Five years ago this month, I had emergency heart surgery. It was totally unexpected. (That was the emergency part.)
I’d been having chest tightness for a few years whenever I exercised, but none of the medical professionals I consulted seemed to think it was anything serious.
But then one morning, I got back from a run and had a very strong urge to go to sleep. Immediately. On the kitchen floor.
My wife Linda was concerned and suggested I call my doctor. She scheduled a stress test for later that day and off I went.
Sure enough, when I got off the treadmill, a cardiologist walked in the room and said, simply, “You’ve got a heart problem.”
Let me just stop right there and tell you that on the List of Things You Never Want to Hear, “You’ve got a heart problem,” is in the top three.
(The other two are, “I know I look older, but I’m only 16,” and, “Your roommate at this week’s diversity retreat is Mel Gibson.”)
Anyway, they admitted me right then and there, and put me first on the list for surgery the next morning.
Two stents into a blocked coronary artery later, and I was as good as new by lunchtime. They sent me home the very next day.
A close call? Absolutely.
Although if you’re hoping that I’m going to share some pithy bit of life wisdom that only those who’ve had a brush with death are privy to, you’re about to be disappointed.
It all happened so fast that I never had the chance to ponder any of life’s bigger questions.
I did notice one interesting thing, however: Not only did they play music in the operating room, before he began, the surgeon asked me what type of music I wanted to hear.
I said, “The type where people don’t die on the operating table.” (We settled on country.)
But I guess it makes sense; I would be awake during the entire operation, so they wanted me to be as comfortable and relaxed as possible.
And even though my assignment in this highly technical procedure amounted to nothing more than “don’t move,” my overall level of satisfaction was correlated with the process as well as with the final result.
Now let’s consider the work you do (you knew I’d get to this).
Is yours highly technical? Are your clients more or less “hands off” while you do what they hired you to do?
The more these two things are true, the more likely it is that you don’t think very much about what it feels like to work with you.
And why should you? You do the work, you hand it over, done.
I think that’s a mistake – and a missed opportunity. And not just because it’s nice to let somebody listen to music while you operate on them.
It’s because their assessment of the work you did – the value you provided for the money they spent – is about more than just the technical details (I already assume you know how to do those).
I love my attorney because I feel like she’s got my back … not because she passed the Massachusetts bar.
I love my financial planer because he helps me feel comfortable about my financial future … not because he knows a thing or two about the stock market.
How about you? What is it that your clients are wanting from you – in addition to whatever “technical” expertise you provide?
Confidence that they are on the right path?
Security about the future?
Excitement about where you are taking them?
A sense of comfort, knowing that you’re handling things?
Whatever your particular answer, it’s worth giving this some thought.
Here’s the bottom line. For the most part, we professional service providers get hired to do something: build the web site; manage the project; analyze the data; hire the candidate; whatever.
And that’s fine. But if that’s all you’re delivering, you’re leaving money on the table for yourself and value on the table for your clients who may be hoping for a whole lot more.
- What’s first on your list of, “Things You Never Want to Hear?”
- Do you think rooming with me is high on Mel Gibson’s list?
- When it comes to how they feel, what do your clients really want?
Share your comments below!
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