Ruthless (Issue 744)

In which we are reminded that we can open up space and boost our productivity by purging “sentimental favorite” clients that provide little value so we can focus on the ones we can grow.

“Hi, Nick,” began the email from my cousin. “Thanks for the details of your new home – it sounds as if you’ve found a really nice property which is very central. I don’t envy you unpacking your boxes – I hope your condo has good cupboard space & that you were able to be ruthless with your selections of furniture before you moved.”

Antique Store ChairsHow kind of her to write. I paused, briefly, to consider all possible meanings of her word, “ruthless.”

The condo to which she refers is the first floor of a late 19th Century city house into which we’ve just moved. It’s narrow – a single room’s width, roughly 15 feet wide – and deep. Parlor in the front, then dining room, then kitchen, then an informal sitting room, and bedrooms and bathroom at the back.

Stepping into the parlor from the street when we first looked at the property was, really, quite uplifting. 15-foot ceilings, tall windows through which the sun streamed in the afternoon, brightly reflected by the cream yellow walls and white trim, fireplace with original mantle, parquet wood tile floors, original (and heavy!) floor-to-ceiling pocket doors separating the rooms.  Beautiful.

All hidden now. The parlor and dining room are dark, the sun kept out by the mattresses standing against them, only a narrow, uneven path connecting the front door to the kitchen. The remaining space is filled with furniture, tightly packed, sometimes piece on top of piece, six feet, even eight feet high. Armoires and chests of drawers side by side with chairs piled with boxes of who-knows-what at this point, turned this way and that to make room for the dining room table over here and the formerly dining room sideboard over there. Odd arms of dried flowers flop haphazardly from the tops of piles as their supporting vases tip this way or that, depending on when they arrived.

Were this only All Hallows Eve… under a full moon, this could pass for a long-abandoned deep woods antique store through which ghosts move easily among the disjointed remnants of former lives.

Ruthless. It’s a good word: Thick skinned, remorseless, unsympathetic, unsparing, hard-hearted.

And, we weren’t.

Each piece of the furniture represented an important connection for us, memories from our previous house or houses of preceding generations. Although we parted with many pieces before we left our “moved from” house, we were not ruthless enough. We carried too much with us. And, now, we’re paralyzed.

To move forward….. to move at all, in the front rooms…. we have to let go of many more sentimental favorites and concentrate our efforts on the few essential pieces around which we’ll build our future lives.

So it can be with portfolios of clients. All of us, may I guess, carry too many sentimental favorites that sap our time and energy away from the accounts and prospects around which we could build our future sales.

Best to purge early, purge deep, and purge often. Otherwise, the sentimental favorites become just so many antiques around which we have to tread on a narrow path to reach our intended destination.

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