If you've ever watched the movie Office Space you may remember this scene.
It's rough for Milton isn't it?
Interestingly enough, when you start your own venture, you'll encounter a similar problem. If you decide to strike off on your own, you'll be joining the ranks of those who have made a different choice and there will be people who are impressed by what you do. Some will want to meet you for coffee, some will want to work with you, and many will contact you via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
It's important to pay close attention to how often you're serving and how often you're eating. If you spend all your time serving, you'll probably feel great, but you'll be hungry. If you spend all your time eating you'll be full, but feel unfullfilled. In business this means making sure you balance the time that you spend helping and supporting others with the time that you spend promoting your services, selling, and working with your clients. It's very tempting when you first get started to run around taking every meeting you can, but eventually you get tired and sometimes your clients don't get served at all.
So what do you do to make sure you don't end up like Milton?
1. Track yourself- Ask yourself at the end of the day how many hours you spent doing work for paying clients and how many hours you spent taking meetings with new people and helping others. If you did one more than the other, ask yourself how you can tweak your day to achieve a better balance.
2. Manage your own expectations- When you give something to someone and it truly is a gift, you cannot have any expectations. It's now in the hands of karma. If you give things with a design in mind that the other person doesn't know about, then both of you will be disappointed when that outcome doesn't come to fruition. Gifts are gifts, not tactics. Only give if you are truly giving a gift.
3. Don't be afraid to ask for what you need- If you need to make money, then let your referral partners and friends know that you need to make money. If you need advice, let your network know you are looking for advice. Don't try to hide what you need, because people will always find out. Be up front. Ask for the cake.
We all face times in our lives when we worry that we are not doing enough for others, but we rarely ask if we are doing enough for ourselves. Conversely we also face times when we are doing great for ourselves, but fail to make an effort to do enough for others.
Think of it this way:
The more successful you become, the more you can give.
If you have a healthy balance of serving and eating, you'll always have plenty for everyone.
Now go get that slice before it's gone.