Yesterday I sat down to a meeting with one our larger clients to talk about planning for the future. We talked for a while about some upcoming issues that we’ve been working on for awhile and needed to get on the calendar. I’ve recently been able to do some on-target work for this client as we’ve developed some unique solutions, and it’s been good. The guy I report to at this company is a V.P. of sorts, and wears many hats. He’s H.R. He’s I.T. He’s Operations. In other words, he’s always on the move. While necessary for the business, the computer systems seem to have become much more of a liability or necessary evil to this company instead of an investment, an asset. This led us a few months ago, as we were starting to look for new lines of business, to offer up services to allow this guy to step back from I.T. and hand us the reigns… basically, to outsource their I.T.
We’re good at this. We’ve been doing it for years at our VERY biggest client that recently closed it’s doors. It’s “natural” for us, if natural means it’s something you do every day. But it’s not where we are wanting to go with the business. Should this opportunity come to fruition and we take over this role, it would require someone on site for at least 20-30 hours a week, an on-call structure that demands a large commitment from me and my staff, and, while it would be profitable and a nice amount of “guaranteed” income each month, it is not the kind of profitable and fulfilling work we’d like to found ourselves in for years to come.
“But it’s WORK,” my head told me. Pursue it! Chase it! Negotiate yourself into it. But we didn’t. We laid our offer on the table, several months ago, and it went largely dormant.
Yesterday, after my meeting with the I.T.-guy-slash-multi-hat-wearer, we went over to meet with the president of the company as well. All good; we do this from time to time; he’s a good friend and involved in what I do there. About 5 minutes into the conversation I got the “AHA” moment as to why we were meeting… here… today… “We’ve decided to hire a full time I.T. guy. We thought long and hard about the proposal you gave us, but in the end, this is the way we are choosing to go.”
I felt like I did the moment I did when I heard that my monster client was closing earlier this year. Not anger, but peace. Not stress, but relief. I could truthfully concur that their undstanding of where I was taking my company was not “outsourcing IT departments.” That’s not what we want to do. It’s good, but it’s not best. It’s something we COULD do, but not what we SHOULD do. In fact, should this opportunity have worked out for us, it would have tied our hands once again and kept us locked into a line of work we weren’t meant to be in.
It’s enjoyable to sit across the table from someone who’s just delivered what they it looks like they thought you’d think was “bad news” and be totally fine with it, even happy with it. I’ll still have work with this company… probably a lot of the same server and networking work I’ve had before, but not “big contract.” No “big commitment.” But that’s all good! Because that’s not where I’m supposed to be. I, and my company, exist to equip and empower small businesses to step forward as a company through the use of technology. I don’t exist to just maintain equipment, fix problems, and recommend purchases. Someone has to do that, but that’s not me.
For the first time in a while, I’ll have the opportunity to look into the future with my contact, with their new IT guy, and PLAN ahead. To look at I.T. as an asset, instead of a liability. To find areas in their organation where I do have something unique to offer, and where what we offer truly IS valuable, special, and worth investing in. I’m looking forward to it.
So anyways… that’s my life lesson / reminder from a business encounter. I’m finding more and more of these, and I’m loving it. What I do each day is becoming less and less of an obligation, of a job, and much more of something I’m meant to do, something where I have a role to play. And as I encounter this, as I explore this, I’m discovering that in order to say YES to what I could do, I will at times need to say NO to what I could do. In order to say YES to what’s best, I may ned to say NO to what’s good.
How true is this in the rest of life? Oh, so very, very, very true. I’ve seen it popping up in what I do or don’t do at home, what I get involved or back out of in at church, the friends I invest myself in and those I let go, the hobbies I throw myself into and the ones I toss in the trash can regardless of their initial investment.
I have much to learn in this area. There are lots of things that I need to let go. There are others I could ditch so easily that really wouldn’t make a difference. As I continue to explore what I’m here for, I am coming to understand it very well may not be some “big” thing. It may not any “one” thing. It may just be to live my life, to find where I am to give to the world what I have to offer, and to give it wholeheartedly.
While letting things go is tough, there’s another side of the coin as well. I have to jump fully INTO what I AM supposed to be doing. This may mean doing things in ways I’m not used to, taking steps to achieve goals that don’t seem all that enjoyable, but are necessary to do in order to achieve what IS enjoyable. As I say often, the journey often IS the destination, as as I look at my entire life, all the little steps, in light of the big picture, the big goals, the huge dreams, it all begins to fall together… not into a completed puzzle, but into one where I’m starting to find pieces that fit together, then big blocks of those pieces, then a key corner, then the entire outside boundary… and soon, it all starts to come together.