Wait a minute. It’s not supposed to work like that.
Like what? Where you care more about your client’s success than she does.
And yet, it’s something I see coaches, lawyers, CPAs, and other service providers doing on a pretty regular basis.
Sometimes you just really get invested in your client’s success.
Sometimes more than they get invested in their own success.
Uh, that’s not so great.
You may bend over backwards to serve the client, such as agreeing to meet her at times that aren’t convenient for you, giving her your cell phone number when you have a rule of never doing that, or allowing her to push past your normal boundaries.
You worry A LOT about the client. She may miss deadlines or otherwise sabotage her success while you stress yourself out working overtime to meet deadlines she may have ignored.
I once had a client in my Peak Performance program. We were working on improving her health while she juggled the demands of a very busy legal practice with taking care of her husband and three kids.
Her doctor told her she’d developed Type 2 Diabetes, but that it was controllable through diet. He’d referred her to me to dial in her nutrition and create an exercise program … all with the goal of controlling her diabetes and helping her lose weight.
I jumped right in.
At the beginning of our work together, she appeared to be eager to regain control over her health.
Before long, though, things started to crumble.
She started missing workouts. She would deviate from her nutrition plan, eating “just one” cookie and justifying it by saying it didn’t taste sweet, so it was probably okay.
I began to worry about her, checking in with her between our scheduled calls and sending her lots of diabetic-friendly recipes, so she wouldn’t feel deprived.
Eventually, she told me she couldn’t keep up with the nutrition plan.
Oh, life is full of ironies.
She felt she was losing quality of life by not getting to eat everything she wanted.
It wasn’t long after that she became insulin dependent.
I felt awful, but you know what? She didn’t!
She said it wasn’t all that bad. She could eat whatever she wanted. She just had to take insulin to manage her blood sugar.
… so very full of ironies.
Of course that was her choice to make, no matter how mystifying I might find it.
But I learned a lesson.
No question it’s important to care about your client and her success. You want her to know you care and you want to do your best to serve her. But, when it becomes clear you care more than she does, it may be time to release her.
Maybe she isn’t ready for the success you’re helping her achieve. Maybe she’s bitten off more than she can chew. Maybe she just really values sweets. There are lots of reasons why people don’t follow-through with the energy and diligence you expected and needed from them.
If you’re a lawyer or other professional with an ethical duty to represent the client, you may not be able to release them. I get that, but no matter who you are, you can put some extra effort into assessing your future prospective clients’ true level of engagement.
And, you can spend more time outlining your expectations ahead of time to help ensure the clients you work with really are the ideal clients for you.
That way, you’ll be more likely to be working together with equal energy toward the same outcome … vs. you beating your head against a wall.