Some days you get home and just feel as though your brain is in meltdown.
Today was one of those days.
My first client today is a lovely lady who I visit once a month. The main aim is to keep her up to date on dealing with her paperwork and supporting her to navigate a complicated financial situation and also sorting out care for her elderly relative. Today’s challenge was to keep her on track.
Due to a family health scare, her mind was understandably elsewhere. As usual I started by asking her what tasks were top of her priority list, and started working on these.
The first one was easy and soon dealt with. The other was a bit more tricky. It involved confirming a seat on a flight and printing a boarding pass. Normally this is quite straight forward, however a strange alert came up when I tried to reserve the seat. I rang the number on the site and soon all was sorted. I then went back in to print off the boarding pass. This time it showed the seats I had booked but still wouldn’t let me pass the seat reservation stage. Alarm bells started ringing. My client then recalled an email she had received the day before saying that the flight had been cancelled. She had dismissed it as a scam email as the the email address didn’t look correct and there were numerous typing errors throughout the email. Added to the fact that we could still go ahead and log on to confirm the flight, with no mention of cancellation, it was put down to being a scam.
We found another phone number and rang it. This took us through to a a customer service centre and a lovely chap who confirmed that the flight had been cancelled and apologised that he could not rebook the ticket for the time that was needed. He also took on board that the email looked fake, and gully explained the reason for the cancellation. Not much help for my client who was travelling for work, and could not rebook to a different destination. I was more taken back by the fact that one part of the same company did not know that the flight had been cancelled.
After this the rest of the tasks were soon dealt with and I was soon on my way to my next meeting.
This I knew would be more challenging.
I have a mentee who is just starting up a business. The business idea is sound, and my mentee has a lot of experience in the area. But my mentee is an over-thinker. If any scrap of doubt can creep in, it will. Our first meeting was quite intense – my mentee swinging from complete confidence to giving up her dream in the space of every twenty minutes or so.
This meeting was to discuss the content for her new website. I had previously had a panicked telephone call the week before as my mentee became over anxious about what she was writing and again felt like giving up. Twenty minutes later I had managed to calm her down and get her back on track. It was her desire to get everything right first time that was holding her back. And if she couldn’t think of the perfect thing first time then she seemed to go into a spin and start questioning everything.
So it is fair to say that I was going to this meeting with a little trepidation. My mentee was all smiles and looking relaxed when I arrived. She produced the pagers of copy for her website and I started reading. It was all good stuff – covered everything it needed to, from the background of the company to services and charges.
I was half way through the first page when it started. A barage of questions and doubts and ‘is this right?, or should I change this?’ To be honest I really wanted to shout out ‘will you shut up and let me read?!’, but I thought better of it – the genteel patrons of a Waitrose coffee shop probably wouldn’t survive it.
By this point in the day I was tired and trying to concentrate on what I was reading, whilst being asked questions about sections I hadn’t read yet, just didn’t work. I stopped what I was doing. My brain stopped. I just stared at my mentee – paralysed by the amount of things I was being asked to do and not managing any of it.
A few moments later I was back in the room. Putting my game face on and getting my mentee to calm down. We calmly went through each area she was having issues with and came up with alternative wording, or put her fears to rest. An hour and half later we said goodbye and went our separate ways.
When I got home I just felt exhausted. My brain felt soft and mushy. I looked at the kettle – I knew what it did but had no idea how to use it. How could this have happened to me? I have had days where I have been pulled in various different directions by different clients (and the same ones!) and had to field multiple interruptions, but never had I felt like this. Part of me wanted to feel angry at my mentee. Surely if she has this amount of doubt on the finer points of her business then she won’t be able to sustain the business. Should I tell her to stop aiming for her dreams and go an get a job? But her background and experience says differently. And the business idea she has is really good.
I resolved to put it down to experience. I can’t expect all mentees, or clients, to be calm and not sweat the small stuff. Or to realise that things can usually be changed in the future – websites updated when the perfect wording comes to mind, or business cards and flyers changed when the first batch runs out. I just need to find a better way of dealing with this situation in the future.
My biggest issue now was to tend to my mushed brain and get myself back on track. A task which involved something slightly stronger than a cup of tea.