Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

Why are There No Cautions Before Smacking Face First into Invisible Walls?

Filed under: Work — by at 1:22 pm on Monday, January 30, 2012

Have you ever smacked face first into an invisible wall, landing on your butt and asking yourself, “Huh? Where did that come from?”

Last week while working with my business advisor, one assignment felt uncomfortable and I was squirming in my chair while doing it. She asked,  “Why do you find asking these few people whether or not they know what products and services you offer so uncomfortable? Are you not proud of what you do?”

That question touched something and I smacked face first into that invisible wall. Huh?  Why did that apparently harmless question trigger such a response? Why was the task so uncomfortable and icky?

Taking time to mull it over, two possible reasons came to mind:

The first seemed irrelevant, but being the first thing that came to mind, I explored further. Several years ago, a family member, after observing me do some work for him, asked, “Why should employers pay you more because you take longer to complete a task?” A fair question, but it stung and has stayed with me ever since.

Being self-employed for the past thirteen years, I nearly always under invoice when charging by the hour to compensate for any extra time I might have taken and to ensure my clients receive high value for their money. The higher my hourly fee, the more likely I am to under charge. Why should they pay more because I might take longer than someone else?

Although the question may be fair – from an employer’s or client’s perspective – it has undermined my self-confidence as a businesswoman, as a subject matter expert. When hitting the wall last week, I realized I could choose to continue allowing that moment be a defining one or I could choose to dismiss it as insignificant.

it also struck me that my business is a sole proprietorship; I am in charge. I can choose which advisors, mentors, coaches, and colleagues to work with. There are no silent partners calling the shots. Why was I letting that one remark have such control over me and my business?

The second reason that came to mind was asking such questions of the select few individuals was such foreign territory for me. I was concerned about annoying them, about coming across as a hard nosed business person or something I couldn’t put my finger on. Asking them that kind of question hadn’t even occurred to me before. Once my advisor gave me a phrase to use, the task became doable, even though I still felt uncomfortable in asking.

After receiving the very first response, I could see the value in asking the series of four questions. By the next morning I was ready to ask my entire subscriber list of 270 people. In fact, I couldn’t get to my desk fast enough!

Reflecting upon the experience, I now wonder: why do these invisible walls exist? How many others exist, limiting and confining me? How can they be discovered without smacking face first into them? Why are there no caution signs or warning bells?

How do you deal with invisible walls?

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Comment by Michele Van Doozer

January 30, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

Glenda! You may take longer to do things, but you bring an expertise that nobody else has! Yes, I can type faster than others, but we each have an expertise that we are hired for. Maybe an individual task doesn’t require all of our knowledge, but when you are hired it’s for all that you know (or admit you don’t and you research to learn), but don’t dismiss things just because you may take longer to get it done.
I’ve been working in the accessibility area for 11 years now, but I have learned enough to know that I don’t know much. It’s an area that’s changing quickly and we need more of you and your expertise to help us all understand it. Your telling us in plain English how to do things helps. So don’t be bothered by how much “time” it takes to do things. Bill people for your entire expertise, not just the individual task.


Comment by Gayle

January 30, 2012 @ 3:00 pm

Hi Glenda,
I think we all pretty much get smacked by invisible walls. Why? If they were visible, we would be aware of them! It is often something we are unaware of that trips us up. Once we have gotten smacked, we are very aware of it so it is no longer invisible. Then we can start to sort it out. Everyone has these experiences, smart people learn from them and grow personally and professionally, although it can be painful as you experienced. Some people choose not to face them and are tripped up on them the rest of their life. Like you, I don’t enjoy smacking into them and I’d rather work them though and make changes to avoid running into them. It can seem hard at the time, but it is worth the effort and life usually goes better as a result of working through these things. Gayle

Comment by Ute-s

January 30, 2012 @ 3:13 pm

Let me answer your first question with a rephrased question: Why should you charge by the hour at all? When I do something for a client, for example create an Office template, I know I usually need x hours, I normally charge y Euro per hour. So I do the math in my head: x * y = fixed price of z Euro for the complete template. Whether I need an hour longer because I try out an additional idea or need an hour less because I can re-use an existing object is my own business risk. And how could the client see, how many hours I spent at my desk for him? Does your grocer charge you by hour? No. So why not have a (secret) price list?

Comment by Glenda

January 30, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

“Bill people for your entire expertise, not just the individual task.” Bingo! Thank you, Michele, that works.

Comment by Barbara

January 30, 2012 @ 7:23 pm

For me, sometimes I just have to learn the hard way.

Comment by Maggie

January 30, 2012 @ 7:30 pm

Some of these invisible walls are common to specific industries. “Call reluctance,” for example, is a common occupational hazard of sales people (especially those of us who have ever done cold-calling).

One way to deal with any particular ‘wall’ is to look at what built it, and see a place where you could interrupt the process or create a different subconscious expectation. For ‘call reluctance,’ for example, the cure is to go ahead and make one more call after the one that ends unpleasantly, so as to set the subconscious expectation that ‘the next person I call will be nice.’

I like the suggestion a previous commenter made, to do your own figuring for the purpose of estimating, but to bill for the work, not the time. Sure, some industries have to bill by the hour (lawyers, for example), but others bill by the task (doctors) or by the result (real estate agents). You can choose how to do your billing.

A refinement for strengthening your business would be if you kept track of your estimates and compared them with your actual investment. If you think the job for Customer A will take 3 hours, when you’ve actually completed it you might log whether it took 2.5 or 3.25 — and let your next estimate be guided by these results.

Your expertise is tremendously valuable — and so is your obvious talent for innovation. So don’t sell yourself short.

Comment by Mary McD

January 31, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

my question is: will you share the four questions you were comfortable asking? 🙂 I’d love to learn them also as this is an area where many of us struggle, I think.

Yep, charge what you are worth, even if you are ‘afraid’ that they will balk. I recently stopped under-estimating on a job I had been requested to bid on – and they looked over the number and said, “OK, if that’s what you think it will take…” The only one who was ‘afraid’ of that big number was ME!

Comment by physicians list

February 16, 2012 @ 7:03 pm

all of us has individual experience of smacking our faces on that invisible wall but in different degree. what is similar to this situation though is that we all learn something after that.

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