Recognise the Need to Employ
During March of 2016, I had reached an unprecedented level of frustration with my working situation. I was a team of one. A consultant, who on one hand was excited about a vision I had for my business, yet on the other hand, frustrated because I was no closer to achieving it. The consultancy work I was doing was spread across a number of sectors, providing a good income and was both professionally challenging and satisfying. However I had a much bigger picture of what I wanted to achieve and was making little to no progress toward it. This was creating significant tension in my life.
Around 2012, I developed a leadership model called The 15 Disciplines. I truly believed this was something that would help people succeed in leadership, as it had done for me for decades. To formalise this into something that would appeal to others, was proving to be very difficult. I simply could not prioritise it into my to-do list without it negatively impacting on my operational productivity and quality of work. I wanted to transition The 15 Disciplines into a leadership movement with a supporting program and a book. Similarly, I had written a concept paper on a program called Principals’ Roundtable. Once again, I was unable to prioritise the effort necessary to commence this program. Whilst there was no shortage of energy and enthusiasm for my future focused projects, I did not have the capacity to complete them.
My current operational commitments were typically ad hoc bookings, invoiced upon completion of the work and paid up to 30 days in arrears. This made cashflow a challenge and budgeting an everyday priority. It also made it difficult to raise the cash necessary to get ahead of the curve and invest in future focused projects. I knew The 15 Disciplines, the accompanying programs, the book and the roundtable concept would make my business far more sustainable. They would introduce structured work routines that would be booked and paid for in advance, thus improving the cash position of my business. I also knew I was trapped in a high-risk consultancy model where month to month revenue kept cycling from high to low.
Operationally, my productivity was good. I was delivering on my promises and my clients were satisfied to either refer me to others or to re-engage me for further work. My particular challenge was that I wanted to transition my business to something quite different that offered greater security, sustainability and hopefully greater personal and professional satisfaction. I couldn’t see a way forward. I had briefly contemplated typing seek.com.au into my web browser. I also engaged a couple of different people to coach me, however I felt after a few short sessions, that they were trying to lead me down a path they were familiar with, not necessarily beneficial to me. I knew I needed something to change, I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was precisely.
The next issue was the most difficult of all. I was grappling with fear; the fear of failure. What if my vision doesn’t work? Acknowledgement of fear and recognising the control it has on our thinking, is a major learning outcome in my own leadership programs. Anyone who has read my book The 15 Disciplines, would understand the hypocrisy in this situation. To add to this quandary, I knew employing someone was an ultimate reality for moving both myself and my business forward. I was apprehensive about that idea because I had previously employed people that didn’t’ work out. The separation wasn’t pleasant, and I was now gun shy. Clearly doing the same thing whilst expecting a different result was insane, so I needed to go about it differently. But how? Recognising the effect fear was having on my decision to employ someone, especially in a high-risk consultancy model, was an important conclusion to reach.
I didn’t reach this conclusion easily. To gain any sort of clarity in my thinking I always need to separate myself from the world around me. So, I selected a good weather day in March 2016 to ride my jet ski around South Stradbroke Island at the Gold Coast. I do this often to disconnect from the chaos of daily life and to reconnect with an extraordinary perspective on life. I like to consider this; it is truly extraordinary to be sitting on a jet ski on the side of a spinning ball, of which two-thirds is covered in water, and its tides are controlled by a moon. While this is happening, the spinning ball I am sitting on is rotating around another ball, every 365 days, which is a furious ball of fire. When I come to terms with that concept, more often than not on my jet ski, I tend to believe anything is possible. So, on that day in March 2016, I sat five kilometres offshore and consciously processed my situation. I recognised and acknowledged the symptoms in my life and reached the conclusion that expanding to a team of two will enable me to treat the cause of each of them.
I knew this would involve introducing greater risk to my current business model. However, after weighing up the pros and cons, I concluded the risk of employing someone was far outweighed by the risk of not employing someone. To set this person up to succeed, I first needed to paint a picture of what success in my business would look, act and feel like.