the growth they hoped for. It means you can have more honesty about what’s working in your business—and not—which can make it all more authentic and grounded.
Because none of us hits a home run every time. There is always a range of clients in our business, some making more progress than others. Just like in life. If we have patience and compassion for the ones who aren’t moving as fast, and we use those clients to take a look at what we need to do better in our businesses—shouldn’t we also stop and celebrate the ones who are?
I hope you’ll join me in this practice of looking honestly at what is working for your clients in your business.
By honoring the brilliance that does exist in your work, you create space for more of it. By owning the results that your container gives your clients, you give the universe a clear signal that you value your contribution. By valuing yourself, you take a step forward for all of us.
Looking forward to hearing about your clients and their wins!
Linda believes that small business owners can step into a better version of their business when they embrace authenticity and become more fully themselves. Her 25-year marketing career has included Kimpton Hotels, Jamba Juice, and Disney helping her clients win awards and placements in publications like The Wall Street Journal and TIME Magazine, as well as on the front cover of WIRED magazine. You can visit her website here: lindabasso.com or join her FB conversation.