This is not the first time I have received a call from the wife of… who wants to talk and make an appointment for her husband.
“I read about you on your website,” she says, “I saw that you consult managers in the business world and also come from a clinical psychology background and it sounds like it answers exactly what he needs, personal but also business and management consulting.” True, I replied and was surprised how precise she was in her distinction because, in my consulting processes with managers, that’s exactly what I do, I combine the two worlds of psychology: the personal one and the business-managerial one.
“My husband is an entrepreneur” she adds, “the company is growing at a fast pace, but they seem to be losing a bit of control of managing its growth, however, this is not the only part of the problem, the other one is what is happening with him at home and if this continues, I’m concerned about our marriage. He needs help!”
“And he’s interested in that?”, I ask, trying to understand if he sees the need for it. “Yes!” she replies, “He asked me to help him search”
So it is true that in classic psychology, the client is the one who should create the connection and initiate the first steps in order to be committed to the process, but in the entrepreneurial world, things do not always go in the right order. I discovered that although not going the traditional way, this can actually work, and it’s not surprising. One, because entrepreneurs do not always have the references and the time required to search for a suitable professional for this type of process, and two, because many times the relationship pays the price of the entrepreneurship. The spouse, being the closest, is the first to raise a flag (and the same for the opposite situation where the woman is the entrepreneur).
He arrived at the meeting at the appointed time and the hour-and-a-half flew by. He shared a lot. We did a general overview, we went through the various interfaces the business faces and the most challenging ones. We examined the business goals, the strategy and everything that is required to get an overall picture of the business operation. It is always easier to talk about the business and the challenges it poses than talk about the deeper layers, the personal feelings that accompany it, the anxieties, the fears, the self-worth that rises and falls in direct relation to successes and failures, and the whole range of feelings and thoughts that govern entrepreneurs behind the operational scenes.
“I didn’t sleep at night,” he shared, “an inaccurate estimate we made cost us another two million Shekels, on top of the amount we had already borrowed and there was nowhere to pay the difference. The next day I’m sitting in a cafe, with a high-tech tycoon next to me, and I think to myself, how is that that he was so successful, and it even seems to have gone quite easily for him, and for me, everything is such a hard struggle…” And the cracks slowly open, and it reveals more depth, touching places that he did not allow himself to reveal in front of anyone around him. I’m familiar with this concern to protect employees from feeling the upheaval that the company is going through, the responsibility to keep the investors’ trust, the desire to encourage the partner and in the midst of all this storm, also to return home and try to be there for his wife and kids. But he is not really there with them and they sense it. Faced with an inner feeling of a deep abyss opening up inside him, he hopes to succeed in pretending “business as usual”.
With a consulting partner, you are never alone.