I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.– Rabindranath Tagore
I was recently telling a friend of mine a story about a potential coaching client I’d spent over six hours with before making him an official offer of a coaching programme. I explained how he’d told me he needed to think about it. It had been nearly a month since our last conversation, and I’d heard nothing.
“Leah, you need to be careful. So many people out there in the service industry get taken advantage of. They do hours and hours of work for free and never get paid. You ought to be charging up front.”
Just a couple of days later, that potential client emailed me, asked me how to pay, and immediately deposited the money into my account.
And a few days after that, another potential client I’d spent time with for free over four months earlier, sent an inquiry about a new coaching/hiking programme I was running. A few days later, she was signed up.
Fear and Scarcity
For a long time, I held the same beliefs as my friend. I believed that, given half the chance, people would take advantage. Back then, I was reluctant to spend too much time with someone before I had their cash in the bank. When I first ventured into the world of self-employment and started my coaching practice, I lived in a constant state of fear. What if I can’t get this potential client to sign up? What if another coach steals my clients? What if I can’t get this? What if I can’t get that?
Get. Get. Get. Me. Me. Me.
Anchored in this place of fear and scarcity, building a business was not only a constant struggle, but it just didn’t feel good. I’d left the corporate world and gone in to coaching with a deep desire to help others achieve their potential, and to do work that felt meaningful and purposeful. So far, it really wasn’t feeling so great.
A Shift to Service and Love
I used to think there was only one way to build a successful business – to sell, to market, and to convince people to buy. Hardly surprising given the number of messages we’re fed online each day about marketing, selling, and how to get more people to ‘buy’ our products. Perhaps this works for some businesses and for some entrepreneurs, but I quickly learned that, if this was the way it had to be done, I was going to have a really hard time.
Everything felt wrong to me. All I wanted to do was help people live better lives.
Thankfully, I discovered the work of coaches like Steve Chandler, Rich Litvin, and John Morgan. These coaches had created hugely successful coaching practices, but built on a purity of service that struck a chord deep within me. Finally I saw a way that I could exist in this world without having to compromise on my core values.
Learning about how they’d built their successful businesses on a foundation of deep service and love, and eventually enrolling with John as his coaching apprentice, my mindset has gradually shifted from one of ‘get’ to one of ‘give’.
And in stark contrast to what my friend believed about the danger of spending too much time with people for free, I’ve found that by concentrating on serving people in the most powerful and loving way I can, my business has become increasingly more, not less successful.
Top Tips for Moving from Fear to Love in Business
1. Stop asking yourself what you can get from people and instead start asking yourself how you can serve them.
2. Help people. Serve them. Help them and serve them more powerfully than anyone has ever done before. Leave them gobsmacked by your willingness to serve.
3. If you’re starting out and you’re still building your business, stop refusing to work for free or at low rates. You say you love what you do? That it’s your purpose and passion? And yet you’d still rather not do it at all than do it for free? That’s ludicrous. Get out there and do your thing!
4. Stop buying into the story that you can’t trust people and that everyone is out to get you. If I’d continued to buy into this story, my life would be miserable. And if that’s what you’re looking for, it’s probably what you’ll get.
5. Stop seeing everyone else as the enemy and as competition. Business will never be joyful if you’re living in fear that one client signing up with someone else means one less client for you. There is enough for everyone. And besides, we are all unique individuals, but we are all part of the whole. As human beings, it is our duty to help and support each other.
Ultimately, I believe it’s my friend who ought to be a little cautious. By buying in to the stories of fear and lack we’re bombarded with every day through the various streams of media, I believe he’s missing out on a far more joyful experience of life.
Love and service. That’s what creates a successful business.
Could you benefit from making a shift from fear to service and love in your own business?
Photo by Sibel