A Little Bit of Dread

scared childIn the twenty years when I was an accountant, I must have gone to a thousand meetings where I was meeting a potential new client. And there was always a little bit of dread. But then the client would turn up and I would go into my spiel which I had used in all the 999 other meetings and all would be well.

Often, at the end of the meeting, the client would report a little bit of dread too, some even saying things like “I’d rather go to the dentist than to the accountant!” but we’d both been brave enough to turn up to the meeting anyway, meeting our commitment to ourselves and to each other and guess what? It turned out alright in the end. Mostly, at the end of the first meeting, new clients would say “I feel so much better now” and this happened so often over the years that I would say – genuinely – “I know” because it became a truism.

The little bit of dread would cause me to look at my watch often in the moments leading up to the new client meeting and feel anxiety. Sometimes if it looked like they were not going to show up there was relief, although obviously this wasn’t what either party wanted to happen. The client wanted a new accountant and I wanted a new client, I was growing my business and they had a headache they wanted to outsource. So it would serve neither of us to be relieved. So how weird that I should feel this, no?

No. We all feel this. It still happens to this day when I have a new client. More often these days I am consumed by curiosity. What will my new client be like? What do they do for a living? Will we find rapport? Will we go on to work together? What will they create? And so on. But there’s often still that little bit of dread and a smidgen of optimism if it looks like they might be a DTU as one of my colleagues calls it. Didn’t Turn Up.

I reckon this is all perfectly normal, healthy even. It’s an appropriate dose of performance anxiety. Will I be good enough? And they say the time to give up anything is when you don’t feel nervous because it means you don’t care or you’ve gone onto auto pilot.

Do you have first meeting nerves? S’ok. You are perfectly normal.

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