Category Archives for Vision

It's time to be awesome blog image

It’s time to be awesome! -Rainbow Dash

The kids (as you know) are home for the foreseeable future. One unexpected benefit of this (in addition to random, mid-day hugs) is that I get to hear the soundtrack to their current movie obsession over and over and over again. Lately, it’s bee “Hey Siri, play the My Little Pony: The Movie Soundtrack.” Mostly (to be honest), I just tune it out… but every now and then one of those songs will make its way into my brain and get lodged.

This time, it was “Time to be Awesome” by Rainbow Dash. She’s talking to a group of parrot pirates encouraging them to stop doing the bidding of the Storm King, and instead do their own AWESOME thing. It’s catchy, and worth a listen (click here).

(My favorite lyric is “Hey Scallywags, it’s time to be awesome!” 

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Time Management is overwhelming

Why Time Management is So Overwhelming

There are two kinds of people in the world:

Those whose work is mostly or entirely dictated by outside forces and those whose work has to be driven mostly or entirely from their choices.

Think of the first group as all the people you know who have JOBS. Even those who have high pressure, high paid managerial jobs have the boundaries of their work largely set by organizational priorities.

The second group can best be summarized as people who are, to a significant extent, self-employed. This can include the partially self-employed like therapists who have a private practice on the side of their agency job, or side hustlers who offer services or consulting outside of their full-time, corporate or non-profit jobs. Or it can be the entirely self-employed, like therapists and coaches in full-time private practice or founders of small to medium sized companies.

Most of us were raised with the expectation that we would have a job and we were prepared by the schools to do just that.

We did work that was assigned to us and were graded on other people’s expectations. Unless you were raised by entrepreneurs, this kind of cog-in-the-organizational-wheel was likely the foundation of your understanding of work.

Now, just to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with thinking about work that way. I’m not saying that doing your part for the mission or finding safety and comfort in a large organization is somehow “less than.” And I’m certainly not saying that a job is somehow less demanding than being self-employed. In fact, the busiest people I know have jobs!

When you are working at a demanding job these days it tends to look like you are chipping away at a mountain of relational tasks (send this report to Anna, follow up if you haven’t heard by Thursday, re-send you’re availability to nail down a time to meet… and on, and on, and on). Anyone who has ever worked in consulting, or on wall street, or any number of other high-pressure, project driven careers knows exactly what I’m talking about.

For these people, who are largely managing incoming requests, working through projects they’ve been assigned, and trying to figure out timelines for when work can be complete, traditional time management is a HUGE RELIEF.

The most famous time management system is David Allen’s Getting Things Done (or GTD, as its called).

It’s a high-touch, super structured way to get your to-do list out of your head and managed. By following the tenets of GTD you can take the drama out of all those little commitments and find headspace for the strategic and managerial aspects of your work. It can be a lifesaver; it was for me when I was a consultant and drowning under the weight of 14 projects.

The problem arises when someone who is self-employed attempts to utilize a typical time management system to manage the messy interdependency that is their life and business and finances.

Here’s an example: A therapist tries to use GTD and within a few hours gives up. “I could never do all of this!” she begins, throwing her pen down. And, then (and this is the tragic part), “I guess I just wasn’t meant to do this. I’m so disorganized and such a procrastinator… If I can’t even get myself to do what I put on my to do list, I’m never going to make any progress.”

This happen because traditional time management programs don’t support you in considering the following stone-cold realities of being self-employed:

  • You might be over-committed on things that don’t matter and under-committed on things that would move the needle. Are you doing what matters or just keeping busy? How would you know?
  • You might not believe that you CAN do the things that matter. This usually sounds like “I’m not the kind of person who does: sales, marketing, promotion, math, book-keeping, speaking, social media, or exercise. When the only person deciding what you need to do is YOU (and not those organizational priorities), then your lack of belief in yourself will be a major hurdle.
  • You might be doing a poor job of managing your work-life balance. At least when you have a job people will sometimes encourage you to take time off. You have vacation that you’ll lose if you don’t use it, for example, or your company is straight up closed on Christmas and the 4th of July. If you are the only person deciding when you should work and you are in any way concerned about your finances, you are probably working around the clock, 365 days a year. This is not a recipe for success under any circumstances, but it’s especially devastating when the core of your work is vision-setting.
  • You might be working like an employee, instead of as a founder. One of the most important shifts required to succeed as a self-employed person, is to shift away from the default, job-based settings of our upbringing and move into an understanding of ourselves as the visionary for our business. When you are the founder of a business (instead of the single employee in your private practice), you know that the most valuable time is spent setting strategy: Figuring out what you want and why. Putting together the plan to move in that direction. Hiring people to help you get those things done. 

But what seems to happen instead is that the self-employed cast around looking for certainty from a boss that doesn’t exist. (Un)Fortunately, the internet is full of (ill-conceived, probably irrelevant) advice. Because we just want to be told what to do, we take on these expectations in an almost unconscious way. “Finally, here’s the checklist on how to do this the right way” we say, and then we run ourselves into the ground on the hamster wheel of “best practices” and “tips and tricks.”

These realities (which are DIFFERENT from the realities of our friends with jobs) are why any serious attempt at time management can result in panic.

Now, just to be clear, this doesn’t mean that time management isn’t possible for the self-employed.

It just means that your time management practice has to begin in a more foundational place.

We don’t get to start with a list of foregone tasks based on a job description or the guidance of a supervisor.

Instead, we have to dig in and build a messy, imperfect vision. What do you want you practice to be like? How many clients are enough clients? How much time off do you want? How important are those other areas of your life (health, family, adventure, friend)? 

It’s very important that you operate from a place informed by the answers to THOSE questions.

When that is in place, you will be ready to manage your time.

Simon says… why?

Yesterday, we worked to make our vision statement a little bit more concrete, moving from broad notions of achievement and accomplishment and into the moments of our lives.

Take a moment and look at your mind map, then write up a simple summary on the first page of the guide.

Bam. 1/3 of your strong vision statement, DONE.

This alone will amp up the power of our vision’s magnet.

But if you want to turn it into a rare earth magnet (the strongest magnet on the planet!) then we have to add the “Why.”

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Extract the concrete

This week we are spending some time thinking creating a vision for your business. While you were doing it, it’s likely that you felt motivated and excited. And yet, it’s also likely that when you were done, you weren’t quite sure what any of it MEANT.

In concrete terms, what are you supposed to DO?

Part of the reason vision exercises can feel so “froofy,” despite their clear and necessary place in goal setting, is that they don’t tell you what to do next. And without that concreteness, it can feel frustratingly like empty motivation.

To counteract that feeling, let’s do some brainstorming using what you came up with yesterday as our starting point.

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You *DO* know what you want

Last week I talked about how so much of what we seehearthink and do comes from what we are choosing to perceive. After sitting with that for a week I hope you feel, as I do, that almost anything is possible for you and your business.

Which brings us to the next obvious question:

What do you want?

Now if you are like most of the people I work with, this question feels enormous. It can immediately overwhelm you, and make you feel like you actually don’t know what you want.

But that’s not true. You DO know what you want.

I’ve had hundreds of conversations with therapists, coaches and other entrepreneurs where I ask them what they want for their business. At first they say something neutral like “I want to help people” or “I’d like to worry less about getting clients.”

And while I’m not arguing that they do, in fact, want these things (they absolutely do love to help people, and who doesn’t want to worry less?), I also know that there’s a whole lot more to what they want.

The same is true for you.

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Depends On Who You Ask

Today is the last day of our week-long foray into perception research and optical illusions!

I hope you enjoyed it- we all need a distraction right now! I LOVED hearing from you this week! Here are some things I heard:

  • The girl I can get to go back and forth by willing the foot back and forth. Have no idea how it works since the head also shifts with each way it turns. My answer is sorcery. It is sorcery. lol Will have to keep working on the dress. 🙂
  • Your daily catalyst today was wild!!! I was so solidly in the gold and could not stop trying until the FaceTime call with a patient. When the call was over I still had your post open on the screen and the thing was blue and black. Unbelievable.
  • IT’S YANNY. YANNY I TELL YOU! I can’t find Darth Vader.
  • I am trying to keep a positive perspective on this whole pandemic. These visual examples are a fun reminder of that!

It has been a fun reminder for me, too.

Perception research is “basic” research in cognitive psychology, meaning it isolates a single piece of the human experience and tries to figure it out without all the chaos that comes along with looking at a human in context. That kind of “messy” research is called “Applied Cognitive Psychology.”

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Hidden in Plain Sight

Hidden in Plain Sight

In our last we talked about the key to hearing Laurel and Yanny is to understand that both are there, but one is the “figure” and the other is the “ground.” I put quotes around them because they are visual terms and I don’t know their auditory equivalents. But today we are looking at the real thing!

One of my favorite optical illusions are figure/ground, or white space illusions. Here’s my absolute favorite of these- to my eye it is absolutely beautiful.

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how do you see that

How Can You See That?

“That dress is BLUE!” – 50% of people before the internet imploded

On February 15, 2015 something terrible happened. Half of the world’s population spontaneously decided that the other half of the world’s population had categorically lost its mind.

“Do you believe that she thinks that dress is gold and white? HA HA!” You said to a room of people you trust… but only some of them were nodding. Some of your very own friends, family and close-knit work crew were looking at you like you had somehow lost YOUR mind!

Brother against brother! Cubenate against cubemate!

It took the internet almost 3 full minutes to recognize that a perceptual battle royale was underway and turn it into a viral phenomenon bestowed with the internet’s biggest honor: people said it “broke the internet.”

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blogging on a daily basis

Six Lessons from ^Almost! Daily Blogging: A behind the scenes look

Today marks three full weeks of The ^Almost Daily Catalyst! Seth Godin has been encouraging me (and, you know, the other 4M people who follow him) for 2 years to blog every day, but it always felt like such a big ask.

I started as more of a blogger than a coach, then the coaching took off and the blogging dwindled to maaayyyybbeeee once a month. And yet, the call of regular writing was always running along in the background like an excitable little dog.

“Bark! Bark, bark!” he says! (That’s dog for “Hey! We could write a blog about that! And this! And that! We totally have enough to write every day! Let’s do it! It will be SO. FUN.”)

Unfortunately, those thoughts were being “managed” by these super “helpful” thoughts:

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Three secrets that grow your practice fast

The three secrets that grow your practice fast

In October 2018 I launched my first group coaching program. The group that came together was a fun-loving, passionately dedicated, extremely supportive crew.  Together we dove into refreshing websites, rewriting copy, getting out into the world, and generally going all-in on our private practices.

To our collective delight, everyone was full by the end of the program. Imagine that, will you?  We started as a group of people who had private practices and amazing therapeutic skills, along with a lot of confusion (and, if we’re honest, some fear) about whether and how to get clients.

The next round of this program (the Build Your Practice Accelerator) starts up in March and to prepare I’ve been watching our recorded calls, looking for clues about how and why the program worked so well. While I was watching, one of the mastermind members spoke directly to the mystery of it all:

“You know, it’s strange. I’ve been trying to figure out what we’ve been doing that has been so effective. I mean my website is a lot better and I’ve got all these ideas, and I’m enjoying the business side of having a practice for the first time EVER… but it’s not like people are mobbing my website and I’m not running around all over town networking with lead magnets… the only thing I can come up with is confidence… and clarity… and the fact that I’m actually doing something to promote my practice for once.  Do you think that’s all it is?”

Is my client right?  Is it ONLY confidence, clarity and action? And, maybe most pressingly, is the word “only” even appropriate in that sentence?

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