The other day, while out on my morning walk with the dog, I saw a turtle in the middle of the road. He was in his shell, not going anywhere. I went out, picked him up, and set him down over by the woods on the other side of the road. He popped his up, and looked around. I left him to head off into the woods, and walked on, feeling good about helping him out.
Later it occurred to me that maybe he was trying to get to the other side of the road. He was in the middle, not facing either way. I just assumed he was trying to get to the woods. Maybe he was on his way away from the woods.
This story made me think about how often we think we know what our customers or clients need. I know lots of folks who just assume based on some basic suggestions, that their clients need this, or their customers want that. In actuality, we don’t know.
The key is to really listen, observe, and understand.
Those of us in the knowledge and service industries can often get caught up in the “solving problems before we know what they are” syndrome. After using our expertise for so long, we can begin to jump to conclusions. But the fact is, we don’t really know where the turtle is headed, unless we take the time to stop and observe, before jumping in to help.
Our intentions are usually good, let’s just make sure we don’t set our clients back to where they started, because we weren’t sure where they were going.