I don't think anyone would argue that working in client services is demanding work. There are long-held tenets that shape expectations around what these relationships should look like. Assumptions such as "The client is always right" and "Give an inch and they'll take a mile." However, these traditional attitudes set up a paradigm where the two sides are at odds with each other. And if you're in the business of serving clients, why wouldn't you want to be on the same team?
I arrived at client services later in my career after spending most of my time working in house. This affords me the opportunity to bring a fresh perspective not influenced by old ideas – but rather informed by a view from the other side of the fence. As a result, I am forever in pursuit of client relationships that represent true partnership. And from this, I've come to learn that sometimes finding balance in your life isn't actually the best thing.
Sometimes, you really do need to go all in. When you're serving clients, doing work that you truly love and are passionate about, it changes the dynamic of the relationships you build with them. You're no longer performing work to order, acting as a vendor providing a service, but you're consulting, providing strategy and counsel – truly invested in the outcome.
When I first interviewed with Hotwire (then Eastwick), CEO Barbara Bates gave me great insight when I asked her about work-life balance as a mother and a professional. It's not about balance, she said, it's about integration. Some days you'll need to focus more on work, and some days you'll need to focus more on family. This couldn't be more true.
I no longer seek balance, which means I get to fully immerse myself in a project and reach true "flow." On the other side of this, I also work to understand ahead of time what my tradeoffs are when I am out of balance. This helps manage expectations and keep priorities in line.
Having the flexibility to shift and be all-in when it's required means I provide my clients the full attention our partnership deserves, I'm there for my family when it matters most, and I am more satisfied and fulfilled in the ways I choose to spend my time.
But even so, I don’t believe that balance — which essentially asks us to never go all-in on anything — is the right solution.