Monday, 17 August 2009
Hunting in the long grass...
This time of year always has the feel of preparing for a new business cycle for me - perhaps more so than the actual New Year. I put it down to my years of stocking kids up with new pencil cases and the flurry of name-taping everything in sight as the beginning of a new school year approaches.
Following my last Blog, my thoughts have had me hunting through my own business long grass for the achievements that are hidden out there from this year. These had been triggered earlier in the summer through my membership of the HR Forum (at email@example.com) where the question had been posed about how we were coping with a "difficult year".
It got me thinking at the time about whether I would choose to label 2009 in such a way.
For me, personally, I have had a thoroughly interesting year that I certainly would not have had without external economic influence. I have done work and written stuff that I would not have considered accepting before this year - and consequently have learned heaps because some of it was out of my comfort zone and needed thorough research. That alone has really sharpened my saw and I know I have produced some stunning pieces through the re-thinking and re-modelling - and a bit of struggling it's true. It makes me think of the personal development difference between "20 years' consulting experience" or "1 year's consulting experience 20 times".
I've also been able to focus on client relationships that are temporarily (I hope) not commercially based, rather than focusing on project implementation. I have also given time, resource, material and stuff away to people who can't pay for it right now. So there's a fair bit of paying it forward energy out there, courtesy of me - perhaps scarcity is the time to be abundant - I don't know, but it feels pretty good.
I've increased my coaching assignments considerably and have loved witnessing the softening of crusty edges in some clients as they engage with their own vulnerability that executive success and making heaps of money so often masks - and gets in their way.
Have I made as much money as last year? - I don't really know and probably not - but my business and personal expenses are also down considerably. So I look forward to my accountant's verdict at the end of our financial year - my guess is that revenue will be down a bit, but profit ratios about the same and I quite like the reality of stepping off the exponential expectation treadmill that this-year-must-be-better-than-last-year. I reckon I've done twice as much learning though!
I think I have got a lot smarter about the business in general - like taking good care of a friend or family member who needs you - and in a way, I find I have connected back to the delicious early days of starting out and going it alone, when every telephone call was laced with excitement and the highs and lows of getting work (and being accepted) or not (and being rejected) were immediate and powerful - because it really mattered and was hard-won. I realise I've lost some of that intensity in the recent years.
Is it always easy? No - but at least I feel fully alive and present to myself and the business! Vive la difference!
On the personal front, my garden is looking pretty good, with 6 types of vegetables all staked up and soaking up the sun and rain, and I was able to be home for the whole of the GCSE period this time round, rather than phoning from a foreign hotel room somewhere to see how it had gone - so benefits all round!
So, time spent hunting in the long grass was a good investment - you never know what you might find!