Consulting Skill: Focus on the Client

consulting skill
Consulting Skill: Focus on the Client

The 1998 baseball season was the most exciting season that I can remember.  Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire went head-to-head in a home run race that ended with them both breaking Roger Maris’ 37-year old single-season record of 61 homers.  Sosa hit 64 home runs and McGuire bested that with 70.

Most of us are familiar with the scandals of performance-enhancing drugs by both of them, a corked bat by Sosa and stonewalling in congressional hearings by McGuire that have tainted both of their 1998 achievements.  It was a big disappointment for baseball fans like me.

Despite the cheating and fall from grace of these would-be heroes, there is one moment from that season that sticks in my mind.  Late in the season, Mark McGuire came up to bat with the bases loaded.  He had that focused look on his face that he always had at the plate.  He swung his trademark swing and knocked the ball out of the park for a grand slam.  He trotted the base paths, “touched ‘em all”, went back to the dugout and sat down.

One of his teammates described this scene and said that after he sat on the bench and stared into space for a minute or so, McGuire turned to him and asked, “Was there anyone on base?”

I thought, dude, you just hit a grand salami and didn’t even know if there was anyone on base?

For more information, see Client Relations for Consultants

Now, I don’t mean to belittle the fact that McGuire and Sosa were cheaters.  As a coach for my son’s baseball team, it goes against everything I stand for and want the boys to learn. But I also can’t ignore the focus that McGuire held at the plate that day.  The illegal drugs gave him an unfair advantage in strength, but he provided the focus.

Focus as a consulting skill

When I serve my clients on consulting projects, I use that type of focus as my inspiration.  Maybe not to the point that I don’t know anything else that’s going on; but at least to the point that I can block out all the noise and distractions and be able to concentrate on their issues.

It’s a great day for me when I look at the clock in disbelief that it’s already 5:00 PM.  It’s a sign that I was focused enough to be absorbed in my work and oblivious to time.

This can be carried too far.  If one goes to the degree that McGuire did, they could look at the clock and realize it’s midnight.  They missed dinner with the kids, maybe a daughter’s soccer game.

See my related post: Managing Client Confidentiality

There has to be a balance or you may end up with nothing else to focus on.

If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com

As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms. 

Related Posts
Is Consulting Worth It?
My daughter is a junior in high school and in the process of investigating colleges.  In a parallel effort, I’m in the process of investigating how to maximize her ability ...
READ MORE
The Difference between Consultants and Employees
I was involved in a conversation the other day about what differentiates a consultant from a non-consultant. If you asked a non-consultant, perhaps the first answer you’d get is that there ...
READ MORE
The Aloof Consultant
I once had a new consultant join my team who entered the client site as if he owned the place.  He was expected to share a cubicle with a fellow ...
READ MORE
Consultants Give Clients a Kick in the Seat of the Pants
There are many types of consultants. Some consultants strictly give advice.  They may perform a study of the client’s internal processes, review their financials and submit a report detailing the changes ...
READ MORE
What if Your Plumber Gave You “IT” Customer Service?
Imagine a scenario where you have a pipe that leaks under your kitchen sink.  You may be an expert user of water and all things plumbing, but when it comes ...
READ MORE
Do You Build New Systems or Maintain Old Ones?
If you’re like me, you don’t’ like to put a lot of money into your home for maintenance.  To me, there’s just not a lot of gratification to maintenance. For example, ...
READ MORE
Dealing with a Condescending Client
Maybe you’ve experienced this scenario.  You’re sitting in the client’s conference room attempting to help them solve a problem.  In an effort to brainstorm, you come up with some ideas.  ...
READ MORE
3 Ways to Make Yourself Expendable
We work in an environment of nearly constant change.  Technology has not only changed the way we do virtually everything, the rate of change increases at a more rapid rate ...
READ MORE
Some Consulting What Ifs
What if Consultants… Focused on client issues rather than margin and billable hours Acted as if they were guests at a client site – not subservient, but not condescending Said no to the ...
READ MORE
The 3 Ds of Client Subversion and What To Do
As a consultant, I’ve liked every client I’ve ever served.  There are some, however, that I’ve liked more than others. Every once in a while I run across one person at ...
READ MORE
Is Consulting Worth It?
The Difference between Consultants and Employees
The Aloof Consultant
Consultants Give Clients a Kick in the Seat
What if Your Plumber Gave You “IT” Customer
Do You Build New Systems or Maintain Old
Dealing with a Condescending Client
3 Ways to Make Yourself Expendable
Some Consulting What Ifs
The 3 Ds of Client Subversion and What