Doing something challenging–trust

For those of you who don’t know (and missed the earlier post about this), in the last week I successfully faced and overcame my greatest fear. I flew. I know, for many of you it seems unbelievable that I have traveled to places to speak, done SB2 and the like, and have done it all without setting foot on a plane. Trains and the trusty car are my friends.

I used to fly, but after returning from a trip to Europe, a very long time ago (last century, in fact), I decided I just couldn’t get on another plane. So I didn’t.

It wasn’t until recently that I decided I really wanted to change that. I wanted to challenge myself. I knew that in order for me to get to where I wanted to be, both physically and metaphorically speaking, I would have to fly. And I didn’t want some mental block to stop me from achieving what I want. So, I flew to Atlanta (and back) to deal with some family issues and to, well, test my wings.

I can’t tell you how many times the voice I had heard for so many years tried to say “Turn back! You can’t do this!” And each time I thought about all the stuff I’ve done that I never knew I could do, but tried and did anyway. Like law school and the Bar. Scary, big, tough things that lots of people can’t or won’t do. Recognizing what I have done let me know I could indeed do this.

More importantly, letting go and trusting others made me successful. You read that right: letting go and trusting others permitted my success. I didn’t have to keep that plane in the air, I had to trust that others would do that for me (and everyone else). I had to trust them to do their jobs. This is the tricky part and something we can (and should) apply to our businesses.

We can’t control everything. Some things we can, but other things are completely out of our control. If you want to shoot for Client X, you can only control what you do, not what they do. So you need to focus on what you can do: make the best work you can and present it to your targets in a compelling manner, consistently. Then you have to let go and let them do their jobs.

You must reach out and do so to the best of your abilities. You have to work hard to make great, original, compelling work, first and foremost. That is your job. You also need to present it to your targets, over and over. That is also your job. And you need to let your targets know you can do what they need you to do (like production). That too is your job. Most importantly, you need to make sure your targets are actually the right people to target in the first place. That’s your job as well.

But, your targets’ job is to find the best/rightest (sorry, not really a word but go with it) person for their project. You have to trust them to do that. You cannot try to control them into choosing you. You have to let go after you have done all you can, and trust that they will do their jobs. You have to trust that they will choose you when you are the right person for their needs. And you need to let go of the projects you don’t get (they were never yours!) and focus on being the rightest person for the next project/target.

When the match is there, they know it. That is their job. When they don’t choose you, it is for a good reason, you have to trust them on that, even though it’s really friggin’ hard to do. You wanted that great project–of course! Still, you have to trust that they work with gazillions of creative providers and they have information that informs their choices that you cannot possibly understand. Just like I don’t know how to fly or maintain a 757, even though I understand the basics of flight (air pressure, lift, etc.), you don’t know everything that goes into their choices. It’s not your job.

Instead, you have to trust and respect their professionalism, just as you want them to do for you and just as I had to do with the fine employees of Delta. And in the end, if you do your job and let them do theirs, you’ll get where you want to go.