April 12, 2018

Clients often tell me that I’m good at seeing the grey area. In my personal career and as a business coach, I’ve always believed in doing things my way, and I don’t mind breaking convention to find a solution that works for me. I help my clients do the same, and I love watching them be surprised by how many options they really have.

These two stories from my clients are great examples of how the gray area can hold the answers.

Explore New Ways of Doing Things

I have clients who believe that their way is the only way. They stick with the exact same processes they developed at the outset of their careers, and they never outsource anything. Not a single thing. Even when a process or project isn’t set up efficiently, they try to see it through on their own rather than reimagining thep rocess.

While I admire their determination, it’s my job to help them figure out the flaws in their work processes and how to address them. When these clients come to me, they know that things aren’t going well, but they’re too deep in to see exactly what’s causing the issue.

You have to be flexible enough to evolve when something has demonstrated, time and time again, that it causes headaches.

And many times, the fact that they’re resistant to exploring different options is at the root of their challenges.

Being set in your ways isn’t always a bad thing, of course—these clients have the tenacity and they know what they like and what they don’t. But an “all or nothing” mindset doesn’t work here. You have to be flexible enough to evolve when something has demonstrated, time and time again, that it causes headaches.

Double Down on What Works For You

One of the most stressful times in an entrepreneur’s life is when they start comparing themselves to competitors. If this is something you do (or have done in the past), you recognize that sinking feeling of realizing that everyone else has a beautiful and shiny website and a perfectly targeted niche. When you’re in the midst of developing your own thing, this can be a totally overwhelming experience.

I see entrepreneurs with websites that are almost replicas of the websites of their competitors, with language that sounds very similar to many others in their industry. And this, of course, defeats the purpose. How can you stand out when you want to be like everyone else?

That said, I do understand the impulse to compare yourself to others. I spent way too much time doing it myself before realizing that it wasn’t a worthwhile exercise.

While I’m definitely interested in what my competitors and peers are doing, I have to draw a line at comparing myself to them. My clients go through the same thing. I had a client who envied another entrepreneur’s huge Instagram following, but after discovering how much time and energy that person put into building it, realized that approach was not for her. Once she made that decision, she could focus her energy other places.

For these clients, the first step is acknowledging that other ways of doing things aren’t always inferior to their current process. By seeing the possibilities within the gray area, they discover new techniques to apply to their challenges while leaving the good and functional parts of their work intact.

Again, “all or nothing” is a myth here. You can absolutely think creatively about solutions for underlying components or aspects of your business without having to start from scratch.

This article originally appeared on HarperSpero.com

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