A Good Time Was Had By All…

Especially those that attended. The annual client appreciation barbecue was more fun than ever, and we’re thrilled to have been able to feed a record number of people. Those that were there, make sure you tell your friends about Jeanette’s Secret Blackened Chicken. We’d love to see twice as many friends at the next one. Mark your calendars. August 2007.

Having received in the mail Arbinger’s Leadership and Self-Deception, let me heartily recommend it to everyone in business, and for those that are not, I’m going to recommend the personal edition, which is the Anatomy of Peace. In between, there’s the immortal classic The Bonds That Make Us Free, by Terry Warner, which is a graduate-level course in interpersonal relations.

All of these books do a tremendous job of helping me to see where I am not serving my clients or my family. I do have a huge number of responsibilities, and I do a pretty poor job of discharging them all. This is not because there isn’t time – there is always wasted space in everyone’s day – but because I don’t focus on the important things if they aren’t screaming at me. And worse, if I am not in the right frame of mind – if I’m in the box, as Arbinger would say – then I actively avoid engaging those tasks that would make my clients’ lives, and my life, easier and better.

Yes, I admit it. Sometimes I am selfish and just don’t want to deal with another phone call. I find myself getting frustrated at the incessant ringing of the phone, as if the people on the other end ought to know that I’m in the middle of something. Silly. Human, but silly. But there are times when I get out of the box, when I can see things much more clearly, and those times are glorious and beautiful. Those times I see things from the client’s point of view (or from my child’s, or my wife’s), and as Arbinger would say, their humanity calls to me. Then I can focus, because I care about the right things.

This doesn’t mean that work will now consume every minute of the day, any more than Rotary will, or the various Chambers of Commerce. Everything has its place. My wife and children need things that only I can provide them, and that same thing is not true of my clients in most cases. Still, the key for me is to be able to see clearly, so that I can discern the right thing to do now.

Last week was extremely difficult. We had a number of business-related difficulties that mounted and increased from about 4pm Wednesday right through 7pm on Friday. My wife and I were preparing for the barbecue on Friday night at about 11 and I found myself wondering if we were simply rearranging the deck chairs while the Titanic sank beneath us.

Nothing cures that feeling like spending most of Saturday surrounded by some of the kindest and best people I know. So we’re back, and raring to go. Things are not perfect, and we have some pretty significant challenges left over from last week. But I told the Empress that I thought we might look back on Saturday as the day things really began to take off, the day we turned away from what we were and embraced what we might become.

If you were there on Saturday, it’s your fault. I can never thank you enough.

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