Staying Grounded in the Face of Big Clients or Big Money

BlogHer Original Post

Do you feel intimidated in the face of powerful clients or big money? Have you ever changed your policies or compromised your mode of operation to accommodate a client or employer because they were affluent or yielded power? If you have, you've sold yourself short because of a hidden (or sometimes not so hidden) intimidation factor that happens when you stand in the face of a seemingly powerful force.

We all naturally are drawn to want to land that big job or big client. The lure of big money drives us all even if money is not really our primary motivation. The right job or client, for you, can be great, yet in the rush of possibility or pressure, sometimes you can totally lose sight of what you really want. A promise of a big windfall followed by a weak moment can lead you down a path opposite of your vision and what you initially set out to create. Before you know it you're careening down a hill without brakes.

What you need to succeed in these instances is the ability to stay grounded and centered even while in the face of big clients or big money. Grounded so you can make a conscious choice and not get sucked into the lure of a fantasy that you don't even want. My favorite description of this phenomenon was written by Pam Slim of Escape from Cubicle Nation when she wrote "Choosing Between a Crack Pipe and a Shot of Wheatgrass Juice". She describes this rush of temptation of being pulled from her current vision like this:

Yesterday, I had a jolt of adrenaline which I would only imagine could be equated with the rush felt by crack addicts. I was asked to facilitate a meeting of high-powered female executives, politicians and movie stars all in support of a really good cause. It is the kind of opportunity that is the consultant’s version of a P Diddy video, except instead of vats of Cristal and scantily clad beautiful women, it is elbow-rubbing with Gucci-clad female executives, exchanging gold-plated business cards and magical phrases such as “you should really talk to …”

As she shares in this post and in more depth in her book, at times like these you need a swig of wheatgrass juice:

Keeping clear with my life purpose and business vision, which I call drinking wheatgrass juice, will give me long-term physical, emotional and spiritual satisfaction. It is not a fast high, it is a lifetime of making smart, healthy choices.

This metaphorical wheatgrass juice is a way of staying grounded in your vision, your desires, your career even when tempted to bend to satisfy a difficult client's demands or indulge in a short-term high that would pull you off course. 

I love Andrea J. Lee's take on this subject in "Big Client. Big Money. (Big Intimidation. Or, not?) | Top 10 Tips for Handling Yourself in Those Moments, Part 1".  In her experience, big money doesn't have to be unnerving, but can instead have a solid, grounded, and fortifying influence.  Her #1 tip speaks directly to the point I started this article with:

(1) Don’t be overeager/gush/be awed by celebrity or fame.

This is one of the most off-putting energies you can bring to the table. In fact, one of the biggest ways you can distinguish yourself working with affluent clients is your lack of flightiness. As thrilling as the opportunity might be, standing solidly on your own two feet, comfortable in your value, you will signal your likely ability to work well together long term.

You're witnessed it. You've likely been the one doing it.  But that gushing "yes, yes, yes" thing that happens when you're in awe of or feeling 'not worthy' of being in the presence of someone with power or money sells your self-esteem up the river.  Everyone is on equal footing in this world from a worthiness standpoint.  Stand in your own space and BE there.

This approach is handy not only for that prospective job or client but also for dealing with existing clients, co-workers, bosses, etc. Firing a client is not always easy, but again, sometimes it is just what you need - a swig of Pam's wheatgrass juice.  Consider this - there are many different ways to fire a client, but all require that you stay grounded in yourself regardless of whether the client is some bigwig or offers big payola.  I found this article by Jane Out of the Box about "Firing Clients: How Three Types of Female Entrepreneurs Handle it When Things Just Don't Work Out" very interesting. It shows how very differently the three types of "Jane's" - Jane Dough, Tenacity Jane, and Accidental Jane handle the same event (firing a client). While their approaches are different in the end:

No business owner wants to fire a client. It’s difficult to accept that something just isn’t working out. But sometimes all you can do is to get out, and it proves to be best for both parties involved. Whether you’re a Jane Dough, an Accidental Jane or a Tenacity Jane, when it’s time to cut and run, you can do it. And you’ll be better off for it.

What all these scenarios have in common is that you need to be confident and grounded so you can make the best choices for you even in the face of the intimidation of big money.  How do handle these situations?  What are some of your success stories and nightmare encounters?


Paula Gregorowicz, owner of The Paula G. Company, offers life and business coaching for women to help you gain the clarity, confidence, and courage you need to take your business and life to that next level. Get the free eCourse "5 Steps to Move from Fear to Freedom & Experience Greater Confidence" at her website

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