wake-up call

Got a timely wake-up call yesterday, in the form of losing a contract bid for a major job. Timely, in that I'd been getting a little cocky about a string of wins and didn't see this one coming. Ouch - especially since I was the incumbent. The universe's way of keeping me grounded, it seems.

So after a few minutes of fussing, cussing and blaming, I settled down and started journaling. Here's where I am so far...

I got beat out by a new comer – a 1 (2?) person consulting 8a with government-specific creds and great packaging. I am ultimately very competitive. I hate getting beat out. But this little firm beat me, fair and square. On image, at least. Maybe on competence and results, maybe not. But me smugly “knowing” that they client won’t get as good a result as they would with me does not mitigate the fact that I did not get this contract.

The real question for me now is am I going to really jump in here to compete in a way that will win biz? I know what to do: redo my business website, be crystal clear on what I offer to whom, and compete. Really compete. Not this half-hearted uncommitted approach I’ve been taking. My client work is whole-hearted and totally committed - my effort to "show up fully" in this market is not.

Doing is not the issue. What do I want? It means making a conscious choice. I’m at a turning point, actually. Bite the bullet and compete or don’t. But be very clear I have a choice. Instead of feeling bad or pointing fingers, this is all about me stepping up (or not), and then being accountable for my decision. And being at peace with it. In hindsight, I did see this coming - and by this, I mean a turning point, not the smaller "this" of losing a bid. I just didn't want to deal with it.

This is a wake up call. It’s time to decide. Consider. Choose. Then act.

Losing this bid could be the best outcome, actually. It asks me to pay attention. To stand up and stop playing small, making due with what lands in my lap. It’s not a sustainable strategy for getting what I want: serenity, peace, contentment and joy.

What I'm not clear on yet is the right choice for me now. I need to sit with this. Check in with myself and the small circle of wise mentors and supporters I've learned to both trust and believe. Maybe this is just part of my transition strategy. Could I tolerate it more if I saw it as a means to an end? I know I don’t want to be a big federal contracting firm – if I did, I would be acting to do so.

But can I be successful “enough” to get what I want: the platform and means to other things? Can I make enough of a living and really help my clients, without eating up all of my time or creative juice, to engage enough with the book arts (learn,  create, build relationships) to eventually sell my work, have a studio and teach?