Whatever the mystique or folklore around St Valentines Day, the one thing we cannot escape on February 14th is a message of LOVE! And when I was invited to contribute to Judith Morgan’s ‘Your Biz, Your Way’ Blogfest, I jumped at the chance to write on St Valentines Day because if my business is work at all, it’s a labour of love.
Did I really just question whether my business is work? Yes! There are days where I can hardly believe I get paid for doing something I love most in the world… helping ambitious professionals to succeed in their personal or professional mission.
Before I go any further, allow me to introduce ‘Your Biz, Your Way” the blogfest, which follows hot on the heels of the release of Judith’s first ‘proper’ book (I haven’t asked about the improper ones!) of the same name. The Blogfest features 52 contributions, sharing how solopreneurs and small business owners do business their way. Judith will be sharing her response to my story on her own blog so do see what she has to say here – I can’t wait!
Ok… on with the story.
Where did the magic start?
It’s hard to believe that my experience of coaching and mentoring others now spans 25 years plus. What a privilege it’s been to support people on their various professional and personal journeys during that time. And when redundancy beckoned, it was an absolute no brainer as to what the focus of my own business would be.
With extensive experience in complex change & project management, and a real heart for people and personal transformation, ‘change’ was always going to be central in my business. So were people! When I discovered that, in colour psychology, ‘magenta’ is the instrument of change and transformation, ‘Magenta Change’ was born! Magenta is also said to represent universal love at its highest level – how fitting for today.
It may be a strange thing to say, but I knew that my business was going to be ‘my biz, my way’, long before it was born. I share the story of my experience of redundancy in a book, Thresholds, which is being published later this month. Thresholds is a collection of 75 stories, from around the world, of threshold experiences. Redundancy was certainly one of my lifetime thresholds. I was deeply immersed in a period of personal development at the time, and navigating my way through a path that, initially, would not have been of my choosing was an unexpected opportunity to put everything I was learning into practice… and to create a hugely positive outcome.
I Gotta Be Me
Perhaps the single biggest lesson that I put into practice was that whilst we can’t always control events around us, we can always control our response to them. Setting my own intentions for what I wanted to achieve and who I wanted to be during those negotiations, undoubtedly helped me to create a better outcome, in a situation where we so often see personal and professional identities torn apart. I’m sure it was no co-incidence that during those negotiations, I was introduced to the song ‘I Gotta Be Me’, which is now a central tenet in my VIP work with clients who want not only to be successful in their mission but also to be the very best that they can be.
I Gotta Be Me – is as important to what I do and who I am in my business, as it is in my work with clients.
At the simplest level that starts with how I set up my work space and how I prepare for my day. I’d love to say that I’ve got some beautifully peaceful and invigorating ritual that sets me up perfectly, but I haven’t found that yet. The truth is, I’ve always worked best in a degree of chaos and pressure, and I notice that sometimes I still need to create that to get the ‘business’ side of things done. Ironically, the exact opposite is true when I am preparing to work with clients. On client days, my own personal preparation is all about calm, quiet and time to sit and focus on my client, and the space I want to create for them, before they arrive.
If you follow my work on being in flow you’ll notice that, in considering how I set up and prepare, I’ve automatically gone to the first stage of the process* I use to help clients understand how they do their best work. So if I continue along that path, let’s take a look at how ‘what I do and how I do it’ come into play in doing business my way.
As I consider that question, I’m not at all surprised to find that there is, again, a separation here between ‘business my way’ and ‘coaching my way’.
Let’s start with ‘coaching my way’. With 25 years of experience, the way in which I work with clients is very much a blend of skills, experience and knowledge. I’m reminded of much that is written and taught about the pursuit of mastery, often defined in quantifiable terms as the attainment of 10,000 hours of experience or practice of a skill. For me, there is a stage beyond that…. where mastery becomes artistry. Where we blend what we know, what we do and who we are to create our unconscious, instinctive, intuitive best. It’s that blend that is important to me in my work with clients – the space that creates goosebumps! The space that creates knowing rather than knowledge and takes us to the heart of our being, rather than our doing. The space where magic happens.
The Terrible Twos
Am I in that same expert space when I think of ‘biz my way’? I’ll be honest, not yet – that’s why I follow people like Judith! My business is just three years old next month – so in business management terms, a mere toddler in relation to the decades of coaching experience I bring into it. I’m rather glad my business has left the ‘terrible twos’ behind, and yet I know that any parenting book would tell me that it’s an essential stage to developing independence!
And that is exactly what has happened. In that initial 12-18months it was all about learning what’s out there, all the packages, the programmes, the gurus. You name it, I almost certainly researched it…. And got completely overwhelmed by it. It took me a while to understand why, as a leader with decades of experience of making decisions and taking actions, I found this new terrain so hard to navigate – even with advice.
Then one day, it made sense. I was trying to work out what I needed to DO to be successful in business. Wrong question! What I needed to understand was exactly the same question I help my clients to answer. The question that was right under my nose.
Not what do I need to DO, but who do I need to BE?
The age of independence – mission & mindset
Once I know who I need to be, it makes working out what I need to do so much easier. Who I need to be is all about the next three steps in the flow process I mentioned earlier. Who I am – who we are – is about our beliefs and values, our identity, and our mission or purpose.
Here any sense of separation between ‘biz my way’ and ‘coaching my way’ disappears. I Gotta Be Me, in both! And there have been two simple mindset and mission changes that have helped me to bring them into alignment.
In terms of mindset, the change came when I spotted that a subtle change in language created more freedom in my thinking and energy. When I describe my work as a business, I notice that I focus on things I need to learn and things I need to do – the novice – rather than who I need to be. When I describe my work as a professional practice, the emphasis and energy is on what I know and who I am – the professional. In turn, that releases headspace for me, from wondering what I don’t know and what other people are doing better, to creating growth in my practice through what I know and enjoy and want to develop and create with my clients.
And finally, in terms of mission. One of the best things about ‘my biz, my way’, is choosing who I work with. I’ve always said that if I worked with tennis players and singers, I’d never work another day in my life. And the singers appeared really quickly – and even the odd actor! I’m still working on the tennis players (I’m ready when you are, Andy Murray), but I’ve worked with other elite athletes and also with parents of high performing tennis juniors, so I’m sure the tennis players will come too! I also work with entrepreneurs and business leaders and, more recently, political leaders – another passion! I am both thrilled and privileged to work with such a rich blend of talented people making a difference in their respective worlds.
But I’d missed something. I’d often sat and looked at what my ‘tribe’ had in common. Whenever I was asked about my ‘niche’, I didn’t feel like I had a ready, consistent answer. And then one day, I asked myself a different question. I sat down to look for the thing that was under my nose that I was missing… and I realised that 95% of my clients came with some sort of mission. Those were the people, often but not exclusively women, that my message and experience spoke to. Because I’ve always been on some sort of mission too! And since setting up my professional practice (see what I did there?!), I’ve been on a mission to find my mission.
My biz, my way
And that’s my final observation about ‘my biz, my way’.
Doing things my way means I get to choose.
I get to evolve and to grow as I learn more about myself and as I learn more about the clients I am here to serve. As I grow and my clients grow, so my practice grows and changes too. Within that growth is the power to choose who I know I can help best – where I can help to make the most impact and the biggest difference in the world. Sometimes that’s about full scale life change…. often it’s simply about the small adjustments that make the biggest difference to how we show up in the world. It’s the small adjustments that accelerate our performance and progress.
My mission, is to help ambitious professionals who are on a mission – helping them to accelerate their own performance and progress, to increase their impact and to maximise their results in whatever they are setting out to achieve. And, naturally, to be ‘unstoppably you’ in your mission.
Or, as the members of my new Women on a Mission online community describe it, ‘to help them achieve what they simply can’t not do’.
I’m told that I can’t lose the word ‘unstoppable’ from what I do, because that’s who I am. So Mission Unstoppable it is.
That’s ‘my biz, my way’.
And I LOVE it!
Let me finish with a question.
How could doing your thing, your way make a difference to you? If you’re on a mission, and I can help you to succeed and be unstoppably you, get in touch. I’d love to help.
Are you on a mission to create change in your world? Do come and join my Mission Unstoppable community. I’d love to learn more about your mission, especially if I can help you to lead with confidence, create more impact and live a life that matters.