I've spent the day writing a stereotypical westernized business plan for the Red-Yellow Collective. The business launched a few months ago, but I find that I am narrowing the focus of my work more and more from OD consulting to coaching. Consulting is what I feel like I should be doing at this stage in my career, but I'm finding more and more that coaching is what makes me feel alive. So I've challenged myself to put a plan on paper that outlines a sustainable business model for a business that derives the majority of its income from coaching.
Now, if you know anything about me personally and how I work you will know that my least favorite thing in the world - just slightly behind poking myself in the eye with a pencil - is putting a plan on paper. Not because I can't and not because I don't see the value of doing... its just that that the act of doing so drains my energy.
I solve puzzles/problems/issues through a process I like to call mental gymnastics - a cyclical process of thinking, refining my thoughts, evaluating the current conclusions, gathering qualitative information, rethinking my conclusions, wash, rinse, repeat. It is a drawn out, non-linear process that will drain the energy of almost everyone around me but feels like total play to me. That style of thinking rarely lends itself to a stereotypical business plan. In fact, my ideal business plan would be a wall full of sticky notes that can be moved, changed, side-barred, and revisited as I spend weeks having conversations about "the shit on the walls." Then, once I've overthought the shit out of everything on the wall and placed all the sticky notes in the right places, some kick-ass pragmatist that could totally interpret the beautiful chaos would come along and put it all into a succinct, written plan.
Unfortunately I have neither the wall space nor the kick-ass pragmatist at the moment, though I am actively working towards finding both. Of course, to find either, I kind of have to have a plan... hence today's challenge. Such a demanding mistress, this business world we currently exist in.
What is helping me get through this day of flexing into a non-native style is the mindset I am carrying while doing so. Instead of lamenting having to create the plan, I started the day by affirming to myself that I do, indeed, have everything I need to create the plan. I have the knowledge, the vision, the tools, the wisdom and the desire.
I'm also time limiting myself - 30 minute blocks of writing interspersed with 30 minutes of play. It's a big ratio - just as much play and "wasting" time as working and, most likely, a ratio your typical boss would frown upon. Lucky for me my boss is fucking awesome and honors the natural rhythms of the human universe.
Lastly, I'm celebrating each completed section of the business plan like you would celebrate a three year old's first drawing. After each completed section of the business plan I take a step back and scream to the inner child in my head, "Look what we just did!" and then do a little mental jig. In fact, I very well may hang this mother f'er up on the fridge when I'm done.
Changing mindsets, allowing for play, celebrating... these are all behaviors that I am having to relearn now that I'm no longer in a typical job. In fact, I once got fired from a job for organizing a daily 15 minute putt putt golf game for my call center staff. (If they only knew how much more productive I was after each play break today, that same company would be paying me big bucks to come in and develop "play strategies" for them now. You know... had they not gone bankrupt. Coincidence? I think not.) I have actively had to recognize and name these good behaviors and stop shaming myself for them today when I reach for the phone and throw down a mean game of Yahtzee after the 50th iteration of a bullet point.
When I left my full time job my mentor suggested it might be a two step process. At the time I thought that meant grieving the loss and then moving on to create the future. I'm finding that my leaving process might just have an extra step - unlearning the behaviors I had to learn to function in the midst of dysfunction (which is typical of most workplaces - not just the one I left). I really, really do not want to recreate the reality I just left someplace else.
If you have ever left a toxic work environment for one that was not (or less so), what were the behaviors you had to unlearn to function where people actually - you know - functioned? Leave a comment below and help this office-PTSD survivor (and the other million out there) get a leg up on the future.