Start At Your Feet

Want a better life? Start upgrading your personal experiences and your health by improving the relationship you have with your feet.

Seriously, many of us don’t understand the vital connection between the science of healthy feet and our overall expression with all aspects of life.

Doesn’t it make sense that when our foundational base is strong (a.k.a. our feet) our ability to increase our performance and our joy is strong as well?

Consider the following metaphorical statements used by some who approach me for coaching:

  • I’m ready to take a stronger stand for myself.
  • I want to step up my game.
  • I want you to support me while I lengthen my stride.

Within each metaphor, an individual’s relationship with the foundational part of themselves is going determine the trajectory of their outcomes.

So just take a tiny risk and trust me. Accept at least one of the following four challenges and start enjoying a healthier and happier existence.

  1. Go put your feet into a fresh patch of grass. Stand there and imagine the gravity and anchor of earth attaching itself to the soles of your feet. Feel the fresh air above you. Allow the sky to touch the crown of your head and then reconnect to what it means to be alive by standing between heaven and earth while feeling the energy of life conducting through you.
  2. Purchase a pair of five-finger shoes or socks. This activity will wake up your toes. It will alert them that they can get smarter and more independent if they don’t rely on always being part of the herd we lump together into a regular shoe. Truly, you can revitalize your brain and your feet by helping your toes learn to move on their own again.
  3. Read the following blog and practice a few of the exercises recommended by bio-mechanist Katy Bowman.
  4. Or, purchase her book Every Woman’s Guide to Food Pain Relief and practice her suggested exercises on a daily basis.

I’d love to hear what you experience when you take on one of these challenges.

So, do you want a better life? Jump in feet first!

 

Taking the Power Back

Sometimes it is difficult to remain on the sideline when you witness a client running through a rough-patch. Life can be particularly filled with sensitive moments when this person is working through a career transition. The numerous changes and shifts involved can leave your client feeling hyper vulnerable.

And so it was when Victoria and I reconnected this past week. She had taken three fairly tough punches while in the line of duty. The result was a cumulative effect that we needed to work through in her session.

The first hit came when her fear of flying was tested in a terribly turbulent, white-knuckle flight from California to the East Coast. If your fear of flying is pitted against an almost non-stop bronco ride in the air, you need a recovery period after touch-down. No such luxury for the road warrior Victoria.

The second knock came as she immediately moved into a difficult client encounter.  It took everything Victoria had to finesse her way and her client’s progress through to a successful engagement. Cranking things out in this manner, after a rough flight left Victoria completely drained.

So when blow number three hit, Victoria felt extremely weakened and small. You see, upon returning home a seasoned colleague, who had left the consulting world where Victoria plays, published a blast in her newsletter to all consultants who are servicing the non-profit sector and the foundations who often support them.  Her argument is that foundations should be spending more of their money on nonprofit organizations themselves rather than on consultants.

And while there may be some merit in the writer’s concerns, you’d think a veteran consultant would know better than to pour poison on the very ground that sprouted her own career path. Not to mention not irritating the foundation world which helps pay her organization’s bills. However, I guess not. This was the most difficult part to watch Victoria encounter. When you are re-creating your work like Victoria is, you fling yourself back into those early stages of entrepreneurial -identification.

This is a place where you don’t yet have a track record established and you feel like a fraud.  And yet, you have to trudge through these stages of gaining new experiences and making a new name for yourself. You have to learn to apply healthy helpings of good, old persistence onto your plate and you have to eat every last bite.

Even without punches one and two, this blow hit such an underbelly-tender spot for Victoria that it was about to temporarily knock her off her feet. Thank goodness for check-in calls with your clients.

I listened intently as Victoria explained all this to me over the phone. The more her story unraveled the more intuition kept whispering in my ear: “time to take her power back.”

And that is exactly where our session concluded. Victoria felt a strong call to arm wrestle the positive energy flow back into her corner.

If you’d like to read how she worded her “take the power back” move, click here.

Victoria’s Response:

Lyn was tremendously helpful by letting me share my privately held anxieties in a safe setting. Her coaching helped me realize that I didn’t have to sit silent for fear someone would just discount my response as a self-serving consultant. It’s an ongoing theme (feeling the need to defend my work as a consultant in a field that feels we are all opportunists) as I try to become better at “putting myself out there”.  Thicker skin would help but until I grow that, I’ll just have to keep putting my best foot forward in spite of the insecurities.

Interestingly my post to the editor led to a comment from the editor which you can read when you read my comment – scroll all the way to the end of the comments. She assumes I missed her point. I did not. She also assumes that consultants make career choices because of incentives that lead them away from working in nonprofit organizations. My incentive was doing what I love – planning and strategy – in the field I am passionate about – the arts. There are no jobs for planners and strategies in nonprofit arts organizations, so I had to make my own career. Now I could reply to her reply. But I’m thinking about just picking up the phone and have a real honest conversation between two colleagues about the state of our field in developing strong organizations with a healthy workforce. That’s really the bigger issue.  I think if that were achieved, people wouldn’t care as much about how “the other half” lives. What do you think?

 

 

To start at the beginning of Victoria’s story click here.

Victoria and Building a Business Plan

In the process of re-creating her company and her work, Victoria has taken a deep dive into drafting a business plan. Using a crafty little, inviting book titled Business Model Generation she has added some juice to her efforts. Reading this book described the various sections of a small business that fit her thinking versus a standard business plan template. This new perspective seemed to fuel her ability to wrap her mind around the new business she is building.

This week she turned in a big piece of her new plan – a competitive analysis.

She also took herself through a budgeting activity that gave her several insights as well.

Left on her list is her is write up a section concerning her customer segmentation.

Victoria netted many wins as we checked in this week:

First she realized her current desired hourly rate really is the rate she needs to get/ask or in order to meet her reasonable, responsible annual budget. Said another way what she “wants” to ask is what her business “needs” her to ask.

Next, while she might not know all the “hard details” within her competitive analysis section, she has a cleaner view of the eco-system her company is growing up in. She has “enough” of an idea of what is in the environment already in order to begin establishing her differentiation and unique value proposition. She is clearer about which proposals would be good for her to write and which work to leave for others. As my mentor Marshall Goldsmith once told me in a private conversation:

“The successful individuals are those who know what they don’t do and are clear on those few things they do offer.”

All of the work she is doing will not only produce a business plan, it will clarify for her many things:

  • How she presents herself out there in the competitive world.
  • How she re-engineers her website to support her work.
  • How to create structure around what is truly her work and how she presents herself as a professional.

It helps her “see” that she is not just another “consultant” who threw a shingle out and starts looking for work. She is someone who knows how to do what is being asked because she knows how to find out what that is and uses her tools, experience and talent to deliver on it. She is creating a name for herself.

These outcomes were not anticipated by Victoria. Which also reflects back to me one of Ibarra’s tenets in her book Working Identity: We have to experiment our way into our next Working Identity.

 

Author’s Note

Not everyone I support within career transition coaching works as deliberately in the thinking mode that Victoria demonstrates. She is a wonderful case-study of re-invention for those who are analytical, driven and deeply interested in figuring things out intellectually. She supports the Creative Class in her work and yet is not someone I would classify as abstract, creative, … She knows things like what her overhead is. She knows how to hold the left-side of the brain facilitation in place while working with right-brain- dominates leaders and creative class members.  She does this to help them get to the next level within the field of Arts Administration. She loves the creative mind. She is sensitive to it and how it rolls out within the field known as the “arts” while also finding a way to support the business functions so needed in this industry.

 

 

To read the next entry of Victoria’s story click here. 

To start at the beginning of Victoria’s story click here.

Sizing up Her Elephant

We find Victoria standing on the edge of needing to write a business plan. The truth about business plans is that most entrepreneurs don’t write them.

Victoria is not “most entrepreneurs” and I’m not surprised to find her sizing up this task that often resembles eating an elephant.

I agree that she would benefit from writing a business plan. She is at the point of rebranding her reinvented business. Her new model requires formally joining forces with other teams and alliances. A business plan will be useful when promoting and attracting these types of relationships.

Due to the array of business goals and the endless variety of circumstance and scenario, there is not such thing as a standard business plan. Add to the mix that a business plan once written must not be allowed to go stale. It is advised to rework it each year or every other year. I offered Victoria a template I use with small businesses. It is a short, sweet version of eating an elephant.

On reviewing the template she realized that it’s not that much different than developing a strategic plan for a nonprofit organization, which she does as part of her consulting practice. The terminology used might be slightly different but the areas she needs to address are pretty much the same.

She looked over my offering and determined that she was going to give it a strong broad sweep. Meaning, instead of writing one chunck at a time (which most folks do) she would fill out the entire template with her first thoughts. That way she’d have at least a complete V 1.0 at the end of her efforts. Then she’ll go back and work on the chunks, always keeping the big picture in mind.

I’m happy to share a copy of my template with anyone who wants one. Simply request it by writing me at lyn@soulsalt.com and placing “short biz plan” in the subject line. Below you’ll find other reasons that an entreprenur might want to write a business plan. They include:

  • Attract potential partners and funders needed to grow a business.
  • Support you in evaluating the strengths, weaknesses and viability of alternatives for your company.
  • Provide you with critical documentation necessary for a potential buy-out.
  • Provide you with a baseline comparable to measure growth against in years to come.
  • Provide you with clarity and a roadmap. Just as writing up a proposal helps you think through a potential engagement, writing up a business plan helps you thing through a potential business structure.


 

And in conslucion I’d like to reiterate my originial statement about the entreperneurial tendency to not write a business plan by sharing a snippet take from Inc. Magazine:

One question in this year’s survey of Inc 500 founders asked whether they had written formal business plans before they launched their companies. Only 40% said yes. Of those, 65% said they had strayed significantly from their original conception, adapting their plans as they went along. In a similar vein, only 12% of this year’s Inc 500 group said they’d done formal market research before starting their companies.  Seat of the Pants, by Sarah Barlett, October 15, 2002.

At the end of the day it all comes down to each individual needing  to size  your own need to eat an elephant… or not.

 

 

To read the next entry of Victoria’s story click here. 

To start at the beginning of Victoria’s story click here.

 

Applicable Lessons Found Along the Hedge Hog Path – Victoria

How, or better yet, when does one validate the inner call to change one working identity for another?

Often we make the shift to leave an employer or a career several months before the transition actually occurs. These early inklings start to stir internally until they shake out into action. Once again we peek in on Victoria’s transition and see where those early inklings have turned into today’s reality.

I want to wake up in the morning energized to start the day because the work that lies ahead is engaging and full of promise. I’ve learned there is a difference between doing what I’m good at (considered a strength according to Gallup) and doing what I’m good at AND what I love to do. It’s what I refer to as a Hedge Hog Strength. I spent several years as a consultant taking work on that I was good at but not what I loved to do because it assured me of income. But within a few years, I reached a point at which I was no longer waking up with excitement and I was cranky about my clients. Not good.

Through a process of re-engineering my career I’ve slowly returned to a place of waking up excited to get to work. I’ve gotten re-connected with my Hedge Hog. What I’ve learned along the way is that generally when you are waking up in the morning and doing what you love, it’s because you are working to your Hedge Hog Strengths. In general strength has hallmarks. Something that is considered strength is an activity you can complete consistently. It means that your performance is predictable.  Time after time you demonstrate how well you can perform. You do things effortlessly which leaves people asking “how do you do this so well? You make things look so easy.

But be careful. It’s easy to get caught up in what others think of you and confuse strength with a Hedge Hog Strength. I have strength as a grant writer. I built a piece of my consulting work around it. I was consistent and predictable at developing proposals that were well written, on deadline, and got funded. Time after time I was demonstrating how well I performed this strength whenever I took on a project because someone said I was good at it and they needed me. But I was never in love with grantwriting.  People will tell you what they think you are good at and if you let them define you because of fear (if I don’t take on that grantwriting I won’t be able to pay the mortgage) then you may be working to a Strength, but you are hijacking your ability to find that work that makes you excited to get up and working to a Hedge Hog Strength.

The desire to re-engage my Hedge Hog required a full on effort to re-engineer my working identity and re-imagine myself at work. I engaged a coach and read the books, did the mind-mapping and turned my Hedge Hog Strength of strategic planning on myself and I’ve realigned with my Hedge Hog  – partnering my strengths with my passions. My consulting practice has been re-focused on planning and capacity building for organizations and for people (as a coach). Over the last 9 months I’ve had two planning clients and one organizational assessment project and NO grantwriting. I’m building the coaching practice and have a few irons in the fire.

This morning (after a successful client planning retreat yesterday) I woke up early with all kinds of ideas about how to move my client forward and I couldn’t wait to get out of bed and start my day. Oh what a difference that Hedge Hog makes.

 

 

To read the next entry of Victoria’s story click here. 

To start at the beginning of Victoria’s story click here.

 

Living in the Storm of the Neutral Zone

The oscillating space between what you’ve done in the past and the recalibration of what you’ll do in the future often involves choppy waters. We call these choppy waters the neutral zone of a working identity transition.

While in this zone it’s important to remember that the process of finding a new working identity should not be compared to digging around in your head for a single hidden treasure. We are not looking for that “one true thing” you can become. Instead, finding your way is comprised of a collection of explorative journeys within a variety of possibilities. All these possibilities begin in the realm of ideation and brainstorm.

Part of my job is to support the client through this choppy time by taking these ideas and concepts and converting them into actual single steps or small projects we call “experiments”.

These experiments give you a chance to step into a possibility to sense how it feels. We never know what will happen while experimenting, yet I can guarantee that each one informs us by offering up a piece of concrete – a block of experiential knowledge that informs future experiments and can be built upon.

Through her past connections and conversations, Victoria has been able to germinate three potential experiments.

She describes these as such:

  1. My coaching work with nonprofit arts professionals is slow to grow in part because people in this low-paying industry don’t always have the funds to pay for a coach even when they want one. I recently received an email with information about an opportunity for young arts professionals in California to apply for coaching scholarships. I will send out one of my bi-monthly communiqués with information about this funding source. The hope of course is that they will use any grant monies to hire me, but I know that simply sharing the information is an act of good will that is important in and of itself.
  2. I’ve been developing a program to support first time executive directors of in the nonprofit arts sector. I recently got a nibble from a national arts service organization that is interested in helping me pilot the program. They could provide me with fiscal sponsorship which would enable me to apply for project development grants, marketing support to get the word out about my product and the use of their distance learning software to create online courses. I’m not sure how this will play out, but knowing that a major player in my sector believes in the concept and wants to help is a terrific first step.
  3. A coaching client has been using Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People for some of our work together. It has excited her so much she’s been talking with her colleagues about it. She suggested I start a leadership book group using this book for her and others like her – she indicated that she and her colleagues would be willing to “pay me” to create a group to help them work through it together. Music to my ears.

 

When we change our career and we reinvent the manner in which we work we can’t follow conventional wisdom. No amount of self-reflection or pondering can substitute for jumping in and taking action. Once you jump in, as Victoria has, your vision becomes far more informed from that experiential vantage point. So if you are working on a career change, pull your head out of diving into the depths of thought. Plunge your entire self into the act of doing something.

To read the next entry of Victoria’s story click here.

 

To start at the beginning of Victoria’s story click here.

Victoria and the Entrepreneurial Two-Step

Victoria returned from her conference victorious! She completed every networking connection on her schedule for the event but one (the woman rescheduled for a time after the conference). And she fulfilled other obligations and her role as a facilitator in a manner that exceeded expectations.

She also used a strategy that I am passing on as a useful and wise way to get new business traction. She attended fewer sessions as a participant and increased the time she could budget for prospecting with those at the conference.

Once she returned home Victoria was able to turn her well-honed discipline away from the process of networking for future clients and toward the necessity of earning a living.

The final days of June find her finishing up a report that she has been hired to complete.

The Entrepreneurial two-step in this case is her continual cycle of earning an income at the same time as gaining contracts for future income.

Sometimes we have to focus big chunks of concentrated time on each one separately as Victoria has. Other times we can divide the hours in a day or a week between the two. However, both must be accomplished.

As always Victoria, listen to your own inner “sense” as the final word on deciding what must be done and when and keep working smart.

 

 

 

To read the next entry of Victoria’s story click here. 

To start at the beginning of Victoria’s story click here.

 

 

 

Matt Is Nimble Matt Is Quick

Say the name Matthew Landis at a party or gathering place in Salt Lake City and heads will turn.  Two salons bear his name, thousands of Aveda advocates have been trained by him, local TV spots feature him, several businesses in the area have been branded by him and the list goes on.

Personally, Matthew is a delight to know and a rock star to coach. Within the first twenty minutes of meeting him I had a hunch that his career transition (hedgehog process) would move quickly. “Quickly” has become an understatement.

Never in my 13 years of coaching has anyone been so prepared to blow out of their outgrown perspectives and a “past work life” in order to dive into deep professional transition.

Primed for this next chapter, Matthew had determined two years ago to create a more sustainable life for himself. He sold his home. When we started working togetehr he stepped away from a draining commute and a job that was no longer exceptional.

Today we are leveraging Matthew’s name-brand recognition within the salon industry by contracting out his training and coaching abilities. We’re honing in on his value in the TV spots by clarifying his sexy new brand. And his intense intelligence and broad experience is partnering up other entrepreneurial minds to create business offerings and models in the beauty scene that have not existed before. Already, in five months Matthew’s coaching is propelling this bundle of creativity, love and learning to his next level.

I could go on, and on about Matthew. However, it might prove interesting for you to hear directly from him where he’s been compared to where we are now in his transition:

I have worked and trained in salons from Salt Lake, New York, Atlanta, and to Miami.  I have opened several spas and salons, and helped many friends with their small businesses.  I know how to attract good, talented people, and what it takes to keep them happy and provide them with incentives and opportunity to take ownership of their lives and their careers.  My real gift, however, is helping people to reach success and find that inner strength to guide them where they want to go.

Lyn was right – I was ready to jump.  I knew that I wanted something different from my career and my life but I needed someone to bounce my ideas and thoughts off of.  It’s clear to me now that I have been in this a major life transition for several years now. Lyn and the coaching process have been a tremendous help in facilitating and finding that greater sense of self and purpose that was inside me the whole time.  I was so used to creating change in my life by jumping off cliffs, sometimes to good effect and sometimes not.  This process has been experimental and methodical at the same time.  My biggest challenge now is that I get so excited I wanna change the world in one fell-swoop, but I’m learning to sit on my hands and breathe first.  I firmly believe everyone needs a coach of some kind.  I’m so, so, so glad I found mine.

As you follow Matthew’s story on this blog just know this: If we make too big of a transition too quickly, we risk leaving a chunk of financial gain and personal satisfaction on the table.

Our challenge in this engagement will be to keep an eye on the speedometer, and navigate the tight turns and twists along the road. Watch out world, Matthew Landis has just left the starting gate.

 

Prioritizing What Matters Most in the Moment

Coming into today’s coaching session Victoria is preparing to work at a conference that is happening this week. Her roles (she has many) at the conference are varied and critical to growing her new business.

I was delighted that in the whirlwind preparing for this event she pulled out a tool I have developed and had shared with her earlier in our engagement. I call the tool Today and Not Today and have released it this year as an I-phone app see: http://appsq.com/app/5a8s/today-and-not-today.

Victoria pulled out the paper version of this tool along with a bunch of sticky notes. As she worked through the weekend this tool supported her so that she cut through what might otherwise have been an overwhelming list of things to do.

Members of the Creative Class take note: just because a big event like this conference is looming, it doesn’t mean that your mind conforms to focus on just that one goal. Putting boundaries around what absolutely needs to be done and when it needs to be done is the key. All of what could get done must be relegated to background noise.

In Victoria’s words, “I had to recognize when enough is enough.”

What reinforced itself for me as Victoria spoke was this: Putting something on the backburner doesn’t mean it will be there forever. Exerting self-discipline to focus only what matters most requires this backburner approach.

I’m wishing Victoria luck this week. As you can see below she has a strong list of services she currently offers as part of her bridge to the future. And, she has a nice set of offerings that are being presented at the conference. If something catches your fancy, you might want to send her an e-mail and expect to hear from her next week rather than today.

One on one coaching;

Executive coaching for

professionals; and Retreat and workshop facilitation to support personal and professional development.

Areas of Expertise:

 

  • New leaders and first-time executive directors
  • Transitions (career and personal)
  • Leadership development
  • Aligning values, priorities and actions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To read the next entry of Victoria’s story click here.

To start at the beginning of Victoria’s story click here.