Wednesday, November 16, 2005

You’re Never Supposed To Let Them See You Sweat

In business, it's a common saying to "Never Let Them See You Sweat." But sometimes it's just plain hard to keep unemotional as you do business with someone. When you close a big deal, get permission to build a fantastic piece of art and get paid an unreal amount of money for the project, it's pretty hard to maintain professional composure. You want to jump up and down, hug the client and turn cartwheels. But we must maintain our dignity.

Can you imagine the reaction you'd get from the client? They might be horrified. They'd be thinking, "these people are just too excited, this must be the first big job they've ever sold, what have I done, how can I get out of this?"

So we pretend that this is commonplace, that it happens all the time, maybe missing a chance to really experience child-like joy. Then we get home and we can't really talk to friends and neighbors about the joy. We have to keep it safely bottled up, because if we let it out, they'll think we're bragging or gloating or showing off. Besides, they didn't know that we'd been up all night for months, sick with worry, wondering how we were going to make ends meet.

I remember the first time we sold a job and were paid a princely sum. It was a rare occurrence. We usually scratch from one job to the next and here we were facing a client who not only wanted what we could do, they weren't trying to cut our throats in the process. We're usually so used to "starving artists syndrome" that we immediately go into cut our price mode when the subject of cost is raised.

The client handed me a check for 50% of the job as if it were nothing, and maybe to him it was little or nothing. But to me, this was enough operating capital to keep our studio going for the 3 months it would take to build his windows, but it would also allow us to go on another three months. I walked away, electric pulses running through my body, maintaining my composure. But through my head, I kept thinking, "this is enough to buy a car, I could go out and pay cash for a car. He just gave me enough money to run my business and to buy a car!" (Okay, a cheap, used car, but still..)

I didn't do anything so foolish. There were materials to purchase for the job, inventory to replace, and tooling to maintain. As we got used to the funds, and they began to be used up, my excitement began to cool to a level where it was easy to maintain my composure. But, every now and then, I yearn for the freedom to really enjoy good things, good moments, to laugh and dance and express the pure joy of the moment of success.

One thing we have been able to do is thank God for the blessings. We often don't know what we did to gain a particular success. I like to say, "If I knew what I did, I could do it again." But we decieded a few years back, that the Lord was doing a lot in our behalf and we really ought to thank him. So we did, and found that the more we thanked him, the more we saw his hand in our lives.

One day, a client came in while I was teaching a class and we made a deal right then and he paid me and the deal was closed in such a short time during a busy moment that I didn't have time to get excited and be really grateful to the Lord. I figured I could thank him when the day was over and there were fewer people around. But when that time came, I found that the moment had passed. I hadn't taken the time to celebrate, so I missed out on that moment. Maybe that was good, because it taught Jeanne and I that even though we can't always let the world see our excitement, we can sure let God see it, but we can't be bashful about it. Either praise him or don't, but don't figure you can at a later time.

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