“What if Your blessings come through raindrops,
What if Your healing comes through tears,
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?
What if trials in this life are Your mercies in disguise?”
– Laura Story, Blessings
I’ve recently gone through a period of time with my consulting firm where I had to learn to see the blessing in “No.” Have you ever been there? During that time, I listened to the song quoted above and struggled with finding the blessing in “No” until just about two months ago.
Let me explain. After having our most successful and profitable year, 2012 looked to continue that trend of growth and success. That is, until June. June is usually a very busy month for us, but last year it wasn’t. “That’s fine,” I told myself business is always slower in July and then picks back up in August. We looked to have a very strong fall, so I should take the summer to work on our new product offerings. But business didn’t pick back up in August, or September, or even October. It just dripped in here and there.
By this point, I was really getting stressed and concerned. We were doing everything we were supposed to from marketing activities, to client communications & meetings, to developing new offerings – but business wasn’t coming in. Even the public courses we had scheduled were down. Instead of maxing out the class with 24 or 25 participants we would have 5 people registered, or worse yet, we would only have 1 or 2 and have to cancel the class.
What was happening? I still had payroll and taxes to pay and our other overhead expenses. We run a virtual firm, so we don’t have much overhead, but after four months of this we were really eating into our retained earnings. All I was hearing from our clients and prospects was they were putting everything on hold until after the first of the year. Really?!
As I fought and struggled with this, I kept trying to fix the problem, find a solution, look for the way out. Honestly, I was absolutely sick over the entire situation. Wasn’t I seeking and following the calling on my life? Why, at every turn, was the answer “No?”
Then one day, in mid-December, it dawned on me, I had become so focused on building & growing my business, I had lost sight of my family. Ouch. I thought that since both kids were now in school I could devote more time to firm and really press on towards that goal of becoming a million dollar firm. Wrong. See I’m not the only one who travels for work in our family, my husband does too. For a seven week stretch in September and October, one of us was gone overnight at least one night every week. My kids were getting stressed out and always wondering who was going to get them on or off the bus. My relationship with my husband also took a beating. It’s hard to reconnect at the end of the day during a three-minute phone call.
So how is this a blessing? For my Type-A driven personality, it was a wake-up call. See, if my business had been growing and flourishing, I would have just kept my head down, working and pushing forward oblivious to what was happening to my relationships. That would have only caused further damage. So I backed off. I had a real heart-to-heart with my team about what was – and wasn’t – happening in our firm and what changes we would have to make. Fortunately, I have an amazing team and they knew what was happening and were not at all surprised and very willing to do what was necessary to get us through. We still continued our marketing and client activities, but I made some serious changes about how much I was working and how much travel I was willing to take on.
The result? First, everyone in my family is much happier. The kids don’t stress about our schedule and our home is calmer. Second, business has picked back up. The difference is I’m scheduling it more now on my terms and sticking to my new rules. Do I still want us to grow to be a million dollar firm? Absolutely! It just may take me a little longer to get there and we may have to find new ways to serve our clients. But this way I know my family will be there to celebrate with me.
So how can you find the blessing in the “No”s in your life?
1. Does what I want have the potential to be harmful? Could it harm your relationships or existing business? Is the “No” protecting you from yourself?
2. Is there something better? Sometimes we settle for good instead of pursuing the great God has for us.
3. Is the timing wrong? Sometimes what we want isn’t bad for us, it’s just not good right now.
4. What am I supposed to learn? Sometimes the “No” is so we learn perseverance, patience, trust, discernment, or whatever else He is trying to develop in us.
Have you had a No in your life? How did you find the blessing in it?