November 1, 2018

This One Is A Bit Raw

Here’s a true story. It’s not a pretty one, but as I think about where and when I learned some life lessons, I remember some of the tough times. 

That day it felt like a punch in the gut.  I closed the door to my office and laid my forehead on the desk. It couldn’t be. But it was. 

I had just figured out that two of my former employees had lied thru their teeth as they each gave their two weeks notice. They said they didn’t know the other was leaving. Not only did they know, they were opening an office together less than a mile away.

I remember it well. Carlie said she was going to work in city nearby for a bigger opportunity. My intuition was screaming at me something wasn’t right.

Penny fidgeted the entire exit interview. At this point, I was still  trying to get a clue. I said, “I don’t care if you open up next door to this office. There’s more than enough to go around.” She said nothing, just tilted her head, as if to say how crazy would that be. Something was fishy. 

It wouldn’t leave my thoughts. I told my mentor about my confusion. He gave me a suggestion; one I hadn’t considered. “Business licenses are public record. Maybe you want to make a trip to town hall.” So I did. 

There it was. A business license issued to my soon to be former employees. I was speechless.

I scribbled the address on a piece of scrap paper. I walked to my car in disbelief. I drove in a fog to look for the building. I couldn’t find it. I’ve been in this neighborhood for years, the office must be on the other side of town. I am numb except for the ache in my heart. It’s all gonna be okay, I tell myself. I believe in the Law of Creation: There is no competition only creation.

A day or two later, I’m moving on. It’s a new month and we are on to new horizons. I tell my loyal assistant, the lovely Juliana, that it’s such a beautiful day I’m going to walk over to drop the rent check. As she hands me the address, my jaw drops. It’s the same address from the business license. They are one block away, located in my landlord’s other building. 

The short walk only fuels my fire. As I hand over my rent check I ask, “Hey do you have some new tenants in the building? Massage therapists?” The agent smiles, “Yes! 3rd floor.” I don’t know what you would do in this moment, but I knew what I was going to do. I walked up the steps to the third floor. 

As I stood in front of the door, another dagger. The name of the new clinic was engraved on a door plate and attached to the door. Now let me explain, in the 1990’s it used to take a week -at least- to get a door plate engraved. This told me the move was premeditated. Very premeditated. 

I knock, pause and walk in. The office is completely furnished: couch, front desk, plants. I stand still taking it all in. Penny comes around the corner with a smile that quickly turns into a scowl, “What are you doing here?” I can be tough, so I blurt out, “I thought you may want to show me around.” Penny, a bit of an intimidator herself spits back, “No, you’re not welcome here. I want you to leave.” After a 3-5 second stare off, I leave.

The walk back to my office is a blur. I tell sweet Juliana I’m going to need a few minutes. I close the door to my office and put my head on the desk. What had I done that motivated these two people to be so sneaky? Betrayed. Disliked. Unappreciated. Hurt. Down two experienced staff members. Entrepreneurship is a full contact sport.

Eventually, I did pick my head up off the desk. Eventually, I hired on more talented therapists. The numbers went down for a couple of weeks, but then the number went right back to normal. Eventually, I had 16 happy employees. The Law of Creation says there is no competition, only creation. I got my chance to really hold on to that principle. They couldn’t take anything away from me. But it still hurt.

Your clients are on your table for a reason. Either you have a gift for them (healing, acceptance, comfort) or they have a gift for you. (insight, message, real life example) No one can interrupt that flow. Some clients may go away, but if they do, it was their time to leave giving you room to accept a new client who needs you.

All the best in your practice. Keep up the great work.

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