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Have you ever decided not to act on something because you were uncertain about the outcome? It’s a tricky thing, certainty, because while it might keep you safe- it can also keep you the same. And sometimes the same is not the best thing.

I’ve been having conversations with new potential clients over the past few weeks, and many of them have centered around the concept of a ‘guarantee’ or ‘promise’ of results.

I find this very interesting, for several reasons. First, I definitely agree that we should each ask for as much certainty and guarantee as we can. Yet, at the same time, I’m always aware that there are no real guarantees- not of anything.

People promise to stay married forever, and forever is cut short by death, or a change of heart.

People promise to love their children unconditionally- but then don’t.

People feel loyal to a brand or company- until they’re not anymore.

And so on.

In the helping professions, especially, the concept of guarantee is a bit nebulous; because what, as a service provider, can you really guarantee except that you’ll do your best with what you know, for as long as you are working with the client? In a relationship such as coaching, counseling, and, even to some degree, consulting, what can be accomplished or achieved is really a joint creation of the people involved.

So how, as a coach, counselor, or consultant, can you guarantee results, especially when the results are jointly created? Do we, as service providers, ever ask our clients, “well, what do you guarantee me back?” – my guess is no, we don’t. (I don’t either, but I sometimes wonder if I should.)

…….not because I am trying to be snarky or provocative, but because I think that in all the talk of guarantees, the power of the relationship sometimes gets lost.

I’ve definitely had the experience where potential clients are so wary of my services and want so many promises that it turns me off from even trying to work with them. Not that I couldn’t help them, but simply because I’d rather work with people who are willing to risk a little bit, or who are willing to take a chance. Nothing is ever a perfect fit, necessarily- what you’re looking for is good enough to get the results you want.

Sometimes people miss out on something that would notably move them forward- and their businesses forward- because they aren’t willing to tolerate the uncertainty of the risk.

I’m never suggesting that you take risks without thinking; but, just that, sometimes, you have to dare if you want a different outcome.

How about you? Where are you waiting for guarantees and delaying your progress?