As our desire for instant gratification bleeds into our working lives, insisting on reciprocating that effect within our business can lead to opposing results. One thing I’ve learned about and have come to experience first hand since working with Louise Fili, is that we don’t do everything with a sense of urgency. In fact, its not just that we don’t have to, but that, most of the time, we shouldn’t.
In the internet age, where everything is just a few clicks away and we’re constantly flooded by images and content, we’ve inadvertently developed a right now culture. With the resources at our disposal, you can now post, publish, like, reply, share, and respond quicker and easier than ever before. While we have come to appreciate the value in this, its expectation can yield negative results. We become impatient when pages take too long to load, we assume we did something wrong when our posts don’t immediately pick up traction, and we get annoyed by “late” responses.
With all of the being said, it sounds counter-intuitive for me to say that you shouldn’t work with a sense of urgency or develop an expectation of immediacy within your business. However, just because we’ve developed a right now culture doesn’t mean you have to conform to it. In fact, the very reason you grow impatient with these delays is because they’ve become habit, and by reciprocating that same sense of immediacy, your business, too, becomes habit. As a result of satisfying this habitual need, you unknowingly reduce your craft to that of commodity. In the same way that you expect to receive “likes” or a speedy response, your clients begin to respect your business in the same vein.
A man said to a Dervish: “Why do I not see you more often?” The Dervish replied, “Because the words ‘Why have you not seen me?’ are sweeter to my ear than the words ‘Why have you come again?’” —Mulla Jami, quoted in Idries Shah’s Caravan of Dreams, 1968
In the past, I had always assumed it was best to complete everything right away. The sooner I started, the sooner I’d be completed, and the sooner I could send it off to the client. I assumed this was what made clients happiest. While, yes, it can make clients happy, happy isn’t always the intent. Often times, in being so responsive to your clients, they begin to assume you can always work with such urgency and timeliness. The problem is, that usually isn’t the case so when you can’t fulfill this expectation you fall short of the client’s “needs.” Furthermore, the longer you instill such expectations, the more they’ll assume they can ask from you.
Many times at the office, I can complete tasks for clients in a day, but Louise may have me wait a few days or even a week before sending it. There are multiple reasons for this. One, it allows us to sit on the work. The quicker you send something, the higher the chances are to have glossed over a mistake. Second, it puts us in a greater position of control. If we were to send over every asset to clients immediately, they’d start to assume that as the norm and expect us to work with that sort of speed every time. Third, they wouldn’t value our time or our work quite the same. The assumption is that the longer a service takes to do, the more expensive or valuable it is. While that isn’t necessarily the case, when a client begins to think that what you do comes too easy, they’ll begin to question the value they’re paying for it.
“Absence diminishes minor passions and inflames great ones, as the wind douses a candle and fans a fire.” —La Rochefoucauld, 1613–1680
In the age of _right now, _ it’s easy to fall victim to reciprocating the habit of immediacy. The first step to losing that mindset is to recognize that you’re running a business, and the same expectations which rule the world of memes probably don’t directly translate to your practice. If you do everything right away for your clients, they’ll begin to unconsciously think that you’ll cater to their every need. Timeliness is an art—you must learn to know when and when not to show your face. Consistency builds reputation while scarcity drives value.