July 27, 2007
I stood in line for about 20 minutes at a grocery store to get the new Harry Potter book last Friday midnight, and people were on their cell phones with friends in lines at Barnes & Noble and Wal-Mart hearing about much longer waits. It only set my mowing back one day—I was done by 10:30 pm on Saturday, slept late on Sunday, and got back on track mowing. Distractions resolved (and horcruxes revealed), I focus again on my new business.
I’ve discovered something important during coaching homework assignments with a couple of classmates. For the lasts three weeks, our class has specifically been asked to focus our practice sessions with classmates on our progress at setting up a coaching practice.
I was working with Dee, a classmate, when I realized that I wanted to pick one thing, individual coaching, from my many ideas for a possible business and focus on it. However, my next session with Dee I realized I was resisting and starting to feel “trapped” by the idea of having a set number of coaching clients and coaching sessions each week. Dee helped me understand that I want a more open structure so I can give clients more time when they need it and less when that’s enough, without parsing the minutes. Her coaching prompted me to think in terms of how much time I wanted to set aside for a coaching practice, and how much of that time would be for things like a group call for community support, time for additional brief follow-up calls and e-mail, and managing an online forum.
So I thought I was making some headway when I started talking with Sarah. The assignment for her as my coach was to help move me forward in setting short-term goals. I wound up completely lost again.
I keep returning to a different kind of vision for the service I want to provide. It’s not a straightforward coaching practice, where someone can buy a certain amount of my time for a set fee (4 sessions a month for 30 minutes each). It’s a broader view that provides information and comfortably paced conversation (maybe virtually, such as through e-mail and forums) for people who are starting to look at ways to bring personal growth and meaningful community into their own lives. It’s a view that includes providing information through books or training sessions. It’s a view that includes individual and group coaching for people who are ready to commit some time and effort to planning and implementing changes. And it’s a view of an ongoing community for people who have been through some targeted changes but still want company and connection as they continue to grow and learn things at a slower pace.
Here’s where it gets pretty silly, and humbling to admit. I set a goal to build my individual coaching practice and then felt like that would trap me—because it seemed like I would be abandoning all my other plans. Pretty goofy, isn’t it? But that’s the way reactions tend to be when they’re preconscious, or unconscious. They aren’t logical. They just point to our deeper values in a protective way.
Talking with Sarah, I realized two things: 1) I don’t have to choose one thing to commit to right now, to the exclusion of others, so I can give time and energy to adding coaching clients without “forsaking” my other plans; and 2) focusing on one thing felt like leaving behind the other things, like I was choosing “either/or.” It wasn’t rational and it wasn’t correct, but it was what my unconscious mind was thinking. And that was holding me back from committing to it.
As long as I remember to give some time each week to considering and planning those other goals, I feel free to focus time and energy on adding coaching clients. I’ve also realized that I’ll still have the freedom to plan my time, even if I have a few coaching clients. If I discover something about the idea of teaching or building a support community that grabs my attention and calls for my time, I can transition more time to it by not adding new coaching clients. As a client reaches his or her goals and moves on, I can allot that time to developing the other ideas. I can keep adding time to working on the other goals instead of adding new coaching clients for as long as I need to, eventually focusing all my time if I decide to. And I can add more coaching clients again after I develop those other ideas.
Thank you, Dee, for helping me realize I don’t have to format my practice in a traditional way. Dee told me, “Ironically, if you want to get out of the box, just build your own. And paint it however you want to.” She helped me embrace a vision that will serve more people at different levels of need.
And thank you, Sarah, for helping me see that my resistance to a traditionally formatted coaching practice comes from my sense that I don’t want my service to be narrowly defined and time-limited. I want ongoing and recurring interactions with people at different stages of change. I want to be able to follow them through focused episodes of bigger change, and also through the slow, deliberative, thoughtful transformations of spirit that occur when dynamic communities of people welcome and nurture each other.
May You Know the Joys of Sharing Your Gifts,
July 20, 2007
We live on a parcel of land in what once was rural countryside. Slowly suburbia creeps closer, and occasionally sends out runners like an aggressive vine, adding a cluster of mini mansions crammed so closely there’s no sunlight for grass to grow in between. There’s plenty of “green space” around the perimeter of the cluster of houses, and often an ornamental pond or two with concrete walkways twisting so much they look like they were poured by drunken men chasing each other. Usually they throw a stone wall around the “subdivision” to set it apart and give it the feeling of exclusivity. It’s odd to hear people say they want to move to this area because of the open feel of the land, and then build stone walls to block it off.
But we have open land! Open land means trees here and there, a pond to the north and a pond to the south, and cows to the west. Open land also means a lot of mowing. I have a zero radius mower to mow my parcel. Taking out the areas we leave wild and the pond, I probably mow about 4 acres. Here in Texas we had a lengthy drought followed by months of ongoing rains, so mowing has been tricky. I was able to get everything adequately mowed between rainfalls so I could take my mower in for its annual service. It took more than a week and the rains have been intermittent since I got it back. That means that the area outside our fenced yard is very tall, so parts of the grass rise above my knees when I drive the mower through.
Because of this I had to plan 2 levels of mowing. I cut with the mower set very high to shear off the top part of the grass, still leaving it lengthy and rough looking. I will have to go back over it at a lower setting to get a nice clean cut. If the rain holds off. I got a cool breeze and then a chilly wind with sprinkles of rain from some very dark clouds while I was making my first run through half the pasture.
Having to mow, and then mow again, seemed frustrating at first. But when I thought it through it sounded a lot like my career path lately. I have to take steps of preparation in order to take the next steps for the next level of preparation. I can’t just walk through a door and have a thriving coaching/personal growth counseling practice. I have to complete the coursework, I have to have a couple of practice clients, and then I have to build up a paying clientele one client at a time.
It’s the same with the mowing. I can’t just set the mower on “nice low even cut” and zip around for a few hours and be done. I have to mow the wild pasture down to a manageable level. Then I have to wait a few days and mow it at a lower level, which will leave clumps of cut grass that will turn brown and ugly. Then I have to wait until the grass has grown back a little and mow it evenly to get everything to look right.
Mowing has to be done on a regular basis. Around here, that’s from some time in March until maybe October or November. Then there’s a break. But when the grass starts growing again, I have to try to stay on schedule or it gets out of hand and grows taller than my knees. Sometimes the schedule gets messed up because of rain. Sometimes the schedule gets messed up because I’m out of town for a while. But usually the schedule with the mower gets messed up because I forget to respect the regular cycle of the grass when I get busy doing other things. I’ll miss my regular time to mow and look out a couple of days later and realize I need to get it done soon. And then I’ll start trying to figure out when, in my crowded schedule, I can get to it without waiting until my next regular mowing time.
Grass doesn’t reschedule. It doesn’t agree to postpone the project because things came up. It doesn’t wait for a time that’s convenient for both of us. It just grows when it’s supposed to grow and really doesn’t care if I stay caught up!
My pasture teaches me lots of lessons when I’m willing to pay attention. Some of them I even remember! This one I’m slow to act on, though. The new Harry Potter book comes out tonight and I’m heading to Kroger or Wal-Mart to buy it. The back half of the pasture may wind up as tall as my shoulders before I take time to do the first rough cut. Maybe I’ll finish the book over the weekend and find a couple of hours on Monday to go out and learn some more things from my pasture.
May You Know the Joy of Sharing Your Gifts,
July 16, 2007
I’ve had a lot of ideas brainflooding me in the past few weeks about ways to incorporate e-books, seminars, videos, audios, group coaching, individual coaching, and a membership site for online community and support in my business model.
It’s freakin’ me out!
I have a large vision of where I can eventually take my business and how I can have multiple profit centers and a lot of variety in my work but stay focused on the themes of community building, mentorship, and advocating personal growth.
It’s such a big vision it has stunned me, like a deer in the headlights.
I procrastinated writing this blog entry because I felt completely adrift, not knowing what to do next.
Which is a pretty sad thing, since coaching, more than anything else, is about finding direction and taking practical steps. But I was lost!
I never quite understand the nuances of the saying, “he couldn’t see the forest for the trees.” But I think it means the overwhelming details are blinding you to the big picture. Well, I got that reversed. I couldn’t see the trees for the forest.
My next step is to build my coaching practice. I don’t have to build a web site yet that includes products and seminars and a membership site. I just need something focused on helping potential clients get to know me.
The other things I can add in the future, but my focus now is on telling people I have a coaching practice and learning about getting referrals.
I love working with people exploring their calling. I love working with creative people. I love working with people who want to mentor and guide others. The message has to get a little more focused and specific to be useful in helping people learn how I can help them.
So that’s my goal: focus the message and start letting people know I have slots available for coaching clients. Until I get to a steady level (I have no idea how many that will be yet) I won’t worry about classes or group coaching or e-books. One purpose, until it’s established and fairly consistent. One goal. One focus.
It’s time to act.
May You Know the Joy of Sharing Your Gifts,
July 8, 2007
When you look to the left at the top of my blog page you see “Blogs from Friends Custom Designing Their Own Lives.” I included those a while back because they reflect the purpose of this blog when I started it: to track my journey to meaningful and enjoyable work and the discoveries along the way.
Today I want to celebrate these people and encourage everyone to click the links and see their blogs.
Arts, Tiles, and Mosaics is a blog by RMW about her zealous, joyful passion for painted tiles. She loves making them, she loves teaching about making them, and she loves studying ancient tiles. She’s trying to shift her life a little bit so tiles can be a bigger part, incorporated in her work and not just something for free time. See her work and you will know she can do it.
Della’s New Look Designs is by Della P. She has a knack for home staging, organizing, and decorating but is just beginning to explore those options. The excitement on her blog is she has discovered gifts and passions by doing volunteer work with a special youth ministry through her church and it is giving her confidence and joy. She is changing and growing, not sure where she will end up, but thrilled to be moving forward.
New Moon Angel’s blog is by Armelle, a French woman who until recently lived and worked in Ireland. She left that position to pursue more creative work and moved back to France as part of her journey. But she returned in time to join a pilgrimage walking through Spain and just spent about a month doing that. She is a writer by nature and looking for ways to include that in her new life. Her blog is full of the richness of her craft and amazing discoveries she has made by having the courage to make changes and take risks.
Rambling and Writing is by Stella, who loves to head out on weekends and drive the back roads and discover places. She is thinking of ways to use her unique perspective on discovering places to incorporate into weekend travel recommendations. Stella helped me realize that my own road will be twisty and uncertain sometimes, but the discovery of the new town can be more exciting than rushing straight for a distant goal and missing the journey along the way.
Storytellers and Writers is by Jane VerDow. She is author of Dear Daisy and started a small publishing company. Her prose is lyrical and she also puts poetry on her blog at times. She has a great deal of wisdom and insight and shares her own journey in a courageous and transparent way.
Travel with the Kids is a happy idea by Travel Cat (Catherine). Cat is using her blog to practice putting together great ideas for weekend outings or sites to see in different towns for people traveling with children. She includes reviews of places showing how children will experience and enjoy them and usually has price and contact information. This is a window on the development of a creative business idea, since in the future she may have a published guide or on-line resource with many listings. It’s fun to see the process of building up lots of information by writing one piece at a time.
Wendy V’s Ponderings is from Wendy, who recently moved from St. Paul, Minnesota to Nashville, Tennessee. She is a fan and advocate of musicians and has made guiding and coaching new musicians part of her career. She moved to Nashville to be closer to the music and the musicians. It’s a bumpy ride! She has taken a risk and made a big move. She is having new experience and learning a lot, but also struggling with learning a new place and getting a steady survival income. Hers is a story of courage and dedication to a passion.
What if you believe? is a blog from Kamin Bell, who works as a life coach while maintaining a demanding corporate job. She records her insights and philosophy here. It’s inspirational and spiritual, giving good balance to anyone with a life full of errands and tasks and corporate guidelines.
All of these women are changing their lives and taking steps towards work that reflects their deepest, truest nature. I honor them and encourage them.
And I’m going to look EVEN HARDER for men who are doing the same.
May You Know the Joy of Sharing Your Gifts,