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“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey
I just finished fight club. What is fight club? It’s a group of business owners that meet each month to give personal and professional updates about our lives. The other members listen and hold each other accountable based upon the last meetings notes. We’ve been meeting now for over 2 years and it’s amazing to reread the notes from previous meetings and watch the personal and professional growth of all our members.
Today, one of our members was talking about referrals. He seemed to be struggling in that area and thus was looking to be held accountable. I mentioned the best person at getting referrals I had ever met was my partner Jenny. I explained that usually after each meeting Jenny has with a client, an email is sent to one of her client’s friends or vendors advising that they really need to meet with Jenny. The e-mail’s are usually pretty persuasive and thus when Jenny follows up, she gets a meeting most of the time.
I ask Jenny how she managed this and before the end of each meeting she asks about friends that run their business similar to her clients. If they struggle, she moves on to vendors. Rarely does she leave with out a commitment of her client to send one or two emails to either a friend or vendor.
Getting back to Fight Club, my friend indicated that is not my problem. My problem is that I don’t ever ask my clients if I can help them and then refer in my friends and business partners. Obviously a different issue, but as Anson 5:16 states – it’s always better to give then to receive.
The solution for my friend was to ask about the clients greatest pain or problem and then try and match that pain up with a vendor that can provide some help. This strategy might or might not work, but it’s a start to fixing a problem.
If you are not in an accountability group, I cannot emphasize the impact it can have on your life. Find 6 or 7 folks that are in the same station of life as you, and set up a meeting. We are very relaxed; I usually take notes using GOOGLE docs and then send the updated link to the group after each meeting. If a member misses, which usually happens once or twice a year, they can keep up with the other members.
At the beginning of each meeting we look at the member that spoke last at the previous meeting and read their comments. We stop, put their name down and they begin to vomit as to what steps they have taken to fix their last meetings issues and outline some success and failures both personally and professionally that they have experienced in the last month.
Another member is working through his financials and has asked all of us to review his financials and give him our feedback. Since all of us are owners or are in a leadership role in our respective companies, “Bobby” will get 7 other sets of eyes analyzing his financials asking pointed questions. Next meeting we will spend a little time reviewing our comments and helping “Bobby” modify his dashboard to something that is a little more understandable and controllable. Maybe he won’t change a thing, but the exercise of outside review of his financials will be valuable. If you are scare of someone seeing your financials, you should probably go do something else.
Personal and Professional accountability groups are very important in the development of your person and profession. Pick the right people, set the next meeting at the end of the current meeting and use outlook to send everyone a calendar reminder. We move locations every meeting to each other’s business to keep it fresh. Start a group today or you will wither in average the rest of your freaking life.
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