The definition of the word “ideal” is a.) satisfying one’s conception of what is perfect, b.) existing only in the imagination. The opposite of the word ideal is “real.”
Last I checked, I didn’t marry an ideal husband. Our two daughters aren’t ideal either. I don’t have a single ideal friend…but lots of really good ones. I have, however, had an ideal meal…it was last week in Toronto, and it was perfection.
Things may be ideal, but people aren’t.
Neither am I.
And yet this notion of an ideal client (also called dreamies, bluebird clients) is applauded in our industry.
We treat these mythical creatures like they’re the path to success and satisfaction. They aren’t real, they’re avatars…and yet in subtle, insidious ways, they make decisions for us about how we run our businesses.
Over time, we begin to operate our businesses on a bias. As tiny prejudices begin to feed our notion of an ideal client, something inside us shifts. We cease to celebrate the uniqueness of our clients and form unrealistic expectations for them instead.
Expectations are the thief of joy, and soon we become disenchanted with our business because we’re disenchanted with the clients.
We’ve become too big in our own picture.
We’ve begun to see clients as a means of OUR self-expression, not art in and of themselves.
Early in business, I slid down this slippery slope. I left a PT career I adored to weigh down moments and memories for my clients and nearly sacrificed that beautiful purpose on the altar of the ideal client.
We are not the hero of the stories we’re telling, friends. Let’s hold our notion of an ideal client up to the light. What unfair expectations are we leveraging on our clients? In what ways do we hold them to higher ideals than we hold ourselves?
Our clients are inherently valuable. Our art adds no worth to their existing value.