“What? How did that happen? I didn’t see that coming! What the hell should I do now?”

We all are faced with news we didn’t expect.

A long-time relationship went south. A client fired us without any inkling of our having problems. A trainee stopped midstream as if our training meant nothing. No answer to our many inquiries.

We are on a roller coaster as entrepreneurs, and we all go through difficult times. The ups are ever slow and rickety. The downs go by in a blur and put our stomachs in our throats, We secrete endorphins. sweat bullets, and our heart pounds.

We mentally experience some or all of these at one time:

  • self-doubting our business viability,
  • wondering how we will even get past the next few day(s),
  • rushing to meet a seemingly impossible deadline,
  • working long, hard hours to accomplish something, yet little progress to show,
  • psyching ourselves out of being able to noodle through a dilemma,
  • waiting for a client to produce what we need to go to the next step,
  • reducing our price to keep the relationship,
  • and then something happens that demands immediate attention to take us away from the schedule of the above accomplishments.

RIGHT? I am sure you can add more here.

Flip side. So can our clients. They stress too, but for somewhat different reasons than we do as entrepreneurs. They have corporate pressures to produce, sell, meet a quota, appease a psycho-boss, etc. But they do. And you may never know the extent of it.

Until some can’t handle it and disappear. As if the company causing the overwhelming mental fatigue and social pressure is giving them the “privilege” of working there. And they relinquish the pressure. One of my clients did just that: went radio silent, then disappeared, only for me to find out he is out of the firm. I’ll find out next week in a zoom call exactly why.

It’s a sad state of affairs in business today: doing more with less. Even after furloughs,  cut-back hours, or the dreaded reduction in force.

The clients only see their own situation, not yours.

You only see your situation, not theirs.

We are all burning that candle from both ends: work, physical and mental health, family responsibilities, finances, outside commitments, a pandemic in the middle, election jitters on top; fears abound.

Burning out is not an option, You will not overcome the screaming in your head unless you quiet yourself first.

You will come across as conflicted, even subliminally, in your word choice, actions, facial expression, body language, all the ways you are handling their account.

Stop. Breathe. Reassess the situation in a new way. Confront the client with open-ended, open-minded, open-to-their-opinion type questions, It may just be a different set of circumstances than you conjured in your head, with a surprisingly logical (now it is, after more data to process) explanation. This article may help you find hope in despair.

Accordingly, you can go onward. Because you want to, and you must. But don’t burn out. Smoke is not a good perfume around you.

Be sure you put your best effort forward every step of the way. Be as positive as you can. You are human and entitled to be vulnerable. But you have to project healthy optimism as well, even if you never receive an Academy Award for doing it.

Or a Pulitzer Prize on your LinkedIn profile too, of course.