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David FullerI was humbled this week – and that’s not a bad thing.

I was informed by a prospect that they were going to choose between our firm and another business coach. They chose the other business coach for a reason that made sense to them. They said that the other firm was smaller and they thought they would need us in the future after they learned more about business.

I immediately knew the communication mistake I had made. I had failed to listen. I had, in my mind, dismissed the prospect as too small and had rushed through the selling process.

Of course they would choose another company over us, even though after hearing about the company I still thought we would have provided better service for the client.

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It might not be a bad thing to lose clients who don’t fit the business model you’ve built. Unfortunately, many businesses hang on to unsuitable clients or customers long after their business has been adjusted to ensure long-term survival.

After hearing that this prospect picked a competitor, I was faced with the news that two anticipated larger projects might not materialize due to funding challenges.

This is what can happen when we grow too big for our britches. We become too proud or arrogant, failing to see that we’re not much different from the next guy sitting on the bench or the street corner. As a result, we tend to overlook those small things that contributed to our success in the past.

Being humbled isn’t a bad thing. It makes us realize that we’re human and we rely on the support of others.

Some people say that hitting the bottom or being kicked to the curb builds character. Indeed, it does. We’ve all been through rough patches over the years. While I never enjoyed enduring those periods, looking back, I can truly say that they challenged me to become a better person.

Right now, many people are being humbled and stressed financially, emotionally and even health wise. The COVID-19 pandemic is having a devastating economic impact on many medium and small businesses. While many organizations are struggling to make ends meet, their leaders are suffering in ways beyond comprehension to those people who have never experienced such a torment.

Many of us have been humbled by the choices made by our children, mistakes that have shown us up or embarrassing accidents beyond our control (though the time the tree fell on my kids’ trampoline a few years ago was preventable if I hadn’t used a chainsaw).

The current situation is frustrating for many people because of that lack of control. The fact that decisions are being made regulating who we can see and where we can go are difficult to understand, often when they’re made in the face of contrary evidence.

Perhaps during this time of humility, we need to realize that some of the greatest people who lived on our planet were humbled. Buddha couldn’t prevent his own death, Mahatma Gandhi walked barefoot and served his people, Jesus – whom Christians proclaim to be God – was born in a barn.

Feeling the pain of embarrassment and humiliation might not be comfortable, but if we can learn its valuable lessons, we might just become better people.

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award winning business coach and a partner in the firm Pivotleader Inc. Dave would be humbled if you could send him your thoughts to [email protected]

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