Is the Answer No, Slow, or Go?

Yesterday I was reminded of a saying that all prayers are answered, but the answer isn’t always “yes.”

I have been reinventing myself, and my coaching practice, as I become more and more authentic. This reinvention has led to the need for a new branding for my business and a new website.

I had talked to a few different people about doing this work for me, but nothing was resonating. Then this past Sunday I saw a website that I really liked, and was similar to what I envisioned for my site. At the bottom of the home page was a link to the company that had designed the website, so I clicked it.

I was impressed with the company’s mission and approach. They want to work with people (like me) who want to make a difference in the world. There was no pricing info, but I knew the website I liked was owned by a sole practitioner like me, so I hoped the cost would not be prohibited.

I was really excited; this felt right to me. Since it was Sunday I couldn’t call the company, so I sent an email asking to schedule the free consultation they offered.

Getting my branding and website redesigned are prerequisites to some other things I want to do in my practice (internet radio show, publishing a book). I was anxious about getting in touch with the web design company. So Monday morning I also called the company to request the free consultation.

I reached an automated voice message system, and left a message. I was little disconcerted that I didn’t get a real person, or even a real voice, and started to feel some misgivings. Six hours later I had not gotten a response to my email or my phone call. The misgivings became larger.  I called again and left another message saying that I really wanted to work with them and hoped they would call me back.

Within half an hour I received a return call from a live person, and we scheduled a 15 to 20-minute Skype session for a few days later.

When the time arrived for the Skype call, I was at my computer and online on Skype, but the web company representative was not; his status was “offline.” I waited a few minutes and messaged him on Skype. I waited a few more minutes and sent him an urgent email. I waited a few more minutes (now halfway through the time we had set aside to meet) and called the only phone number I had – the automated voice – and left a message.

I waited. Nothing. Finally, when it was 30 minutes past the scheduled meeting time, which I had double-checked in the confirmation email from the company, I gave up. I sent another email expressing my disappointment in the meeting not taking place, as well as my frustration with not having a phone number that reached a real person (or at least that person’s direct voice mail). I went back to my regularly scheduled activities, which included going for a walk.

On my walk I went through a series of emotions, and thoughts, about the situation with the web design company. I was really disappointed because based on other sites they had done I felt that they were exactly what I was looking for. On the other hand, I had not always had a great experience with web designers before, and wanted to pay attention to messages that this company might not be the right fit for me. I sometimes allow my excitement to cause me to overlook the potential problems, and didn’t want to repeat that mistake.

Then I remembered something I had once been told about the way prayers are answered. Sometimes the answer is “no,” sometimes the answer is “slow,” and sometimes the answer is “go.”

What was the answer in this case?

Well, I could say for certain that it wasn’t “go” (or “yes.”) Things were not falling effortlessly into place.

So the choice was between “no” and “slow.”

There was a message in all these roadblocks I was encountering. My immediate interpretation of the roadblocks was that I was not meant to work with this company. A “no.” But what if the real message was that I needed to develop more patience? Patience has never been my strong suit, and certainly I could use more of it. This would be an answer of “slow.”

It was true that I had been feeling a real sense of urgency about getting the branding and web redesign underway. Did I really need to be in such a hurry? On the other hand, the difficulty in getting in touch with individuals in this company was also information I needed to pay attention to. I knew that if I decided to work with them, this would not be acceptable to me.

In the end, I saw that I still didn’t have enough information to know if it was a “no” or a “slow.” I didn’t know why the meeting hadn’t taken place. I was open to gathering more information, with my eyes wide open, before making a decision.

This situation was a good reminder that a roadblock doesn’t always mean to find another path (although frequently that is the message). Sometimes there needs to be a delay. Often the reason a delay is necessary doesn’t become clear until sometime later when we can look back and put it in context.

Since it isn’t always clear in the moment which way to interpret a roadblock, it pays to have patience, pay attention to what happens next, and be open to whatever the answer may be.

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