As a coach I used to often ask my clients a question to enable them stretch their perspectives on their career and business – "if you had a completely blank piece of paper, (i.e. no existing baggage) and could create a business you really authentically wanted to be doing, from the inside out, what would it look like?"
A few months ago, I actually created that opportunity for myself. My wife is originally from Australia and has always been keen to move back there for a while. So we decided to do it. The whole family moved to the Sunshine Coast in Australia with the intention of staying for at least a year. For me, work wise, it meant leaving my two businesses that I had spent 10 years building and starting afresh in a place where I had no client base or business connections. Coupled with that, during the last 2 years I shifted the grounding behind my work away from NLP and traditional coaching to the much less well established work of ‘The Three Principles’ i.e. there was no existing receptive ears to what I do. So not only would I need to find clients from scratch but also educate them on something that they had no current awareness of or desire for. What an opportunity. I was really looking forward to be able to start from scratch, and develop a brand and positioning that didn’t have the legacy of what I used to do.
Well-meaning associates and friends warned me how challenging setting up a new business in a new country would be, and how I would really need to work flat out to get some clients so I could earn enough to make a living. Especially because the area of Australia we were going to be in was quite provincial and not one of the big cities. But it didn’t feel like that to me.
Although I had my doubts, and in low quality of mind moments I thought about how much easier it would be to market my previous, more ‘mainstream,’ approach. My work is my family’s sole income, so I knew couldn’t go too long without earning. But I knew deep down that I didn’t want to have any other conversations with my clients than the fundamental pyscho- spiritual conversation about the building blocks of what creates our experiences. I didn’t want to compromise my approach just to make it ‘easier’ in the game of life.
But what actually happened was fascinating. It felt freeing, natural and almost effortless. It didn’t (apart from in the occasionally wayward moment) feel pressured and insecure. I did toy with a few different strategies, (partnering up with others, targeting just the big corporates, or the small SME, just doing private client etc.) but it fairly quickly became clear that what worked was when I had an opportunity to have a conversation with someone who was open minded and wanted to talk about their life or their business and then I just connected with them. Now, I didn’t initially have the opportunity to have that many conversations of that nature but when I did my ‘conversion’ rate was very high. People said yes more than I remember they used, there was less to and froing and it felt quite easy.
Why? Because I was less emotionally attached to the outcome. Which is odd as I was really in need of some paying clients, and while I had a vague background intention that anyone could be my client, I wasn’t overly invested in making that happen. When it felt right to shift the conversation to a more commercial bases, I would offer that, or they would ask me. I just wanted to talk and connect and wasn’t trying to sell
Being present, connecting from a space of clarity of grounding and with an intent of service, seemed to make an impact on people. What is also wonderful was I didn’t work very hard! I was enjoying my day, exercising, spending time with the kids, enjoying the weather and when it occurred to do some business development or ‘work’ I would. I was probably working half the hours I was in UK. A typical day would be up at 5.30am with the sunrise, go for a long cycle come back for a couple hours work, nice break in the middle of day, play with the kids, bit more work afternoon early evening, bed by 9.30pm. I didn’t wear a watch, the mobile rang very rarely, I wore long trousers for less than 5% of the whole year, and rarely had a client meeting not sitting outside near the water. A far cry from the London rat race….
Occasionally, financial concerns would pop in. Australia has a higher cost of living than London in terms of food etc. (it still amazes me what they can charge for milk and bread!) but my family were having fun, and so we didn’t feel the need to spend extravagantly. So despite the occasional low quality of mind urge to change and ramp up my efforts, I knew building connections and relationship was my business development strategy, and forcing it would be decreasing the effectiveness of my connection.
So to some it might feel contrary – as in the one phase of my life over the past 20 years where I had the most need to find and win business to earn money, I felt the most relaxed and calm about it. Well for me, there is difference between being committed and focused, and attached and emotionally invested. I could have done it the hard way and no doubt I would got some work, but a) my impact with my clients would be less, and b) it wouldn’t have felt so enjoyable and effortless.
Now of course you don’t need a move to the other side of the world to enable your realisation about how to more effortlessly and successfully build a business. It took that for me to really prove it to myself. I had seen glimpses of it previously, but I felt I had never really tested it, when it ‘mattered’. But I have now. And it looks to me like you can have your cake and eat it – you can create a business without having to get emotional invested it. You can have that elusive work life balance. Now could I earn more money, or become more successful doing it the other way? Quite possibly. But it would be coming from a different space, my moment by moment experience of life would go down, and isn’t that the opposite of why we are doing it all in the first place?