Recently one of my clients shared she feels the need to have all the answers in work situations, especially with clients.
This pressure to always have the right answer at the ready is causing a lot of stress—not to mention the massive preparation it requires for any client interaction.
And even with all that prep time, she can’t be sure she’s thought of every possible question, scenario, and problem that might arise.
Self-induced stress + self-imposed pressure = self-sabotage
My client readily admits the pressure and stress is largely self-induced. It’s amazing what we do to ourselves. How we turn ourselves inside out. How we create conditions ripe for self-sabotage.
There’s a difference between adequate preparation and obsessively trying to anticipate and control every possible variable. Having to have all the answers is trying to control the uncontrollables.
Because there’s simply no way you can have all the answers. No amount of preparation puts any of us beyond being stumped by a particularly tough question. Or even just one we hadn’t thought to prepare for.
Making a distinction
Back to my client. Her need to have all the answers was creating too much stress and pressure in her life. So we worked on a powerful distinction: I have to have all the answers versus I’m resourceful.
My client is smart and savvy and has years of work and life experience backing up her expertise. If she doesn’t know the answer, she’s quite adept at figuring it out or finding someone who does know. If she doesn’t have the solution at her fingertips, she works with her team to come up with one.
So there’s no doubt my client is incredibly resourceful.
Off balance versus centered
Just imagine how different to go into a client meeting feeling resourceful versus feeling like you’d better have all the answers—or else.
Feeling resourceful offers ease and calm. It comes with confidence and composure. On the other hand, having to have all the answers is fraught with tension, worry, and anxiety. The pressure is most certainly on. The stress is dialed up.
I have to have all the answers versus I’m resourceful. Which would you choose?