What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…
It’s 10.00am and I have a skype call lined up with a friend of a friend called Rekha Kent. Rekha moved out to Kenya 5 years ago with her family and went through her own journey of starting a new business from scratch out there. I was referred to her because was getting into a bit of a panic about how long things were taking to get going. I fully expected she’d provide me with some much needed, comforting reassurance.
What I discovered at the beginning of the call was that Rekha is an experienced coach and facilitator (that’s the basis of her business, Redstone Consulting). As it went on, our call turned into an incredibly valuable coaching session from her to me, which is eversomuch appreciated. Thank you Rekha!
Here’s roughly how it went:
REKHA: It took me a few years to get things off the ground. I remember how worrying it was in the early days, wondering where the clients were coming from and how we were going to pay the rent. Tell me, what stage are you at?
LINDSAY: I’m working with some colleagues, although I’m the only one full time, to take Mirror Mirror to marketing. It helps teams build clarity and alignment on their shared current reality – or ‘where they are now’ so that they are better prepared to move to the next level, whatever that is.
REKHA: Ok, that sounds interesting. But why are you doing it? Where did this come from?
LINDSAY: I think it’s amazing that teams can hope to transition to a new place while they are facing different directions. If you think about alignment, it’s about where people’s perceptions overlap. And that’s how it works – we capture perceptions then reflect the whole picture back to the team.
REKHA: You’ve told me what it is and a bit about how it works, but I want to find out why you are working on this?
LINDSAY: Um… You mean, why am I running my own business?
REKHA: Or why are you running THIS business?
LINDSAY: Oh, well I suppose it’s something I felt the need for years ago. I worked in project communications for a time and would be in a team, realising that the guy with tons of knowledge and insights is always running around so you never get the chance to speak with him. Then finding that your colleagues are kind of busy, caught up in emails and getting stuff done so you don’t really find the opportunity to connect. As a communicator that was almost paralysing. I just wanted to organize the mess: for everyone to stop for a second and merge their brains.
REKHNA: Right, yes.
LINDSAY: From experience, I know that teams can wade around in a kind of woolly ambiguity for months, years – as if it’s a totally acceptable norm. They run on unconscious biases, assumptions, and misinterpretations – all of which causes so much lost value. Look, we know that most people make sense of their world at work via their direct managers – yet media communication inside organizations undermine this as a managerial responsibility. Internet and email ‘messages’ can so often create the illusion that communication is ‘in hand’, dilute the real meaning and authenticity, and create mistrust and confusion. I imagine a world where media ‘messaging’ for employees doesn’t exist at all. If you use an efficient, structured process to allow people in a team to get to a shared understanding, it can save so much time. Mirror Mirror is the only tool that does this – links engagement with context in a measurable, repeatable way!
REKHA: Now that’s more like it. That resonates with me so much more than just hearing a description of how your product works. Believe and connect with your ‘why’ because that’s the reason you’re doing this – it’s what makes you passionate.
LINDSAY: But I can’t winge on about my gripes with Internal Comms as a sales pitch…
REKAH: Yes, you can if you reframe it positively. You’re helping to make things simple. You’re saving people time and money – that’s a great pitch.
LINDSAY: Yes, of course. This seems so obvious. You’re coaching me aren’t you?
REKHNA: And no need to get so frustrated that it takes time. I once heard this story about a man on a boat. He was getting agitated and unhappy with the fact that the sails weren’t full of wind and the sea was flat. The boat was floating along in a seemingly aimless direction and he didn’t like it. He could have had more faith, enjoyed the amazing views and just steered the boat to where he felt the wind would pick up. Sometimes you just have to do what you can do, and accept the rest.
LINDSAY: That’s such a good analogy. Very good (smile).
REKHA: And you come across better to customers if you hear their needs, accept that they might not be in the right place for you and respect that. It’s a lot about timing, luck and other factors that you can’t control.
LINDSAY: Yes, I like that.
REKHA: And you say you’re working with colleagues but it’s mainly you, isn’t it.
LINDSAY: Yes it is – but I suppose I’m a bit nervous. Team development isn’t exactly my field, that’s why there are other people involved.
REKHA: But it’s about clarity and alignment, that’s communications – and that is your field. Do you know who and what support to draw on when you need it?
REKHA: Then you need to own this as the leader who does that.
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