I recently wrote about Beginner’s Mind. One benefit of Beginner’s Mind is that you are always a student. No matter how much you know you have to be prepared and open to learning. One of the absolute best things about the work I do is that I get to constantly learn and grow professionally and personally.
Last week I was grateful to learn from a client, whom we shall call Larry Lacroix. We were discussing strategy for client segmentation and service standards. This is a topic that we have passionately discussed lately. The crux of our lack of agreement on how to proceed was all about me being stuck in understanding what Larry was trying to tell me. Simply put, I was exhibiting Expert Mind not Beginner’s Mind. Larry, took a step back and told me a story and all of a sudden my Beginner’s Mind kicked in and possibilities opened up.
Larry told me about an experience he had in a local butcher shop that he used to frequent. Admittedly Larry was not a dedicated regular to the shop but, as he pointed out, he went in enough to be recognized by the owner. While Larry waited in line for service he became increasingly aware that the owner was directing certain customers for preferential treatment by the counter staff. This way of being treated did not sit right with Larry and he left the shop before being served and felt that he was not important and that he did not matter. He has never been back.
So what does all this mean? As I protested, that for all sorts of business management reasons all clients couldn’t be treated equally, Larry said to me, “NO client of mine will EVER get the feeling that they are not important and do not matter.” Then it dawned on me that Larry was providing me a great opportunity. He was reminding me that the world is full of possibility and that his clients are lucky people. What I have not shared is that Larry has deliberately structured his business to ensure that a client will always get what they need when they come into his shop and that he will take the time to pay them the type of attention they deserve. So really the focus of our work together is not about the right model but more about developing the capabilities for Larry and his amazing team to continue delivering fantastic personalized service so that a client never goes away feeling disrespected.
Thank you Larry! You are a great reminder to all of us in the clan, that the Passion of Purpose is the best business strategy of all.