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The Humility of Sacrifice—Lena West

by Lena L. West
You may know intellectually that you cannot have everything you want. I think, to some degree, we all do. But, it’s another thing altogether to know on a cellular level that sacrifice is part and parcel of running a successful, growing business.

Now, I don’t mean sacrifice in that you:

• work with clients who are not ideal
• accept sub-standard work from your team
• charge less for your services

No, I don’t mean sacrifice in the damn-do-I-have-to-short-change-myself-again?? sense of the word. I mean it’s important that we, as entrepreneurs, get an opportunity to regularly practice the humility of making a scarifice in our lives — personal and professional.
There is no honor in being inflexible. There is no gain in being unyielding.

When my father retired, he was a well-known union executive and is revered as possibly one of the best union negotiators. He was tough when he had to be, but was always fair. He always told me that in order for a negotiation to be a good negotiation, everyone must sacrifice something. Everyone.

Sometimes we negotiate with ourselves. We know we need to put the business to the side and get a 9-5 job (for a little while) so we can make ends meet, but we don’t because our pride won’t let us. Pride is the ultimate stiffener. The business we’ve built doesn’t have the right business model and instead of changing, we hold on to what doesn’t work. We’re rigid. We didn’t anticipate this marketing plan being so tough to execute and instead of going balls-to-the-wall and getting it done, we quit under the guise that “marketing doesn’t work”.

When we come from a posture of humility, we are an open vessel waiting to be used for good. Open to see things in a new way, because we don’t think we know it all. When we are open, more opportunities flow to us because we have not adopted the posture of being closed. When we are open, clients want to work with us because we can put our egos aside and do what’s best for them and their situation with the knowledge that when we do what’s truly best for our ideal clients, we’re ultimately doing what’s best for our business, too.

Being willing to forego something sends a subtle message to the Universe, to others and to yourself that you don’t feel you have to have everything you want. Things need not go your way 100% of the time for you to be content and fulfilled.

My mentor of 15 years, always says the same thing to me when I come to him for advice: “Are you willing to walk away?” He doesn’t mean am I willing to pack up my toys and go home and never play with the other party again, just am I willing to sacrifice this opportunity…am I willing to let it go. The minute I tell him I’m willing to make the sacrifice, then he can help me craft an approach wherein I feel good no matter the outcome. But, on the off chance that I’m too close and I’m unwilling to walk away, there’s not much room for him to help me, because I’m holding on too tightly.

If you’re willing to be honest, there is something right now in your business of which you need to let go. It’s not something you WANT to release, but it’s something that needs to go so that something else that you really want to happen will happen.

Oprah said it best: “You can have it all. Just not all at the same time.”
Will you sacrifice today?

2011 MA Conference for Women speaker Lena L. West is an award-winning social media consultant, blogger, speaker, journalist, technologist and the founder of, the only social media training program created exclusively for women business owners and leaders. West is also a columnist for American Express OPENForum, former Entrepreneur Magazine blogger and columnist, expert blogger for FastCompany Magazine and guest blogger for and Forbes says West is one of the 30 women entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter: