I used to overwhelm clients and students with information and options, just in case they only saw me ‘this time’, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that people don’t learn everything in one go! How many things did you learn, perfectly, the first time you tried it? Even the most talented people have to practice to turn that talent into a skill. If it’s something they love, they will spend a lifetime on going deeper, connecting ideas, creating new possibilities, and probably sharing some of it with others. I’m told the time required to become an expert in anything is around ten thousand hours!
How many times have you read something, and thought “That was brilliant, I now understand xyz completely” or “That was rubbish, why would anyone bother with it?” only to come back to it years later and get something much more, or completely different, from the information? Because you’re different. Because you have other experiences to link it up to. And that’s just a single source of ideas, perceived facts, or how to’s.
No one lives even a decade without experiencing thousands of things (positive and useful, or otherwise!) Ideas embed, meanings develop, and your conscious mind, physical body, and spiritual form, all build on past learnings. Occasionally something shifts, or even shatters, a belief. New ideas create new perspectives. And if we’re lucky some of other people’s wisdom rubs off as we read, attend classes, watch webinars, or have discussions with other people. And that was how it was last century. (Yes, gulp.) Now we live in an environment that floods us with information. New studies on nutrition come out, assorted theories on how the universe works, medical techniques alter, social media fads, political crises, and a thousand other things bombard us each week. And we need help to make sense of it, to maintain our balance and well-being in the overload – even though we know something about well-being (if you’re reading this, probably quite a lot!)
And yet we think that what has taken us all that time to learn, integrate and become proficient in, or if we’ve been using it a while, developed expertise in, can be given to clients in one workshop, a few therapy or coaching sessions, a single book, a series of massages. And, oh dear, they’ve been to another class on the same topic, seen another practitioner, read someone else’s book, used someone else’s products, so of course they don’t need what I offer any more. How many books on the SAME topic are on your shelves/ How many exercise/yoga classes have you taken? Can you ever say ‘that’s enough’ I don’t need to exercise any more? Hardly. How many webinars have you watched drip feeding information on building your business – most of which you probably didn’t implement but over time the concepts have built up and become useful? How many times have you read or heard something and suddenly remembered that you already knew it but weren’t doing anything with it? How many layers has your personal therapeutic or spiritual journey worked through? Are you still hungry for information, ideas, support, experiences, nurturing, even time out? Probably all of them, at different times. ONCE isn’t enough. If it’s good, you want more. What makes you think your clients are any different and there’s too much competition for you to get clients? GET OVER IT!
No matter how many other therapists/teachers/classes your clients go to over the years, if they come to you, YOU are what they need at this time. People might come to you for help at the beginning of their journey, somewhere in the middle, or to confirm and embed what they think they know, or simple maintenance. They WILL get value from what you do, at any point. If someone is drawn to you, it’s for a reason. Help them take the next step in whatever way they are ready to do FOR NOW. Helping people shift can cause a certain amount of overwhelm, but if you manage that well, they are more likely to keep moving rather than find it all too hard.
At a practical level, you can make that easier for them by chunking information down to what they are ready to absorb. That means getting an idea on where they are at the beginning, and what they can usefully take on board at this time. Next week or next year, what that is will probably be very different. Don’t expect people to take on all the things you talk about at the time, even if they take notes. It might be very useful to have some form of resource pack, which might include books/bound sets of notes/e-courses/CDs or DVDs/computer files to download/videos to watch etc so you can point them to a particular section to look at afterwards. I’d avoid individual page handouts – a couple of physical sheets of paper are more likely to get lost, crumpled or grotty on the way home, and may never be used – unless you provide a ring binder or similar, and add information at each session.
Some people will probably spend their lives pecking up information from all over and not implementing it. Others will love what you do and be loyal for life. Others will stay for a little while, and leave for the next thing they need – you really can’t be all things to all people. No, you can’t. It’s fine. After all, if they aren’t ready for what you offer, they simply aren’t your ideal client, for now anyway. And in fact referring people on may be the healthiest option for both parties, especially if you have a strong referral circle that will recommend people you love to work with. Pay it forward. You’ll get much more back. Some clients may come back when they’re ready, or refer someone else, or just flounder without you, but it’s THEIR journey. Your journey is finding the best people to work with – the ones that you love to work with and to whom you can make a real difference, at this time. They’ll come, as long as they understand your value to them. That starts with you knowing your value. And then getting that message out.
Even if you’ve read this article before, or other related articles by a range of people, you are likely to have really only focused on one bit. That’s fine. That’s your brain’s filter system for useful stuff, familiar stuff, ready to learn now stuff. Your clients and potential clients will do the same with what you offer them.
(Check out the articles on ‘finding/reaching your ideal client’ by Jen Tiller, Cheryl-lya Broadfoot, Kate Codrington and others in the Healerzone Academy.)
Founder of Healerzone
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