Several years ago, I had an amazing opportunity to grow my business. I had a lunch meeting with a prospect who owned several businesses that owned and leased barges to haul cargo up and down the Mississippi River. The former accountant was retiring and even he was there at the lunch meeting to give his support that I was the best choice as his next CPA. We all laughed, ate and drank all the way through lunch. As we were walking out the door, the former CPA commented how well the meeting went but I wasn’t so sure. Something didn’t gel right with me about the meeting.
Several days later I received a call. The call was from the prospect letting me know that he decided to go with another CPA. After I hung up the phone, I began thinking…what went wrong? If I had the full support of their former CPA that handled their business for over 20 years, whatever went wrong at the meeting had to be about me, right? All of the typical doubts slid through my head as I contemplated what went wrong:
- Was my price too high?
- Did I say something wrong during the meeting?
- Was I not smart enough?
- Maybe I wasn’t experienced enough
I often had these thoughts when business didn’t go exactly perfect as it should have, at least in my mind. It took me years to come to the self-realization that my problem wasn’t that I’m not qualified, enthusiastic, or experienced, my problem was, I lacked self-confidence and self-worth.
Trying to be successful at your business without self-worth is like trying to fill a bucket full of water that has a hole in the bottom. It takes twice as much effort to achieve the same result because if you don’t believe in yourself, certainly your customers, prospects and referral sources won’t either.
Over time I started implementing small changes in my life that helped me feel focused and confident. Of course over time I learned more about my profession through education which assisted me but the real changes were personal changes I made to my life.
Take care of your health
At the time I was over 100 pounds overweight and little did I know how miserable I was. I joined a boxing gym and found exercise classes that I enjoyed. I started incorporating more fruits and vegetables into my diet. My goal at first was just to make it through the classes and for the longest time, the struggle was real. As I started shedding the pounds, classes became more and more enjoyable. Now, I set aside time at least three to four times per week to go to exercise classes and I try to do a physical activity every day. If you have trouble finding time to exercise, make it a priority. Set aside time or schedule your exercise and tell your office and family about the time you have dedicated towards it. In the long run, your office and family will be better off with you healthy.
Changing your diet is a huge part of a healthy lifestyle. Find what nutrition program works for you but the most important thing is that you never give up. By making healthy food choices, you are saying with every nutritious bite that my health and well-being matters to me.
Learn to say “no” instead of “yes”
Sometimes it’s easier to say yes. Saying yes can help you avoid confrontation. Saying yes can feed your fear of not getting another opportunity “I better say yes now or I won’t get the job.” We say yes to customers that aren’t a good fit for us. We say yes to family and friends when saying yes puts us in a difficult situation. I challenge you to change your thinking. Instead of thinking of reasons how you can say yes, start looking for reasons that you can say no. Your time and energy is valuable and by saying no more often, you are being selective about what matters to you.
Schedule time outside of your inner circle for you
We all carry many labels. Mine are father, husband, boss, son, (the list goes on). Our lives can become ruled by expectations from the labels we carry and we can lose the feeling of individuality. While I cherish being a husband and father, I realize the value and importance of personal relationships outside of the day-to-day. Consider setting up a regular dinner with friends and look for opportunities to connect into new relationships.
Don’t be embarrassed to treat yourself well
Recently I had a client meeting with an attorney that keeps a small legal practice. He was tossing around the idea of buying a BMW and he had his eye on a specific model for a while. I asked him what was holding him up and he said to me, “I’m concerned about what my clients would think.” I responded with, “if your clients cared at all, hopefully they would respond with a statement that it’s about time your car reflect the level of service and advice you have given to me.” Don’t be afraid to upgrade your hotel room, your rental car or to tell your clients about your great vacation. When you treat yourself, you are making the statement that I am confident enough in myself to make this investment in me. Keep in mind, I’m not saying it’s OK to buy a small island in the Caribbean. Frugalness is its own version of self-worth as you are selecting which way you would like to spend your hard–earned money.
Looking back on the lunch I had with the barge company, it was best that we didn’t do business together because we weren’t a great fit. By cultivating your own self-worth, you will have the confidence to believe in yourself when things don’t go your way and to persevere.