“What’ll ya have, Sweetie?”
These words once evoked sheer terror, but now fulfill my dreams.
A while back, when I was just starting to go out to eat, I came across this restaurant. It was exciting. Here is was, a place that could give me any kind of food I wanted.
So I opened the door and went in.
In fact, I was really hungry–actually feeling quite desperate–and would just about eat anything. I didn’t care what it was, as long as it filled my stomach. The waitress came to the table and asked me what I wanted to order. And I just stared at the menu. I couldn’t make up my mind. I mean, if I ordered the spinach omelet, then that would mean that I wouldn’t be able to eat the Cobb salad, or the Hawaiian Cheeseburger. The trouble was, I was afraid to narrow down my choice, because then it would mean cutting out the rest of the menu. And what if I was missing something really good, like a grilled cheese sandwich, or baked cod with corn?
However, if I didn’t tell the waitress exactly what I wanted, she wouldn’t be able to bring it to my table, and then I wouldn’t get to eat and satisfy my needs. It was all so overwhelming. In fact, I had a strong urge to just give it up and leave the restaurant, and commit myself to never eat out again. I thought perhaps that I’d be better off at one of those “All-you-can-eat” buffets, where I could just load my plate with lots of everything. But the only problem with that was the food was never as good, and I always ended up overindulging and feeling even more unsatisfied than when I entered. But I knew that if I left now, I’d feel even worse, and that I had to give this a chance.
So what happened?
Well, first I couldn’t make a decision, so I stalled and continued to nibble on the bread. And although it was filling, it wasn’t very satisfying. And after a while, I really needed something more. So, afraid to limit my options, I ordered one of everything.
It took a long time for the kitchen to prepare it all, and by the time it all arrived at the table, most of it was cold and tasteless anyway-very unsatisfying. Not only that, but there wasn’t enough room on the table for it all and it was hard to organize and give each meal the attention that was needed. And because there was so much, I could only take a few bites here and there and I wasn’t really able to enjoy any of it. And after all that, I wasted so much time and money that I really didn’t get my value.
I really began to hate the process of going out and finding something to eat. It was so frustrating and it always felt like I was going nowhere and spinning my wheels.
I realized that I needed to start acting differently and begin making clear choices. And the next time I planned to go out and get food, I spent a little time beforehand thinking about what it was that I really enjoyed eating. What dish would I be able to give deep focus and attention to, savor each bite, and know at the end that I had ordered the right meal.
This time, when I entered the restaurant, I knew exactly what I wanted. It was a Ruben, on lightly toasted rye bread, with the cheese hot and bubbly, a side of onion rings and an iced tea, unsweetened. By being super clear and specific about what I wanted to eat, the waitress was able to quickly go to the kitchen, convey my desire clearly to the cooks where they would easily prepare it and get it off to my table, nice and hot.
And then I could really enjoy my meal.
Not only that, but then every time I walked in, the waitress knew ahead of time what I wanted and would get it going before I even sat down.
Now, I love going to eat there. Where the dining experience used to be frustrating and felt like an endless struggle, now it’s easy and fun.
The added perk about all this was that this didn’t have to be the one and only time that I could order from the menu and ask for a meal. I wasn’t locked in to eating only Rubens for the rest of my life. If I wanted to, I could ask for the bowl of tomato soup instead, or a butt steak with onions. It could be different or the same. The important thing was that I listened to what I really was needing to connect with, what dish was the best dish for that moment. And then I went out there and claimed it for myself.
It’s like declaring your niche.
Many coaches out there (you may be one of them) are nervous about niches and target audiences. But just like the diner, once you declare who it is that you really want to work with, then it’s much easier to find your clients and serve them to you on a plate… with cheese bubbling hot… whatever that means.