What The Princess Bride Can Teach Independent Consultants

I’ve frequently joked that I take much of my approach to working as an independent consultant from The Princess Bride. Knowing all jokes are half true, Patrick Rhone asked me for the punch line.

Here are six:

  1. “Let’s look on the bright side: we’re having an adventure, Fezzik, and most people live and die without being as lucky as we are.”

    Adventure. That’s exactly why we go independent. For some adventures you’ll need a team. Maybe not right away, perhaps down the road. Ad hoc is fine, in fact it’s preferred. Sometimes members of your team will start out as competitors. Keep your mind open to creating ad hoc teams as projects and adventures warrant.

  2. “Look! He’s right on top of us. I wonder if he is using the same wind we are using.”

    Independence removes much of the weight of other organizations allowing you to move much more quickly towards your goals, as well as identifying smaller, more unique opportunities that larger teams don’t see the significance in. It’s worth mentioning here that just because someone is traveling in the same direction you are doesn’t mean you have shared goals or intentions. It just means you’re traveling in the same direction.

  3. “Get some rest. If you haven’t got your health, then you haven’t got anything.”

    You’re exhausted and you feel like your projects are taking the life out of you. Stop and take care of yourself. If you’re not taking care of you – you can’t take care of your clients. Only you know what you need to perform at your best – and it likely starts with eating well, exercising at least every other day, and every night getting a full night’s sleep.

  4. “You just wiggled your finger. That’s wonderful!”

    Sometimes you feel mostly dead. In these times, celebrate the small victories. Remember, you’re working towards a larger goal. Progress towards a goal, no matter how minor – is still progress.

  5. “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says otherwise is obviously selling something!”

    Yes, selling. Dedicate time each week to gaining new business. As an independent, people are buying you – or more specifically – they’re buying access to you. In return you relieve some pain on their side. Identify their pain, how you can ease it, and your sales process will be much more straight forward. Thought, it still may take twice as long as you expect.

  6. “Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”

    There’s no such thing as job security. Even in piracy, and honestly, your current salaried position isn’t nearly as glamorous as storybook piracy. Maybe, just maybe, you’re the one person your boss will have replace him when he retires. Far more likely: he’ll go down with the ship.