This past Memorial Day at our family picnic, neighbor Pat Pannone shared a story. An architect who often gives away his professional expertise as a volunteer on projects, Pat at times is asked by fellow volunteers to do architectural work for them. About a year ago, one of them invited Pat to design a home renovation. It was a big job. The main reason for the renovation was to build a master suite. Pat was excited. A job this size was something he enjoyed doing, and the fees would more than address some expenses that came with his newborn son.
Pat looked at the house and asked to see the attic. It had a large vaulted ceiling and was used for storage. He said he’d be happy to design what they wanted, but, perhaps they should consider having the attic converted into the master suite, and save themselves a lot of money. He suggested that they move their bedroom furniture there for a couple of weeks just to test it out.
The result – they loved it. No need for major work. No need for an architect. No fee for Pat. I asked what he thought about that. His response? He felt great about it! He could have done what the client originally asked and designed the addition. Instead, he was creative and thoughtful.
How Fear Chases Out Creativity
Some people are afraid of losing fees, especially when the fee will put food on the table. Pat had other work, so maybe fear is too strong a word. But he definitely wanted that new project. Letting go of that desire for the sake of the client is a great example of low self-orientation.
Wally Bock’s blog “Drive out Fear” talks about fear from a team perspective. He says: “When people are scared, what they think about is what they’re scared of. While they’re doing that, they can’t think of other things, like how to do a better job…”
If Pat had been worried about making sure he got that fee, he might not have seen the easy, low cost solution for his client.
Putting the Client First Pays Off
Pat smiled when he finished telling us about the big job that got away. The story wasn’t over, he said. 4-5 months later, that same couple called him again. This time, they were buying a new property, and needed an architect for a job that would not be solved by moving furniture into an existing room. And they wanted Pat because they knew he would put them first.
How about you? Have you met people like Pat? Have you ever managed to set aside your own fear and unleash your creative energy?