My version of success probably looks much different than most. You won’t see my face or logo plastered to the side of a city bus, you won’t hear a radio ad for Desert Bloom Doula, LLC (though maybe one day…) and I will probably never be the biggest doula name in town, the name known by all. I may not get monetarily rich doing this work. But, here is where I am truly successful: I make each client count. I have learned not to take on more than I can comfortably handle on my own. I know that I am not good at burning my candle at both ends. I am mindful of the type of client I say yes to, where years ago, I said yes to every person that interviewed me because I felt I had to. I ask myself, will this relationship we forge not only benefit her on the journey to motherhood, but will it be a relationship that won’t take everything out of me? Will I be able to meet her needs? Do we connect?
Now, before you start throwing judgements, hear me out: I am not talking ‘type’ like what side of the tracks she’s from or what her yearly income is, or even her age. I am talking about the person inside all of that.
When you work for a company that your heart doesn’t align with, or are forced to work closely with someone you don’t care for, how productive are you? What does that environment do to your morale? How does it affect your attitude, mood, or health? Usually with a big NEGATIVE EVERYTHING. Now, imagine all that negativity in an intimate, one on one relationship, which will often last many months. What kind of honest support and heart-felt nurturing can you give a person who rubs you the wrong way, or whom you just cannot connect with? Do you think she’ll notice? You bet she will! As a doula, the very last thing I want to do is cause my client more anxiety or stress or bring any negativity into her birth space. So, I’ve learned to listen to my gut. I pay attention to how I feel at the interview. I notice how she responds to me and will sometimes ask questions like, “You seem uncertain. Can I answer any questions you may still have? Ask me anything! How can I help?” At the end of the interview, my gratitude in meeting them is genuine and I thank them for taking time to meet with me.
If my intuitive voice is still telling me “NO!!!” I will send an email saying I appreciate the time they took to interview, but I feel they will be better served by a doula with a different set of skills that I possess. I follow that by a list of local doulas for her to call, and wish them much happiness in their future. I feel no need to explain myself. I keep it kind but simple. Thank you, no thank you, is enough.
Could I take a client I don’t feel comfortable with? Yes. I mean money is money, right? But as much as I love money, and who doesn’t, I realize that I cannot let that be what drives me. This is heart work, and I am at my best when I am genuinely connected with my clients. Will I get “rich” running my business this way? Probably not. But I have a rich, love-filled work life with relationships that often last years past the birth of a baby, and this is why I am a doula. I learn and receive as much as I teach and give from each client that comes my way. I guess I won’t compromise that for monetary benefit alone. I won’t be in an uncomfortable work environment that doesn’t benefit me or my client. They pay good money, and deserve the best doula they can get.
This “business model” I’ve adopted means that I am not the busiest doula in the area. I only take a couple of clients at a time so I can give each the best of my professional self and still have time for my family and my own self-care. I can honor their journey and my own all at once. This makes for a fully satisfying career and I am thankful that I am able to run my business this way.
Am I saying that any other way to run a doula business is wrong? No, quite the opposite. I am in AWE, y’all, of the movers and the shakers out there who can juggle a full calendar and come out on top. I love a good success story, and am proud of all the doulas in our community. I envy their drive and their vision. What I am saying, is that type of hustle is not for me, so outwardly, I may not look as successful as others, but I feel as successful as anyone out there. There is room for all versions of success. The key is to find the right version for you.
In the 15+ years of doing this, I’ve evolved my idea of success. For me it is personal satisfaction, having a reputation of follow-thru, of kindness and of wisdom, and being respected for those qualities by both my colleagues and my clients. My version of success is having a client pay my premium price, knowing the value they are getting for the investment. I like the quiet, steady way my business is growing, and I hope others can learn something from this style of doing business. For an introvert like myself, I believe I am doing it exactly right for who I am and what I am trying to bring to the world.
I know that each client that signs with me will get the best care I can offer. They will feel important, cared for and equipped for the role as a parent. What an amazing profession I am in! I am so grateful and excited for what this journey will bring. Good things to come. Stay tuned.