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The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 52

July 13th, 2014 6 comments

photo - Version 2This is the fifty-second and final post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here.

So, first of all, I’m kind of astonished that this happened.  The fact that I’m writing this post means two things (well many things, but two primary things):

  1. I actually succeeded in fulfilling my commitment to blog this journey for an entire year.  Let me assure you, this has not been an insignificant accomplishment.
  2. I’ve completed a year of entrepreneurship.  That is also not an insignificant accomplishment.

My intent today is to give a bit of a retrospective.  The things that have happened, the changes in my business, and what I’ve grown into and moved away from.

The biggest thing I’ve moved away from is fear.  Fear that things will fail, or fall apart, of that I’ll be completely doomed, or anything else.  That’s shown up in a big way in how I work.

There’s a scene in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, where Robin is battling Little John.  He jumps up out of the water, and pulls Little John into the water.  Little John starts to scream and shout, “I’m drowning, I’m drowning!”.

When he finally yields to Robin Hood, Robin calmly tells him, “Put your feet down”.  The water was shallow enough that he could simply stand in it.

That’s how I was at the start of the year.  Gasping for air.  Every referral that would come my way, I would gasp in like a man desperate for oxygen.  There was no enjoyment.  I was relieved when someone was referred to me (and very grateful too), and would make every conceivable effort under the sun to connect with them.  There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but there was no joy in it.  Further, it probably came off as a little bit needy, which isn’t much fun either (and frankly, it’s kind of creepy).

And lastly, that kind of approach gets in the way of you getting to see possibility for your clients and hold them at their highest and greatest.  If I’m focused on what I can get, it makes it really hard to truly serve someone.  Not what I’m committed to.  Not at all.

I realized myself that if you trust it and simply focus on providing value to people, you’ll survive.  All that gasping for air and flailing was keeping me from enjoying the process.

In terms of numbers or changes, that’s a little more intangible.  The big change that has resulted from that shift has been that I spend my time serving people instead of doing what “I have to do” to build my business.

So many coaches early on dogmatically state “I need to work on my website, I need to create my business card, I need to spend more time working on marketing”.  And then, ironically, they say “I hate marketing”.  (I know this is true because I train and coach new coaches).

The truth is, you don’t need to do any of that stuff.  If you want to be a coach, you need to get out there and coach people.  Lots of them.  Provide people value and change their lives as a result of the conversations you’re having.  If you do that, it’s inevitable that, over time, people will take note of what you’re doing and start talking about you.  All of that other stuff — that “marketing” — just gets in the way of coaching.  (Which is often why new coaches focus on it.  If nothing else, it prevents them from doing the scary task of coaching people when they’re new to it).

It’s the same for many professions.  I’ve coached public speakers and writers, and the same thing holds true.  If you want to get paid for public speaking, go out there and speak in front of groups.

A couple of people have asked me about tangible results at the end of this year.  I’ve struggled a bit to figure out how I want to share that, because what I charge is more a reflection of who I accept as my clients these days than anything else.  The power of commitment is really what allows for transformation — and I’m a demand that people really commit to what they want to create in their lives.

So, that being said, here are some of the tangibles:

  • My rates have tripled since I first began coaching
  • The majority of my time marketing these days is now spent over-serving and astonishing my clients as opposed to worrying about attending mixers and pounding the pavement
  • For the last 4 months, my practice has been full.  Recently two clients completed with me, and so I now have two slots available
  • The minimum commitment I’ll work with a client for has now doubled — again, because I’m committed to creating breakthroughs and transformation with the people I take on, as opposed to short-term solutions to problems

That may all sound well and good, but it pales in comparison to the internal work that I’ve done.  The stuff on the outside — the external tangibles — are merely reflections of how we’re showing up within.  Never lose sight of that fact.

And that’s the ultimate lesson from this year.  It isn’t about the externals and what you can point to tangibly.  It’s about how you’re being and what you are creating internally.  Don’t get distracted by the stuff on the outside.  Keep doing the inner work, and trust that the external stuff will come to you.

Because… it will.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series.  It’s been a crazy journey for me, and I’m now letting this blog sit a little bit while I devote more time to the book I’m writing.  Please check back to hear more about that, and in the meantime, check out Bay and I writing over at Evergrowth.

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The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 42 & 43

April 15th, 2014 No comments

IMG_2872 - Version 2This is the forty-second and forty-third post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

That’s right, I’m doubling up weeks again.  The theme this week has been all about the power that designing the life you want to create can provide you.

Most people go through life in the noise of ordinary and what they should do.  Even those of us that can’t see ourselves doing it often show up wowing other people, but always feeling like there’s just not something we’re nailing.

It’s the safe and the ordinary.  It’s comfortable, because there’s a predictability to it.  If we stay on our course, and shoot for a raise at our next performance review, we know that the worse thing that will happen is that we won’t get it.

As an entrepreneur, I know that the same thing can happen.  It’s easy to get some early profits going, and then incrementally increase from there.

But that’s boring.  It doesn’t lead to any breakthroughs.  It doesn’t create exponential results.

I’ve made wild declarations, and then acted so as to get myself there.  In the process of doing so, I’ve come up against breakdowns after breakdowns.  Those breakdowns that have actually allowed me to create something new on the other side of the old that was being discarded.

It’s not until we make powerful declarations and reach for something outside of what we currently know how to create that these breakdowns become possible.  Up until that point, they’re merely problems.

“Oh, my calendar is over scheduled.  Well, I guess I’ll just rearrange things and cut in to my exercise time.”

That’s fine, as long as I’m not holding myself accountable to win a marathon.  Until I make a crazy declaration like that one, this is simply a problem.  A speedbump that I overcome, and then revert to the old way of doing things.

But if I declare winning a marathon, holy crap, I can’t actually let that keep happening.  It’s a serious breakdown if my training keeps getting push out to make room for work.

You can see that the wild declaration and goal I set for myself actually requires that I break things up, and it’s actually going to create breakdowns.  What worked before no longer works.

That’s what I’ve been presenced to these past two weeks.  Set unreasonable goals for yourself, and hire the best coach you can afford to have you achieve them.

It’s that simple.

Speaking from the Heart – Part 8

April 3rd, 2014 1 comment

Time to put myself out there again.  My intent here is to actually own my own stuff as it shows up — not to be melodramatic about it.  I believe that we all experience these sensations from time to time.  It’s okay to have them, and the more we share and allow them, the more they can flow through us.  So here’s where I find myself today.

I’m bouncing in and out of fear like a pinball machine. I’m in breakdown (so I do declare) and realize I have been here for about three weeks, if not longer.

I need reassurance that I can actually achieve the big goals I’ve set for myself, and have a story that that reassurance ultimately needs to come from within — so what’s the point of even asking for reassurance?

My teammate, Brian, in San Diego, reflected to me that just because I’m on a journey to generate that trust and reassurance from within doesn’t mean that I don’t need some externally to support me as I move forward.

My coaching practice is full, and I’ve never felt more like my client game is in breakdown. I judge myself as not being a powerful enough coach for at least a month now. And, I can own that when I do, I quickly pave over the feeling by finding the things that I’m doing wrong. I set up complimentary sessions with new people, but those people aren’t really interested in powerfully moving their lives forward. They’re tourists — curious about what I do, but not so much in creating breakthroughs in their lives.

I can see the pattern, and yet don’t seem willing to choose something else.

I’m practicing slowing down, and it makes me want to run faster than ever before. “There’s more to do, I’m not doing enough, hurry up and get new clients you useless piece of shit, why the fuck can’t you generate anything, augh!” is how my inner voice rages away.  It’s an all-out war inside my head; a battle between peace and tranquility and my judgments and stories.

I’m sad. I’m sad that I am not experiencing joy. I’m sad that every bit of success feels fleeting.

My projects sit derelict, like half-constructed model airplanes sitting in my room as a child, and my metaphors feel like melodramatic facebook posts.

I’m embarrassed to share this with you — not because I’m having these thoughts, feelings, body sensations, etc. — that’s natural.  I’m embarrassed because I can see that I’m currently unwilling to let go of them.

You know what’s funny?  It’s the judgment about being unwilling to let go that is keeping me stuck.  What I can see is that if I simple let myself be where I’m at, things would start to slide forward.  As long as I hang on to the judgment about where I am and who I am being, nothing can shift.

I guess what I want to enroll *you* in is actually noticing where you do the same thing yourself.  Where do you find yourself in a certain place, and then rather than empower wherever you happen to be, judge and resent yourself for it?

Don’t bother sharing it with me though, I’m going to be over here kicking my own ass for where I’m currently at.

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 38

March 7th, 2014 No comments

photo - Version 2This is the thirty-eighth post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

(No, my sense of style hasn’t gone out the window — I’ve just been suffering with a cold as of late).

Sometimes, all it takes is a good run.

That’s this week’s theme.  With all the demands constantly besieging you as an entrepreneur, it’s easy to lose sight of the vision you started with.  If you’re not careful, your days can deteriorate into a battle simply to get yourself to inbox zero, address every damn thing coming your way, and get through this day (as well as the next one, and the one after that, and oh god they never end!)

The funny thing is that as an entrepreneur, your job IS to maintain the vision.  That’s what enrolls people to follow your leadership.  The vision is what inspires people to take up the mantle behind you, and to pursue your dream, even through the fear and the tribulations that are inherent in the work.

And, that being said, it’s still really easy to fall into the trap of forgetting this fact.  Today, someone cancelled on a lunch that I had set up, only minutes before I left my house to make the appointment.  It left me thinking “Oh geez, things are never going to work out”.  And when I get confronted with that story, I do what I always, predictably, do: I get attached and focused on doing.

Who else can I contact?  I better get in touch with thirty people to ensure we don’t fall into the abyss of failure.  Maybe I should reduce my rates.  I should probably say yes to all those other things too.  Maybe I should start looking for jobs as a lawyer again.

So.  Much.  Mental.  Chatter!

It goes and it goes and it goes, and my survival mechanism really just wants to grab a hold of it and get me doing stuff, because at least when I’m doing stuff, I’m moving forward.

But sometimes, all you really need is a good run.  The thing that I’m most likely to deny myself when I’m in the throes of it all (well being and space) is often the best medicine.  It’s funny how, as entrepreneurs, we deny the very thing that got us in to the work in the first place: our freedom.

The opportunity to be ourselves is what draws us to entrepreneurial work — and predictably, that’s the very thing we start to shut down and deem impossible (or worse yet, that there isn’t enough time for).

So when things get tough, remember: sometimes all it takes is a good run.

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 27

December 13th, 2013 No comments

IMG_2738This is the twenty-seventh post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

This week’s theme has simply been love.  My coach reflected to me at the start of the call that I seemed like a man in love with his work and his life.  She’s right.  Sometimes, this work is so rewarding, I can barely contain my love and passion for it.  Seeing people take on their lives in a big way is thrilling.  It is the purpose for which I am on this planet.

You know what else comes with love?  Heartbreak.  All my life, I’d put together sophisticated mechanisms to ensure that I never had to face the downside of being in love.  I kept my girlfriends at a safe distance from my heart, ultimately leading to problems of intimacy — if you can’t let someone into your heart, how the heck are you going to have real intimacy with them?  I kept other people out, and jealously guarded the word love.  That word was reserved only for my girlfriend/wife, and my family.  And even then, my family got to hear it only in e-mails.

That stuff doesn’t work as a coach.  My job is to be intimately connected with my clients, and to really get their struggles, their pains, and see what they are truly capable of.  That last part can be heartbreaking.

The loss you experience when you lose someone precious is an indication of how much loved them.  When I see how much someone is capable of, and they are simply too scared to step in to it, that creates its own heartbreak.

It’s okay that people don’t step forward into their power and who they are.  There’s nothing wrong with hanging out in comfort.  The challenge is mine to own — once I’m acquainted with what someone is truly capable of as the full expression of themselves, it becomes immeasurably difficult to see them step back from that and go back to comfort and avoiding fear.

The gift that that heartbreak brings is the same gift that my work has brought me overall.  It is all an indication of how much joy I experience in my work, and how much I love the opportunity to coach the powerful leaders that I do.  If you want to be in love, you can’t protect yourself from the heartbreak.  You must open your arms wide and let everything in.  Let your heart fill to bursting, even if doing so means that it may later all be taken away.

Love and heartbreak are both the gifts that come with living a full life.  If you avoid one, you avoid the other.

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 26

December 6th, 2013 No comments

IMG_2720This is the twenty-sixth (halfway!) post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

This week’s theme has really been about diving in and not letting fear stop us.  This entire journey is really based on that premise, but I’ve seen it reflected all over the place recently.

Clients come to me with many different reasons for wanting to work together.  More often than not, people don’t overcome the fear that they won’t be able to create a big enough difference to justify hiring a coach.

Other people get over the hump of investing in themselves, but then still hang out with their fears.  They show up each week with the same request, wanting to better understand why they are so scared and unwilling to take something on.

I think the biggest value I got from the first person I hired as a coach was when I went to them with the coaching request “I’d like to better understand why I’m so scared to coach my friends” (never mind that these days I simply won’t coach my friends).

His response was “Well, we can look into that, but is what you really want to actually coach them?  Because if so, that’s probably where we should focus our attention”.

Who cares why you’re scared of something?  As a coach, I certainly don’t.  What I care about is what you want to create.  Learning more about why we’re scared, while interesting, does nothing to move us forward.

If we want to move forward, we have to actually confront the fear.  We can get clear on what we’re actually avoiding, but that won’t change the fact that, if we want to grow, we have to stop avoiding that thing (or realize that it’s not really that significant in the first place).

I’ve succeeded in this venture beyond what I had even believed possible (achieving the goal I set for my practice in half the time I had declared) — and that is due to the simple fact that I have repeatedly been made present to my fears (thanks to my coach) and dived headfirst in to them.  If I was still practicing law part-time, I anticipate that my practice would be much less than half of what it currently is.

Whether you choose to work with a coach or not, you still have to confront your fears if you want to move forward.  A coach will make that far easier, and actually support you in doing so — but it doesn’t change the fact that you’ve got to do the work.

So quit waiting around. Have a conversation with me, get clear on what you’re avoiding, and dive in.

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 25

November 29th, 2013 No comments

IMG_2716This is the twenty-fifth (almost halfway!) post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

This week’s lesson was a very simple one: ASK

One of my very good friends, Steve Parr, has the word tattooed on his wrist.  When I asked him why, he told me that it had ultimately become something of a philosophy for him.  Ask.

If you’re curious, ask.  If you want something, ask.  If you need support, ask.  If you want someone to stop doing something, ask.

ASK

The theme this week with my clients (and therefore, presumably with me a well) has been that asking is too much.  It makes you appear needy, weak, like a failure, or like you simply can’t manage on your own.

You know what?  Maybe you can’t.  I mean, you probably can manage on your own, but I would assert that you really can’t achieve everything you want in life without support.  I’m not talking about the stuff that you’re allowing yourself to wish for because it’s “reasonable” (I hate that word).

I’m talking about the really juicy stuff.  The stuff that you don’t really talk about until I’ve asked you “Yah, but what would you create if there was nothing in your way” two more times after the first.

It all starts from asking.  Until you begin asking, you’re stalled.  You can take the long route, and hopefully someone will provide you what you want or need without you having to ask for it in the first place, but where’s the power in that?

Powerful people make requests.  Powerful people ask.

And I am committed to being powerful.

Susan Campbell’s book, Getting Real, is a must-read for anyone that wants to create more authenticity, connection and communication in their lives.  One of my favourite pieces from it, tucked away in the corner of the page, reads

Continue to express yourself, even when it seems you have little chance of getting what you ask for.

We must ask for what we want — not because we might get it, but because it’s a genuine expression of who we are.

So that’s it for this week.  A bi thank you to everyone that has been reading these posts up to this point.  Please share with your friends and in your networks.  It’s really hard to get exposure all by myself.

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 24

November 26th, 2013 No comments

IMG_2711This is the twenty-fourth post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

This post is late, because I went away on a vacation with my closest friends to this place.  What I’ve taken away from that trip, and the past week, is the importance of integration in your work as an entrepreneur.

We typically create silos in our lives.  We’ve got our version of work-Adam, who behaves differently (probably more professional and reserved) than party-Adam, who behaves differently (probably more outgoing and authentic) than-meeting-someone-for-the-first-time Adam (probably really interested in hearing everything about you – so as not to have to share anything about me).

I create those silos all over the place, and I notice that over people do as well.  As entrepreneurs, we’ll often tell you that the problem is that we don’t have enough separation between our work and our daily life.  We need more work-life balance, we exclaim, but what that really means is that we feel like we’re spending too much time working.

The real problem here is a lack of integration.  If we have to keep our work lives separate from the rest of our lives, it becomes really difficult to have it all.  We can spend X amount of hours working, and then we need to stop and change our focus.  And, if work makes a demand on our time, it comes at the expense of the rest of our life.

Integration means that my work is just a natural part of my job.  I meet up with people for minglers — not necessarily because I have to, but because I it’s just part of who I am.  I generate clients this way, but I also just get to go out and have fun.  I’ve integrated work-Adam with have-a-few-drinks-Adam.

The more we can integrate the parts of our lives together into one whole, the more we can have our cake and eat it too.

For entrepreneurs, the challenge is to actually have your work be a part of your daily life, but to also be intentional in creating time for yourself, and to do the things you love.  If you’re allowing work to take over every aspect of your life, you’ve the stop of integration and are now back into silos — the problem now being that you’ve let one silo grow far too large.

So there you have it.  Integration.

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 23

November 25th, 2013 1 comment

IMG_2710This is the twenty-third post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

I’m not really sure what lesson I learned this week.  I think the big take away has been that you never really reach any real kind of destination as an entrepreneur – the scale just shifts.

I know a lot of people fantasize about how different their lives would be if they won the lottery, or get that new job they’ve been after, or change careers, or finally get the boyfriend they’ve been pining for.  But I also know that that isn’t true at all.  Things won’t be any different, because you won’t be any different.

As an entrepreneur, the things that overwhelm me out or that I cannot be with don’t change simply because I’ve started bringing in a certain amount of income.  Just because I’m making X amount of dollars a month doesn’t mean I’m any less concerned about money.  The only that that has really changed is the scale.

The funny thing is that stuff happens when you give yourself and the universe the space to allow it.  For me it’s so easy to get caught up in the sheer amount of doing that I can step right over the opportunities for peace and tranquility that I’m looking for.

I’m trying to create flexiliby and dynamism in my life, but locking that out by continually doing more and more stuff because I’m entertaining the fear that I will fail if I stop.

Yesterday I woke up in the middle of the shitpit.  Everything was wrong and I was frustrated and grumpy.  Rather than try to fix it, I just chose to be a stand for authenticity.  Whenever someone asked me how my day was doing, I shared with them what I was going through.  Not from a place of victimhood and complaint, but from a place of having it distinguished that I just woke up feeling shitty and grumpy.

It was amazing what it allowed.  Instead of resisting it, trying to pave over top of it, or doing to remedy the problem, I just let myself sit in it, and shared it when it was appropriate.  By the end of the day, I was feeling fantastic, and had accomplished more than any other day that week.

So I guess what I’m taking away this week is that the real work isn’t what you think it is.  It’s not working 12 hours a day and converting your blood, sweat and tears into widgets, product releases and dollar signs.  The real work is actually about creating space for you to not do those things.

Today, I stand for stillness and space.  Give yourself room to expand.

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 18

October 13th, 2013 No comments

IMG_2663This is the eighteenth post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

You know what?  Sometimes you just have to throw a bunch of shit at the wall and see what sticks.

For the past two months, I’ve been resigned to the fact that I travel on Mondays and Fridays, twice a month.  That means that booking recurring appointments on Monday and Friday is generally a bad idea, because I will have to reschedule at least two of them every week.

For the most part, I prefer to have things that are recurring and consistent.  I believe in the value of ritual and routine.  There is comfort in routine.  It means that you don’t have to figure out what you’ll be doing at a certain time.  It means that I don’t have to waste time scheduling each month.  I can just schedule once, and be done with it.

Routine is great for coaching as well.  Many clients need help creating routines for themselves, and having a regularly occurring appointment with their coach provides some structure within which they can operate and be accountable.

In order to accommodate my travel, I’ve booked everything into Tuesday , Wednesday and Thursday, which has made for impossibly busy days.  Those days suck.  They’re tiring, I don’t look forward to them, and I am drained by the end of them.  It’s not the game that I’m up to playing.  It’s not why I went into this business.

Up until this point, I’ve been stuck, because there was no other option.  I travel on Monday and Friday, and I don’t want to work in the evenings, so what else was I to do?  I was doomed to have three days a week that were exhausting and no fun.

Whoa is me!

These past two weeks, instead of remaining a victim, I’ve been experimenting.  What if I only ever schedule my travel in the afternoon on Mondays?  If I did that, it would open up two slots every Friday (of course, it might mean that this writing doesn’t get updated until Sunday, but you’ll live with that, right?).

Sure, I get in to town later, and that might mean I’ll have less time to get settled in the evenings, but maybe that would be a reasonable trade-off for some extra space in the middle of the week.

What if, instead of dogmatically insisting that I don’t want to work in the evenings (and then end up spending those evenings vegetating because of the day I’ve had), I release my grip a little bit and allowed a coaching appointment that went from 6 to 7PM?  Sure, it will cut down on some of the things I could do during the week, but it would also open up an hour-long break in the middle of my day when I can go to the gym, play video games, relax, read, or do anything else.

It’s kind of funny, because whenever someone wants to step into the next big thing in their lives, they typically focus on what they would have to give up in order to do so.  As a coach, what I see is that they are already limiting what they want to create in their lives.  Who says you have to give those things up?  Why not play the game where you get what is next for you and get to keep the things you already value?

Up to this point, I’ve been resistant to taking on any of these things, because I’ve held on to my story that it wasn’t possible.  It was impossible for me to work in the evening, because I wouldn’t enjoy it, I didn’t want to, and it would wreck my precious evenings.  But maybe my evenings will actually be more precious when my days are a little more spacious.

Maybe some of this will work and I’ll have a new perspective.  Or, maybe it will be a disaster.  Maybe I’ll hate working my evenings and it really does end up meaning that I miss out on too much stuff.  Either way, it’s positive, because I’m trying something new.

Sometimes, you just have to throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks.