Love your clients fiercely, and the rest will follow.
I work with a lot of people who are in love with what they create and offer the world. That’s a lovely thing indeed. When we love something we’ve made, it shows. We craft it, shape it, smooth it, make it beautiful and useful and easy to want.
One particular client comes to mind, from a few years ago. She’d just become an LCSW, and had a vision of working with people recovering from trauma. She planned the perfect office from which to offer her counseling and coaching. She mapped out the location, the colors, the perfectly soothing art, the soft and comforting furniture. She designed programs on paper that perfectly articulated her beliefs and knowledge around how individuals could get their lives back after traumatic incidents.
And then, nothing happened for two years.
She worked in the public sector for a while, joined someone else’s practice, and occasionally looked in the folder with all the paint chips and treatment plans. Something was missing for her.
That special something floated into my mind this morning in my meditation (shorthand for “Margaret stares out the window and focuses on the big tree for ten minutes”).
It’s not enough just to love what you offer.
You have to love the person you’re offering it to.
Not just love them like all people deserve to be loved, that tidy, new age book love. But love them fiercely. Love who they are, and how hard they’re trying.
When I started my business 20 years ago, I wasn’t sure I’d stick with it. At that moment I was very much in the realm of “I have a skillset I can sell. I’ll try this.” My first clients, though, changed all that.
They were children’s book authors. But not just the kind who had fun writing and illustrating cute stories that would entertain an 8-year-old for ten minutes while mom cooked dinner. They had something bigger in mind.
They were travelers and loved to explore the world. In every place they visited, they saw the beauty in the vast diversity of our Earth and its people. Different art, different food, different ways of living, different landscapes. They lived out Mark Twain’s belief that travel is “…fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” They wrote their books to open the minds of kids who might never have a chance to see this bigger world.
But even more important than that vision, something else happened: They fell in love with the readers they wrote for. The kids they met and to whom they read their first book to were fiery-eyed, hungry to know that the world was big, interesting, and theirs. They pressed in with questions about the places the book characters visited. They asked whether they liked the food, how to speak other languages, whether they wanted to go to Africa, Australia, China.
They carried the beloved images of these kids with them as they traveled, researched, and wrote. They loved these wild, curious spirits, and were loved in return.
In turn, I fell in love with them as clients. I was floored by their mission, and wanted to help them open even more eyes, minds, and hearts.
When we love someone fiercely, it breaks us open. We are bigger, better, more expansive, more joyful. We want to share the object of our love with the world. We want to do anything for them.
When we take the time to know the clients and customers we want to serve with our work or our small business, it’s easy to love them fiercely. If you’re an artist, consider that your buyer might be someone who could never have nice things when she was younger. Now she’s able to spend a little to bring beauty, whimsy, and the elemental presence of human-made art into her home, her sanctuary.
If you’re writing a book, picture the person reading it, grabbing a few quiet moments before the next wave of life knocks them over: Are they stuck, suffering, craving new knowledge, needing release/relaxation after the stressful days of modern life? Are there wings you can help her unfurl to burst up and out into a new place of perspective?
If you’re a coach, think about how hard someone has worked to try to solve the pain or problem they’re bringing to you. See them as they sit quietly, remembering a time when life seemed so much better. Think about the beautiful new story they want to create, where they are able to be more joyful and share more joy with others.
When we take the time to really know and get acquainted with our ideal clients, there’s just so much to love about them. They are trying as hard as they can, doing the best they can with the light they have to see by at this moment in their lives.
Get to know them. Love them fiercely.
Learn what they want and need right now.
Create something that focuses on their needs. Make it beautiful.
Tell the world about them. Give them something that will make them want to tell the world about you.
But mostly, just love them. Everything else—inspiration, energy, abundance—will follow.