I have been a consultant for two years and like becoming a father, I thought I was ready for the change. I knew there was a lot I didn’t know, and I thought I knew more than I did! I had a grand plan, then realised having a plan and implementing a plan successfully are very different.
Why did I do it?
Throughout my professional life there have been influential people who took the time to develop my (Humanistic-Encouraging) effectiveness as a leader. A special few gave me more time than they needed to and showed me how to be humble and achieve outstanding results working with others (Humanistic-Encouraging).
A key piece for my growth as an effective consultant has been continually seeking to understand myself and challenging the inaccurate beliefs I had developed about myself over my life. This allows me to get out of my own way, understand my thinking and responses and focus on adding value to clients.
The work I do now allows me to spend more time adding valuing where I am best suited (Self-Actualising), with like-minded clients and colleagues (Self-Actualising and Humanistic-Encouraging).
- Valuing Self (Self-Actualising) – As a consultant, I understand the value I deliver clients tomorrow will be greater than yesterday, and the value I deliver in six months-time will be greater than the value I deliver tomorrow. Whilst achieving goals is important (Achievement), so is who you become in the process of striving to achieve them
- Have fun! (Self-Actualising) – I have learnt that when your head is down and focused on making ‘it’ happen, it is easy to gloss over the wins and learnings we experience along the way. I now make a point of having fun along the way.
- Value versus Time – A focus on delivering value with an outcome focus (Achievement) is more important than a focus on activity. Whether it be with the work I do with clients, or how I prioritise my own time and energy, there has been a shift from time spent on activities, to a focus on high impact outcomes and adding value.
- What is important in life (what I thought I knew and what I now know) – Money is necessary to meet basic security needs, and to allow us to enjoy some of the nicer things in life. The transition from having a decent steady wage, to becoming a small business owner with inconsistent income in the early stages has provided the lived experience that within reason, my level of income does not impact the satisfaction I get out of each day. Where I focus my attention and what I choose to do with each day however has a big impact on my satisfaction. Time is more valuable than money and how you spend your time reflects how you value yourself.
- Focus (Achievement) – Always challenge myself to deliver at a high standard – not perfection, often I notice I am not paying attention to minor details I would have stewed over previously that are not important to the overall outcome. As a consultant, having a bias for action and gaining results is critical. This one is a work in progress for me.
My home truth!
I was recently de-briefing my learnings from a team coaching session I facilitated, and he made a comment that rang true to me – “as a coach, it is about the client’s learning, not our teaching”.
Above all, being an effective facilitator and coach requires you to be vulnerable, it is not about having the answers (Perfectionstic). This involves entering a space with clients where you don’t know the answers, and this has challenged me. I have learnt that when I feel stuck and sometimes frustrated with a situation when coaching an individual, team, or group, I look inwards. It is easy and comfortable to label these situations as someone else’s responsibility; ‘they haven’t prepared for this session’, ‘they haven’t been listening’, ‘can’t they see what they’re doing’. When I find myself having unreasonable thoughts such as these, I recognise I am looking to meet my own needs of security and I reflect internally to uncover the limiting belief that is holding me back and limiting the value I can bring to the client in that moment. Over time I have understood the felt need to be right, to have the answers, and the appearance of being in control all reflect the way I see myself and an extrinsic link to my self-worth (i.e. my LSI 1). The problem with this is that I’m setting myself up to fail professionally and personally, and it can impact those around me if I project the same unrealistic expectations to ensure that I’m ‘ok’ in the world. Whilst this has become a subtle hook over time as my self-awareness has grown, as the complexity of the facilitation work I do increases, this subtle hook presents itself and is a reminder my LSI journey is ongoing.
As a consultant I don’t have the security and predictability of being an employee and in the early stages of starting a business, this is challenging. The personal growth achieved through engaging in challenging work and the satisfaction of working with like-minded clients is hugely rewarding. I know I can’t be everything to everyone and I don’t try to be, I am committed to learning from each engagement to provide greater value tomorrow than today. The journey is more important than the destination only when you take the time to appreciate it.