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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 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 22

November 8th, 2013 No comments

IMG_2686This is the twenty-second post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

Two big victories for me this week.  First, my coaching practice filled up.  That’s right.  It’s full.  I have the number of clients that I set out to create.

Second, I qualified for the position I’ve been acting in as a leader in training with Accomplishment Coaching (“AC”).  AC is, in my opinion, the finest coach training program in the world, and I’m honoured to be working with them and sourcing this work.  There is a tremendous amount of awful training programs out there, and I am committed to training coaches that are truly excellent (spoiler: that requires more than $650 and 48 hours).

The lesson this week is in the face of those victories.  In my work, I’ve had many team members hit a goal that they set for themselves, and then stop.  They needed a certain amount of clients to qualify, hit that number, and then stopped applying themselves.

Entrepreneurs are sharks.  We eat what we kill, and we need to keep moving.  If you have stopped, your business is deteriorating.  It’s that simple.

Now this alone would sound like fairly miserable news (or at least like it’s coming from a workaholic).  But what I’m advocating is not that you never take a break, but rather that, as an entrepreneur, you must make generating clients, or business, a part of your daily routine.

Even though my practice is full, I continue to connect with people and provide complimentary sessions.  In part, I do this because it’s what keeps my business going and my pipeline filled.  The bigger reason, though, is because I love providing the service that I can to people.  It doesn’t matter if the only time I ever interact with someone is in that complimentary session I provide them.  I know that I can change the way they are currently looking at their lives in that moment.

That is why I do this.  It’s not about the money, and it’s not about what I can get.  It’s about what I can give.  And by making sure I always keep my focus on that, I simultaneously continue to build my business, and get to do what I enjoy.  By devoting time to both building my business, working with my clients, and breaks and fun, I get to have my cake and eat it too.

So, in short, the lesson for this week?  Create the both/and, instead of the either/or, and keep on moving.

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 16

September 27th, 2013 No comments

IMG_2626_2This is the sixteenth post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

Here’s something I heard a brilliant coach say recently:

“The fact is that you’re right about the work.  There is an endless amount of work to be done.  The amount of service that you can provide the world is never-ending, and will never be complete.  If you can understand that (rather than accept, which suggests there’s something wrong that you must learn to live with), then you will be able to shift your thinking and create something different”.

That was Steve Chandler, responding to me asking him about the struggle I was facing with regards to my time.

Here’s another one:

“The quality of your life is a directly related to your ability to be with uncertainty”.

That was Tony Robbins, talking directly to me, through the television camera that was aimed at him.

Both of these messages resonate with the idea of letting go of control.  When I suggest this to my clients, they recoil in horror (high-performance professionals are generally experts at controlling processes to ensure desired outcomes).

“If I give up on control, it will be chaos!  Disaster!  Nothing at all will go my way!”

In those moments, it’s so easy to see the context within which they’re operating.  They don’t even realize that they’ll never actually lose their remarkable ability to control things – they’re just going to be practicing something new.  They’re going to be expanding their scope.

Then I turn around and have the exact same conversation with my coach.  After all, it’s different when it’s you right?  Today, it’s not about control, it’s about my time and commitment.

I’m right in the middle of my conundrum right now.  I’ve committed to continuing my work training coaches, and also struggling with the fact that it consumes a massive amount of my time and is a net loss in terms of revenue (travel to the States twice a month is not cheap, no matter how much you scrimp).

Normally, I would just operate over the top of resign: “Fuck it, I’ll just do it anyhow”.

I can still do that – I always have that option.  I just want to expand my scope and try out something new.  So… I don’t know where to go from there.  Unfortunately, awareness doesn’t create the solution — it’s just the first step.

Right now is the tough part: being aware of the bankruptcy of the old pattern, without having a clear idea of the path out of it.  Here’s something another wise coach once told me:

“Our job as coaches is to get them [understand them], then coach them or leave them.  Sometimes, your job is to leave them in their muck”.

Right now, it’s my turn to sit in the muck.  Don’t worry — it’s not a bad thing.  It’s just what’s next for me.

See you next week.

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 7

July 26th, 2013 No comments

IMG_2434 - Version 2This is the seventh post in my epic journey of going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

This post comes to you from Gate 9 of the Victoria International Airport.

The week was… a blur.  At the end of last week, I was asked if I was interested in taking on a leadership role for our training team in San Diego.  After some deliberation and saying yes, things shot forward into action and preparation, without any consideration for the fact that I have a business to run in the meantime.

Because of how fast things moved forward, I experienced the full range of emotions.  I had one week to book a flight and accommodations, start getting to know the new team, rearrange my schedule and figure out what all of this meant for us financially.

Flying to San Diego isn’t cheap, nor is finding accommodation in the middle of Comic Con.  Doing all of this while on an already tight budget makes things complicated and scary.

But fear is there to let us know when we’re stepping into possibility.  I’m not getting chased by a tiger here.  I’m scared about my own inability to generate.  I’m scared about my insecurities.  Those fears are normal, but they’re not in service of what I’m up to next.

With the support of Bay, my coach, and other people on my team, I went through the process of excitement, fear, getting clear on the worst case scenario, really understanding what failure looked like to me, and realizing that it really wasn’t as bad as my head was making it out to be.

My head is a great tool, but it often gets in the way when I let it run free in situations like this one.

In between setting the stage for what was next and actually executing on it, I generated a new client, had some great times out with friends and chatted with my friend Stacey on her podcast.  Without creating altitude, all of that becomes invisible and falls by the wayside – all I can see is the fear.  With support to actually get up out of my stuff, I can gain a bit of perspective.

So, while a few weeks earlier the lesson I took away was that there was an abundance of support available, provided you ask for it, this week’s lesson was that you need that support.  If you really want to take on something as big as that vision in your head, you need the support of others.  As entrepreneurs we work to do it all ourselves (and it’s not always bad having that mindset) – but the simple fact is that no one achieves something great without a lot of support.

The support is available; sometimes the hurdle is actually allowing it.

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 6

July 19th, 2013 No comments

IMG_2461This is the sixth post in my epic journey of going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

This week was characterized by a sense of having spare time in my calendar and still feeling like everything is a rush.

I reached out to Steve Chandler, a coach that I was introduced to by Lisa Peake.  He’s written a ton of fantastic books, but the one that has consistently held a halo of light on my bookshelf is The Wealth Warrior.  There is no book that scores higher on the edge test than the Wealth Warrior.  I frequently find myself reaching for it in the middle of a coaching session and quoting passages to clients.

Much to my surprise, Steve wrote back almost immediately, offering his time and suggesting a time to chat on the phone.  In between that e-mail exchange and our phone call, he had his partner send me over ten hours of audio content, and two eBooks.  True generosity and service!

So I’ve been on kind of a Steve Chandler kick this week.  Some of the things that he’s provided me are the ideas that we actually create more by subtraction than we do by addition.  When we remove things from our list, and allow ourselves to focus on that which really matters, we then start to create real prosperity.

I’ll be honest – I’m struggling with this concept.  I suspect it’s pretty natural to be where I am.  I want to remove things and pair down.  To simplify and make things lighter and more fun.  And, I want (wait, is that need?) to make more money.  I want clients.  I love this work, and I want to serve as many people as possible.

That’s the other side of Steve’s philosophy.  If you want to be a coach, focus on being of service to people.  Make a bold difference in the lives of every single person you meet.  Whether it be at the grocery store, a party, or a business mixer – make a bold difference.  Serve them in some capacity.

So, with my eagerness to generate income for my business, the natural thing is to try to be of service everywhere.  But that doesn’t really serve me, and as a result, it doesn’t really serve other people.  My ability to deliver is strained.  I can only show up 75 percent, because the other 25 percent of me is focused on my calendar and what is next.

So that’s where I’m currently struggling.  I’m not quite sure how to shift out of it, but it’s something for me to work.  Reduce, so as to increase.  Subtract, so as to grow.

Steve put it beautifully when he described Michaelangelo’s process.  He didn’t start with a slab of rock and begin adding bits and bobs to it.  He carved out the pieces that were irrelevant to his vision, and in doing so, created elegance, beauty, and simplicity.

I’ll tell you, I love connecting with like-minded people.  Even if you have no interest in coaching, if you’re an entrepreneur that can identify with any of these struggles, I would love to hear from you.  Either post a comment, or send me an e-mail.

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 5

July 12th, 2013 No comments

IMG_2435 - Version 2This is the fifth post in my epic journey of going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

This week’s lesson was that I have flexibility now, and, as long as I’m willing to empower it, I will enjoy my days more when I use it.

By the end of last week, I was feeling pretty fed up.  I would get up at six to go for a run with Bay, come back, hustle to get everything put together, usually coach someone at 8:30 or 9, and then begin hurriedly going through the rest of my day.  I finished around 5, and then had the rest of my evening.

I was begrudgingly getting myself into bed by 10:30 or so each night, which felt too early.

This week, I took a step back and gained a little bit of altitude.  Isn’t it funny how I was stuffing my work day into the same 9-5 paradigm that I had reacted against and resented prior to this venture?  I’ve even tweeted links that speak to the fact that the 8-hour workday is a vestigial relic, and no longer particularly beneficial in the modern era.

One of the things I place a very high priority on is my sleep.  It’s the easiest thing for us to skimp on (you know how you say you can function on six hours of sleep?  You’re wrong) and also one of the most important things not to.  Sometimes Bay gets frustrated with me, because we will intend to jog in the morning at 6, but not get to bed until 11.  I insist that I’m not getting up until 7, and that’s how it goes.

So this week, I stuck to those same guns.  When I wanted to stay up a little bit later, I did.  When I wanted to work out, I stopped what I was doing and went for a jog.

When I exercise, I gain presence.  When I give my body something to focus on, it gives my mind a free pasture in which to roam.  Running along streets physically allows my mind to run through meadows, metaphorically.

So look, it’s not a complicated lesson I’ve learned, but actually applying it requires that I come from a different place.  If I’m coming from never doing enough, there’s no room for this kind of flexibility.  All that exists is the stark fact that I’m not doing enough.

Being flexible requires standing in a place that gives me access to something greater than that. A place like holding myself as a leader of leaders.  That guy – that leader of leaders – he lives his life in the way that best epitomizes and sources the person that he wants to be in the world.

And that’s what I’m committed to.

Hey, do you like all this free content?  I like writing it, but it is a lot of work.  Work that I gladly take on during a day that I could otherwise spend doing marketing or client development.  You can support me by doing one of two things:

  1. If you haven’t done a complimentary session with me yet, ask for one.  (How awesome is that?  The way you can support me is by allowing me to support you); and
  2. If you have done a complimentary session with me, refer someone to me.  Sure, I know you’ve got a ton of significance around what it means to make a referral like that, so let me help you come from a different place.  Here is what you are saying when you refer someone to me: Hey, you’re someone I respect and look up to, and are up to really big things.  Adam is a guy that works with people that want to create massive things in their lives, and you might enjoy chatting with him.

Thanks for reading and check back next week.

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 4

July 5th, 2013 No comments

IMG_2436 - Version 2This is the fourth post in my epic journey of going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

This week’s lesson was that it is way more fun to focus on giving rather than getting.

A huge part of my business is that it expands on the basis of referrals.  There’s no substitute for word of mouth.  I could put up advertising, but people that find their way to working with coaches rarely do so through billboards or ads in the phonebook.  They ask their friends, they ask their co-workers, and they get recommendations.

I can ask people for those, and I do, because it’s important to share who we are, what we do, and what support people can provide us.  But at the end of the day, asking people for something is way less fun than just providing them with a service.

When I shift my focus to being of service, it makes everything else lighter and easier.  It’s hard to ask for things.  That doesn’t means that we shouldn’t – but I can acknowledge the fact that it’s not my favourite thing to do.

Giving a service to someone is a gift.  It’s fun giving gifts.  They don’t have to accept it, but it feels good either way.  I also don’t have to be attached to someone accepting or rejecting a gift.  Sure, I’m surprised when someone isn’t interested, but that’s all it needs to be.

The challenge I face is the story playing on repeat in my head.  It goes something like this:

  • “You didn’t do enough today.  You should have done more.”
  • “Who cares if you coached five people today and wrote a blog post?  Your inbox isn’t empty.  You should have that empty before you end your day.”
  • “Why are you taking a break to play video games?  You should be working more.”

In some ways, my boss is an epic dick.

As you can imagine, the real challenge for me is accepting that that is just a story.  I’m doing more than enough, but you can see how that story would conflict with focusing on giving instead of getting.

Being of service means giving to people without any expectation of return.  It means providing a service to people with the understanding that that alone will build my brand, reputation, and credibility.  For someone like me that is so results driven, there is a direct conflict with the fact that you do not receive anything immediate when you give to people.

And so that’s what I’ve been grappling with this week.  Getting really comfortable with that story. Realizing that it’s been the thing that has gotten me to where I am, and allowed me to do things like graduate from law school and coach training at the same time, and build a coaching practice while working as a lawyer.

That way of being has helped me do a lot.  It’s just starting to get in the way of what’s next, because if I let that voice take over, my job stops being fun, there’s no longer room for mid-day bocce games, and I start to dump my own performance pressure onto everyone around me.

No one wins that game.