This is what things looked like at my place about the middle of last week:
Quite the rainy day. Most people don’t like days like this, saying the weather is dreary and it brings the mood down. Personally, I enjoy rainy weather. I can’t really explain why. In the summer when we have heavy, violent thunderstorms, I can sit at the window and watch – even the thunder and lightning. Why do I do this? You know, I often wonder myself, because my body absolutely despises this weather.
I have some pretty nasty arthritis in both of my knees. It started to show up at the end of my twenties, and by my mid-thirties it was close to unbearable. I saw several orthopedic surgeons, who all said the same thing: “This is pretty substantial, and you’re going to need total knee replacement surgery on both of them. But not now.” This was around 2005, when I was 35. The reasoning for delay was that the replacement device generally lasted for 30 years, and someone who was only 35 was going to be very likely to dramatically increase activity, and the device would wear out much sooner, probably needing to get a new replacement by age 60, if not sooner. And this would be very bad, because getting any more than 2 replacements in a lifetime could be very dangerous. So they don’t like to do any knee replacement until at least age 50. That way you aren’t likely to wear the replacement out until you’re 75-80, and a second replacement would then last the rest of your life.
Disappointed, I trudged on with most daily activity greatly increasing the pain. I also added a lot of weight, which made it worse. In 2015, I went back to the orthopedic practice and saw a physician’s assistant. She told me that age was not really a factor for me any longer, but my weight was. It made me a prime candidate for staph infection and a host of other dangers. Of course I would have my weight loss surgery in November 2017, which eliminated the weight obstacle. The next stumbling block was money, as I since haven’t had enough funds to cover the deductible. I’m within the weight range of safe operation, and age is not an issue. The deductible is my only road block. There’s still plenty of pain. And on days when it’s cool, and it rains all day, these dogs will do some serious barking.
And it isn’t only me. My wife has some serious nerve and joint pain as a result of her cerebral palsy. She does not share my enjoyment of rainy days, and on these days she just curls up with a blanket, medications, and a good crime drama or 12. So yes, I’m a bit of an odd-ball, with my mind enjoying rainy days while my body despises them.
What does this have to do with anything? Well, how many times do we have similar conflicts when it comes to working and career? It can particularly be thorny for the entrepreneur.
There is a school of thought that you must be available for business 24/7 – if you aren’t, you have a poor work ethic, and you really don’t want success. I see people posting on social media with time stamps at all hours of the night, with the poster boasting about being up at those hours, claiming superiority over the slothful bums who are sleeping. (Some of these posts that I see are from people who genuinely suffer from insomnia, but their captions read, “I can’t sleep, so I’m trying to do some work and make the best of it.”)
If that is you, and that’s the way you roll, that’s OK. But don’t be dismissive of the people who only work a defined set of hours. Many people go into business for themselves due to unconventional dynamics – small children, being a caregiver for a chronically-ill family member, active school-age kids that you want to be able to go to their activities, or just feeling trapped by the expectation of working 8-5 Monday-Friday.
Virtual Assistants can run into availability conflicts pretty regularly. You will find a VA who works from home to be able to go to the child’s sporting events partnering with one of those 24/7, work-at-any-time-of-day-or-night business owners. This VA isn’t going to be available at 3:30 AM, and probably not many evenings when the youngin is playing ball.
This is where it is critical to have established clear guidelines when the partnership is first created. If one party is going to be limited in the days and times (s)he is available, that must be stated up front. If the other party agrees, those limitations must be respected, and not violated. If those parameters aren’t set up in the beginning, conflict can arise very quickly, and resentment can quickly set in when one or both parties feel expectations aren’t being met.
Be very thorough in your setup. Each person lays out what they need and what they expect, and get very detailed in the methods that will be used to meet the needs and expectations. It’s OK if the discussion ends up in the partnership not being a good fit. Each person then recommending someone to help is a great gesture of goodwill. Always strive to be good to people, even if you can’t be business partners.