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I had a great discussion the other day with my friend, Arik Hanson, whom many of you that frequently read this blog may know. Arik recently started his own PR/social media consultancy, and from seemingly every indication, his business is thriving.
I pointed this out to Arik, noting how in control he seems to be of everything. Arik then made a comment back that I frankly wasn’t expecting, but it completely makes sense, and shows that he is absolutely on the right track toward a very long and successful business; Arik told me: “Things are going well now, but I never want to get ahead of myself. I’m trying to keep everything under control.”
Talk about foresight and the ability to grasp the “here today, gone tomorrow” nature of any small business.
All this got me thinking about a single word that has been rattling around in my head a lot lately: PATIENCE. As in, don’t try to take on the world just yet, Keith. There’s plenty of time to do it all. Arik seems to know this very well, and I have massive respect for him because of that. It’s a difficult concept to embrace, especially when you are on your own.
Working in a service industry that moves faster than almost any of us can think, we become trained to be a little impatient; to want something yesterday when it was promised to be delivered today. But life doesn’t always work that way. The proverbial monkey wrench often gets thrown into initiatives in this business, and inevitably, there are going to be clients and others that you encounter that are either major roadblocks toward your team’s success, or drag their feet so much with seemingly every decision that you and your team get stuck in a quagmire of minutiae, never able to achieve any discernable goals.
In just a few years working in PR, I’ve experienced all of these “fun” situations … and many, many more. Yet what I’m finding that what works best for me is not to try to bullheaded in these situations, puff out my chest and say “Do it my way, or else!” but to actually more or less roll with things. Be patient, yet incredibly persistent.
Sometimes, no matter how much we prepare and anticipate for anything to happen, the unexpected WILL happen. That reporter who promised you that fantastic, influential placement for a tough client would be published tomorrow, well, they have bosses, too, just like you do, and sometimes, those persnickety editors can get in the way of things and push something back. Please, for the benefit of all of us in this business, don’t yell at that reporter. Nine times out of 10, it’s not their fault something got delayed or maybe even cancelled.
I have found that things have a way of turning out for the best when you continue to be persistent and persevere even when the pressure is at the max, but the whole time, you are cognizant of the fact that not every great accomplishment will get done today, tomorrow or even next month. Things tend to blow up (in a bad way) when you try to push well beyond the comfort level of all parties involved.
Be calm. Be patient. Just nod your head and say “uh-huh” to the blowhards and a**holes, and then find a way to make big things happen that do not directly involve them. Then, at the end of the day, when people are passing around praise for the good work you did, and the blowhard tries to steal your thunder, keep reality in mind. Just nod your head, smile and remain patient. People will notice who has done the best work. It just may take a bit of time.
It’s been a difficult year for all of us, and we have all been tested in ways some never thought possible. Learning to be patient—very patient, sometims, has been my major professional test. What has been yours?