Everyone comes into your Life with a reason. They may not always be the most welcome influences in your Life when they do arrive. But they are there to teach you something__provided you are open to learn your lessons from them!
Some years ago, a marquee client’s manager had an intense dislike for me personally. My Firm was a service provider for his company for over 8 years at that time. Over this time, his company’s founder and CEO and I had established a remarkable personal rapport and professional, working relationship. When he came on board, his boss, the CEO asked him to take all “direction and support” from me in managing ongoing corporate affairs, executing pending assignments and formulating new strategies for their company. Maybe it was the word “direction” that his boss used which ticked off the manager. Maybe it was hands-on my working style. Whatever it was, from day one, he made his dislike for me known explicitly. He began by barring me from meeting the CEO one-on-one. He set in place a ridiculous process of recording deviations for the flimsiest of reasons__ranging from delays in arriving for meetings called with no notice or inability to manage delivery by other partners, who were independent vendors or service providers to his company, just as we were. For the record, our job did not include managing their delivery, though their delivery did impact our work! For each deviation he so recorded, he enforced a financial penalty, which were not envisaged per our Service Legal Agreement with his company. Over a few months, it became clear that his actions were driven by an agenda to cause me personal grief. He was, at the same, extremely courteous with my other team members who were co-owning his company’s engagement alongside me. For whatever reason, perhaps misplaced righteousness, I refused to seek an engagement review with the CEO. Instead, I sat down to do a review of how we were working as a Firm__what value we were delivering and how happy we were doing what we were mandated to do by our clients. This manager’s actions, the ignominy and suffering that followed, forced me to rethink every single aspect of our Firm’s portfolio of services, our delivery model, our client-wise billings and profitability. To our surprise, though it should never have been surprising, we discovered that our entire service strategy was flawed. Every client relationship was unprofitable. We were bleeding__billing our clients far, far less than what it cost us to deliver them the unmatched service that we always did. When we looked at the numbers, in the backdrop of our already debt-laden balance sheet, we realized we were going nowhere from a business point of view. On the other hand, I was also personally not happy with delivering the services we were offering clients. This realization led to a complete retooling of our services, our delivery model and our client portfolio. It included, of course, exiting non-profitable client relationships, beginning with this marquee client. This led to a virtual reinvention of our Firm. A version 2.0 is you like! Over the years, we have built a simpler delivery model that creates exceptional value for our clients, gives us immense joy in delivering it, and which is financially profitable too. Our legacy problems remain, but we don’t make losses with our client relationships anymore.
When I look back, I realize that the antagonistic manager’s presence in my Life was key to my transformation as a businessman, a professional and as an individual. That he was indeed there with a reason. He has since moved to live in the United States. While visiting there a couple of years ago, I called him up and profusely thanked him for helping me along, perhaps unwittingly, my Life’s journey. He gracefully welcomed my gesture to reach out. Whenever I think of how far I have come in Life, I always say a silent prayer of gratitude to that manager. Without him, I realize, I wouldn’t be the way I am today __ happy and peaceful__despite the circumstances!
If you have someone in your Life right now, whose presence you question or whose influence you resist, sit back and look at this person differently. Ask yourself what you can learn from this person. You will then realize that she or he is there with a reason!