Brace yourself. I’m going to wax a little philosophy. I know this is dangerous turf and I will try not to stimulate your gag reflex.
First, you should know something about my parenting skills. They are stellar. Until the child becomes a teenager. Then I am clearly pathetic at my job of being a mother. So in an effort to boost my internal esteem and fulfill my need to be with a child who might actually appreciate me, I invited a foreign exchange student into our home. What a breath of fresh air.
Martin is from the Czech Republic. I was very excited to host him, planning some special events that he could enjoy as “firsts.” His first trip to the beach. His first hot air balloon ride. His first visit to Disneyland. I enjoy watching others enjoy their “firsts” as much as I enjoy experiencing my own. Martin was to spend a few weeks with my son and then my son, in turn, would spend a few weeks in the Czech Republic with Martin. Both, in my plan, would have fantastic experiences enjoying many “firsts.”
Then came my learning curve, the bad with the good. Bear with me, I promise this relates to your business life. I was dumbfounded to find that deep into the process of planning the exchange, my son actually had no interest in going to the Czech Republic… or anywhere else. He is not an adventurer. To my shock, he stated clearly his desire NOT to go to a foreign country. I don’t see how he can be related to me. The next surprise was much more pleasant. I didn’t have to plan special “firsts” for Martin because EVERYTHING was a first. He ate his first peanut butter and jelly sandwich, his first BLT, his first waffle and his first smore. He roasted his first hot dog over a campfire and baked his first cookie. It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed my daily routine this much, to see it through Martin’s eyes. When he goes back to the Czech Republic, he will miss picking his orange juice from the front yard.
My misconceptions about these two boys are the same ones I’ve made in business so many times. When will I learn? You see, I had the arrogance to decide what each of these boys would enjoy. Then I found I couldn’t please my son at all, and I didn’t have to go “over the top” as expected to make Martin happy. After all, they are 17, so why didn’t I ask? How often do you ask your customers what they expect from you? If you make them happy, they will trust you. If they trust you, they will come back. One of my treasured accredited businesses has her employees answer the phone, “How can we make you happy?” She gets it. I’ll bet she’s a better mom than I am, too. I’m going to send her my teenager.