Relinquishing Control

relinquishing controlOld news: everything can change in the blink of an eye.

Back in March, I was talking to a client about an intense search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.

I had put twenty hours into lunch meetings, phone calls, research, writing, and proposal preparation. I calculated the amount of hours needed to complete a particular project for a particular client and make a profit.

Search Engine Optimization has a nasty learning curve, so to help the owners of the company better understand what I was selling them, I took all the most important terms and wrote an SEO primer, a layman’s guide to driving more traffic to a website and using that website to generate revenue.

We agreed on compensation, terms, and a two-month trial period. We agreed on a start date and the criteria that we would use to evaluate the success of my efforts.

Then I received an email apology. The backend of the web-based application on the website that needed more traffic was a gnarly wind knot. The programming had a thousand kinks, twists, and dead ends. The programmer who had built the application had taken two years to do three months’ worth of work. By the time he finally finished building the app, it was hopelessly clunky and outdated with all sorts of frustrating hiccups for the customers using the application. The setup wizard had worse math skills than a dyslexic donkey.

Of course all this happened long before I even met the men who had unwittingly paid the programmer to do sub-par work. They only discovered the full extent of the application’s problems after we started talking about using SEO to drive more traffic, convert more window shoppers, and make the app more profitable.

While I was in the process of attaching the May invoice to the email, I received the apology email: Why would we drive traffic to a site with a broken product? The application needed to be fixed, so until that happened the SEO initiatives were put on hold.

Ouch. Despite my best efforts to educate these businessmen and put together a solid proposal, half the income that Megan and I were counting on for the next two months vanished in an instant.

The situation was completely beyond my control. Double ouch.

Money and security vanish in the length of time required to write an email.
I try not to keep track of the many, many things in my life that escape my grasp, my ability to manipulate and control.

Now, in late June, I look back on two months where Megan and I were still able to pay our bills. We even spent time in Nashville and Indianapolis. I had the opportunity to geek out at two internet marketing conferences in San Diego and meet some of the coolest people who have ever hustled a buck online.

This blog post is about control—and giving it up.

Today, I can carve out a small space of the day that God have given me and turn it into an ebenezer, a totem of remembrance, that stands for my lack of control and my desire to move in that freedom the way a fetus moves in the womb.

Every bill paid is manna. Every chance to travel is manna. Every new relationship with an entrepreneur or artist is manna. Sometimes, the manna seems to disappear, but I can tell you with absolute confidence that if you walk a little farther, around the next bend, you’ll find that God has put just enough manna there for you, for the day, or maybe even a month.

So here’s to relinquishing control.

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4 Comments

  1. Posted June 23, 2011 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Thank you. This was something I really needed to read right now! Also, I miss you.

  2. Posted June 23, 2011 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Ethan, Call me. Let’s catch up.

  3. Posted June 23, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    This post is now one of my favorites.

  4. Posted June 25, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Erin! I’m glad it made a difference. The only problem with posting it is being held accountable to the things I wrote.