Category Archives: Uncategorized

img_0253

Advertisements

Lindsay’s In Business: PART 75: Plugging In

business freelancer start new year

Photo by Gerd Altmann on Pexels.com

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…

People say that when you’re pioneering a new business idea, the first years are dominated by trying to figure out how what you’ve got fits into the market.  Enquiring, adjusting, repositioning, reconfiguring, testing…

What I find most difficult about that process is that all you’ve got to go on is insights from people with different perspectives and your own experience.  Then having gathered several points of insight, a logic forms and you are convinced that finally, you’ve hit upon THE RIGHT way to plug-in to the market. Your gut tells you that the way you have shaped that logic around what people want MUST be right; that what you have WILL fit the customer need x for reason a, b, c…

After that, you get closer to execution and find MORE insights that contradict / refine / show how what you previous thought wasn’t quite right, after all. Although with these new insights, you are getting closer to the real plug in, circling around like this is confusing.  A question sits staring at me:  how can you trust your gut instinct when you keep being proven wrong?

The answer surely is that you need data.  But no-one’s done any research to answer my specific questions.  I’m not about to embark on a 4-year academic study either.

The little quiet voice in the back of my head that is wisdom tells me that impatience is ruling over my gut and my brain.  I’m so eager to get this out there (I thought it would take 6 months – we’re now 3 years into the process) that my motives – to get this done quickly – are influencing my interpretations and my judgement.

What would it look like if I approached this as if I were a clean sheet of paper?  No expectations, no pre-conceived notions about the process, no desires to have whatever emerges fit my personal timescales?

I would simply let it happen. God I’d like to learn how to do that. I have an inkling on how to go about that….

Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying this journey a lot, I feel safe – like I know if I stick to this path success will happen – in whatever form – but god-damnit I FEEL INESCAPABLY RUSHED!! Why?!

Anyway, here’s how the plugging in process has unfolded over the past months, step by step:

Mirror Mirror is a methodology that helps people in teams get more cognitive and behavioural alignment so they can deliver better together.

Which teams?In companies (in Europe) where there are market innovators with budgets.

In what kind of situations?In complex situations where there is more need for people in teams to align.  Specifically, emergency response teams / safety teams / IT Security teams / teams in post-merger and acquisition environments / teams in need of strategic clarity / teams in need of agile ways of working.

Several weeks of talking to people to test these hypotheses go by

What priorities are you working to – where will you target?Teams in need of agile ways of working.  There’s such a philosophical crossover and there are many agile consultants looking for new tools to support teams outside of IT.  There’s a huge opportunity there.  Feels right!

Many weeks of presenting at agile conferences and events to gauge reactions go by

What was the market reaction?  They’re all interested and say it’s great, but none seem to want to go further or ask about how they can get hold of this.  I don’t know why that is.

More weeks go by enquiring about what’s behind that response.

Did you find out more?  Apparently because Mirror Mirror asks questions about context and behaviour, agile consultants don’t have experience in that space and see it fitting more into HR.   They probably perceive it as being outside of their territory.

What now?I’ll move on to another market area.

Which one?   Teams in the post post-merger and acquisition (M&A) environments because the benefits would have such high value in this context.

Wait.   News in from helpful contact deep into the agile space.  Apparently Agile COACHES have a broader role than consultants and may well want this.  Don’t rule it out.  I chase up a contact from the conference who is running training courses to see what she thinks.  Meantime…

Where will you start with the M&A area?  I’ll contact anyone I know to get advice and do some research.

Several weeks go by as I get appointments and referrals and write to people speculatively.  One of my contacts goes sour as I explain why I think traditional communications promote disengagement, which was a driver to develop Mirror Mirror.  I realise afterwards I effectively told her that her work was meaningless.  Oopsie.

Apart from that, what happened?  Most people said it sounded great. I got a few hours of research done by a freelancer on Upwork who found white papers to say that 23% of M&A failures come down to poor team integration.  I then discovered that the word ‘integration’ isn’t just about people, it’s also about processes etc.  We need to use the phrase ‘cultural integration’.  And overall, talking to people in general, the general feedback is positive.  There’s a lot to gain, there are budgets.  We decide to proactively target this area. Feels right!

So how are you going forward now?  The work we’ve got coming up after the summer will give us a great case study in this area so we can use that to attract attention.

So that’s it? Well, 2 weeks ago I met with a new contact via LinkedIn who manages M&A transactions. He put me in touch with a guy he knows who is very experienced in the integration phase and I had a long call with him the next day (so nice to get accessible advice!).  The news is that while cultural integration is seen as important, it doesn’t tie into the bottom line and practically no meaningful team cultural integration activities take place.  There are no budgets allocated and plenty of HR people with their own tools, ready to swoop. It’s a no-go area.

What do you think about that?To me, it’s no go but it doesn’t mean there’s no opportunity. If deal makers can be convinced of the ROI (return on investment) and see how quick and effective Mirror Mirror is, there would be fertile ground because like I say, we deliver great results and are unique in that. This is about creating the market. I bounced that off against an ex-colleague of mine who I remembered also works in that space. He agreed but said the whole field is laden with political issues as people lose jobs and as others get pay-outs. It’s not top of mind for that reason.

What did you decide?Better to leave this whole area until we can evidence the business benefits with great case studies and come back with clients telling fantastic stories about us as a pull rather than a push.  Back to the drawing board on getting more evidence-based case studies : (

OK – what next?  I just trained up 15 potential delivery agents in 5 countries having developed a free 2.5 hour training.  WOW. Amazing insights. The small consultancies want to buy licenses and our reports service – and would need help with delivery for multiple teams; while there are TONS of experienced freelancers looking for work within our framework (because they’re sick of corporate life). They’re keen to get innovative, effective offerings and be subcontracted to existing projects.   They’ve got what we don’t have – credibility, existing networks and if they use Mirror Mirror, they’re not selling it as their own product. CERTIFICATION IS OUR THE ROUTE TO MARKET!!!!

Now I’m convinced – this feels spot on.  As I look at other HR licensed tools of course they’re doing the same thing.  I can’t be wrong –can I?

Mirror MirrorWe identify and close alignment gaps between people in organizations to improve engagement and performance.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

Dancing With Anxiety: How To Stay On Course When The Fear Comes

by  

The past few weeks we have been exploring the power of vision and purpose, as well as the resistance that kicks in when we begin to take steps towards achieving what’s truly important to us. This resistance is often underpinned by fear (fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of success…), the physical manifestation of which is usually felt as anxiety. Physiologically, the stress response is necessary and healthy – our body and mind began to step up a gear in preparation for a new challenge. This is what Mel Schwartz callsthe stress of engagement, but when this moves into distress, then we begin to feel the symptoms exhibited by the 40 million Americans who experience anxiety every year. By anxiety we are not referring to nervousness or excitement, we are referring to the matrix of negative thoughts, emotions and physical responses that impede our ability to think clearly, feel authentically, and react positively.

Mild and occasional anxiety is a normal part of life; chronic or acute anxiety are extreme manifestations of this state and can severely limit our ability to attain, or even envision, our goals. Yet, this is not a war. As with all forces, the harder you push against anxiety the harder it pushes back. Paradoxically, the way to work with this fear-based reaction is to think of it as a dance: bring it close and work with it, don’t try to push it away. The best way to do this varies from person to person, but here are five steps to help get you there:

1- Get to know your body’s response to anxiety
Everyone has a different experience of anxiety, but it almost always has a somatic element to it. For some people it feels like snakes in the belly, for others like a heavy weight on the chest. Some people suddenly have light, empty limbs. Whatever your body’s response is to anxiety get to know it and learn to spot it. Your body will often tell you more accurately than your mind how you are feeling.

2- Learn your triggers
Use your growing ability to spot when you’re feeling anxious and make a note of what was happening just before you noticed the anxiety. What was the trigger for this feeling? Was it something in your environment? Was it another person? Was it a thought? Whatever it was, learn these triggers and identify what you can do to minimize them in your life.

3- Catch your thoughts
The most regular triggers of anxiety – yet the most difficult to spot – are in your mind. Thoughts are subtle and, unless you’re intentionally trying to witness them, usually go unnoticed. Becoming aware of your thoughts in the present moment gives you greater insight into the thoughts that trigger anxiety. It also gives you the opportunity to change how you respond to those thoughts. Nothing builds this ability more effectively than mindfulness practice.

4- Breathe it all in
Breathing is a direct way to manage anxiety as it is happening. By altering the way you breathe you are able to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, eventually bringing yourself back to a sense of calm. Two simple but impactful breathing practices for anxiety are:

The balloon breath:Take a deep breath into your solar plexus. As you inhale, stretch the diaphragm open like a big rubber band. Instead of releasing the exhalation, hold it back against your gently pursed lips and let it out slowly (like holding the end of a balloon). Try to relax your chest and diaphragm while you exhale. The exhalation should be 4 to 5 times longer than the inhalation. You can slowly count if that is helpful (by Peter O’Hanrahan).

Square breathing (also called box breathing): As the name suggests, this breathing exercise can be visualized as a square in which the inhalation, hold, exhalation and hold are all of equal lengths. To begin with, make each four counts:
Inhale to the count of 4
Hold to the count of 4
Exhale to the count of 4
Hold to the count of 4
Repeat until feeling relaxed

5- Change how you think about stress and anxiety
We have become so conditioned to think of stress and anxiety in a negative way. This makes intuitive sense – when our system is on high alert and chronically flooded with cortisol and adrenaline we have an adverse physical response. We burn out or, at the very least, begin to operate at less than our best. Anxiety about stress generates more stress but research suggeststhat if we change our mindset to think about stress as something positive, it reduces our anxiety and improves our performance. This isn’t self-deception – stress is a natural response with many positive benefits. Regarding it as such – a tool to use in taking effective action in the world – allows space for greater acceptance and even gratitude, rather than aversion and avoidance.

 

Visit Koach.net to discover how our coaches can help you find clarity at work and at home, and can lead you to a more successful and fulfilled you.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

Lindsay’s In Business: PART 75: Plugging In

shallow focus photo of road

Photo by Matt Hardy on Pexels.com

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…

People say that when you’re pioneering a new business idea, the first years are dominated by trying to figure out how what you’ve got fits into the market.  Enquiring, adjusting, repositioning, reconfiguring, testing…

What I find most difficult about that process is that all you’ve got to go on is insights from people with different perspectives and your own experience.  Then having gathered several points of insight, a logic forms and you are convinced that finally, you’ve hit upon THE RIGHT way to plug-in to the market. Your gut tells you that the way you have shaped that logic around what people want MUST be right; that what you have WILL fit the customer need x for reason a, b, c…

After that, you get closer to execution and find MORE insights that contradict / refine / show how what you previous thought wasn’t quite right, after all. Although with these new insights, you are getting closer to the real plug in, circling around like this is confusing.  A question sits staring at me:  how can you trust your gut instinct when you keep being proven wrong?

The answer surely is that you need data.  But no-one’s done any research to answer my specific questions.  I’m not about to embark on a 4-year academic study either.

The little quiet voice in the back of my head that is wisdom tells me that impatience is ruling over my gut and my brain.  I’m so eager to get this out there (I thought it would take 6 months – we’re now 3 years into the process) that my motives – to get this done quickly – are influencing my interpretations and my judgement.

What would it look like if I approached this as if I were a clean sheet of paper?  No expectations, no pre-conceived notions about the process, no desires to have whatever emerges fit my personal timescales?

I would simply let it happen. God I’d like to learn how to do that. I have an inkling on how to go about that….

Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying this journey a lot, I feel safe – like I know if I stick to this path success will happen – in whatever form – but god-damnit I FEEL INESCAPABLY RUSHED!! Why?!

Anyway, here’s how the plugging in process has unfolded over the past months, step by step:

Mirror Mirror is a methodology that helps people in teams get more cognitive and behavioural alignment so they can deliver better together.

Which teams?In companies (in Europe) where there are market innovators with budgets.

In what kind of situations?In complex situations where there is more need for people in teams to align.  Specifically, emergency response teams / safety teams / IT Security teams / teams in post-merger and acquisition environments / teams in need of strategic clarity / teams in need of agile ways of working.

Several weeks of talking to people to test these hypotheses go by

What priorities are you working to – where will you target?Teams in need of agile ways of working.  There’s such a philosophical crossover and there are many agile consultants looking for new tools to support teams outside of IT.  There’s a huge opportunity there.  Feels right!

Many weeks of presenting at agile conferences and events to gauge reactions go by

What was the market reaction?  They’re all interested and say it’s great, but none seem to want to go further or ask about how they can get hold of this.  I don’t know why that is.

More weeks go by enquiring about what’s behind that response.

Did you find out more?  Apparently because Mirror Mirror asks questions about context and behaviour, agile consultants don’t have experience in that space and see it fitting more into HR.   They probably perceive it as being outside of their territory.

What now?I’ll move on to another market area.

Which one?   Teams in the post post-merger and acquisition (M&A) environments because the benefits would have such high value in this context.

Wait.   News in from helpful contact deep into the agile space.  Apparently Agile COACHES have a broader role than consultants and may well want this.  Don’t rule it out.  I chase up a contact from the conference who is running training courses to see what she thinks.  Meantime…

Where will you start with the M&A area?  I’ll contact anyone I know to get advice and do some research.

Several weeks go by as I get appointments and referrals and write to people speculatively.  One of my contacts goes sour as I explain why I think traditional communications promote disengagement, which was a driver to develop Mirror Mirror.  I realise afterwards I effectively told her that her work was meaningless.  Oopsie.

Apart from that, what happened?  Most people said it sounded great. I got a few hours of research done by a freelancer on Upwork who found white papers to say that 23% of M&A failures come down to poor team integration.  I then discovered that the word ‘integration’ isn’t just about people, it’s also about processes etc.  We need to use the phrase ‘cultural integration’.  And overall, talking to people in general, the general feedback is positive.  There’s a lot to gain, there are budgets.  We decide to proactively target this area. Feels right!

So how are you going forward now?  The work we’ve got coming up after the summer will give us a great case study in this area so we can use that to attract attention.

So that’s it? Well, 2 weeks ago I met with a new contact via LinkedIn who manages M&A transactions. He put me in touch with a guy he knows who is very experienced in the integration phase and I had a long call with him the next day (so nice to get accessible advice!).  The news is that while cultural integration is seen as important, it doesn’t tie into the bottom line and practically no meaningful team cultural integration activities take place.  There are no budgets allocated and plenty of HR people with their own tools, ready to swoop. It’s a no-go area.

What do you think about that?To me, it’s no go but it doesn’t mean there’s no opportunity. If deal makers can be convinced of the ROI (return on investment) and see how quick and effective Mirror Mirror is, there would be fertile ground because like I say, we deliver great results and are unique in that. This is about creating the market. I bounced that off against an ex-colleague of mine who I remembered also works in that space. He agreed but said the whole field is laden with political issues as people lose jobs and as others get pay-outs. It’s not top of mind for that reason.

What did you decide?Better to leave this whole area until we can evidence the business benefits with great case studies and come back with clients telling fantastic stories about us as a pull rather than a push.  Back to the drawing board on getting more evidence-based case studies : (

OK – what next?  I just trained up 15 potential delivery agents in 5 countries having developed a free 2.5 hour training.  WOW. Amazing insights. The small consultancies want to buy licenses and our reports service – and would need help with delivery for multiple teams; while there are TONS of experienced freelancers looking for work within our framework (because they’re sick of corporate life). They’re keen to get innovative, effective offerings and be subcontracted to existing projects.   They’ve got what we don’t have – credibility, existing networks and if they use Mirror Mirror, they’re not selling it as their own product. CERTIFICATION IS OUR THE ROUTE TO MARKET!!!!

Now I’m convinced – this feels spot on.  As I look at other HR licensed tools of course they’re doing the same thing.  I can’t be wrong –can I?

Mirror MirrorWe identify and close alignment gaps between people in organizations to improve engagement and performance.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

Lindsay’s In Business: PART 74: A bit personal

 

photo of person standing on rocks

Photo by Stijn Dijkstra on Pexels.com

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…

This the back story, right?  What I write in these blogs isn’t what I share with my clients and potential clients. It’s not relevant to them, actually. Maybe the odd one or two might come across one of these blogs.  And that’s ok.  I’m ok with being open – as you might have gathered.

In fact, the core values of Mirror Mirror are respect, openness, inclusivity, empowerment, integrity and wellbeing.

While I’m at it, to refresh on the Mirror Mirror vision and mission:

Vision: Team alignment is widely used for organizational effectiveness and Mirror Mirror products lead the market.

Mission: We free people up from unnecessary cost and frustration at work by helping to close the alignment gaps that hold them back, so they can get on with doing great stuff together.

I get so motivated when I read that! I can feel the excitement in my stomach.  The Mirror Mirror methodology really delivers something fundamental and valuable.  Where is a team if it is not aligned, after all?

The size of this opportunity – to provide a structure so that people can get on top of this is where my motivation comes from.

Yesterday I ran my first Mirror Mirror training session in my kitchen , with 4 experienced people.  I’d given them pre-read materials via a free learning site to prepare with.  The objective was to have them able to explain and deliver Mirror Mirror independently. It was a good session. They all gave great feedback and talked about the clients they could introduce this to. Setting that up was a bit of a stress actually, but I got great guidance from Steve and Judy at Rees McCann– expert online facilitation and learning consultants. So pleased it worked out well.

But at the same time, I have that damned feeling of dread again.  We have 2 big contracts lined up for after the summer, but we don’t have any other clients firmly lined up. The pipeline looks ok but I’d like to see maybe 3 or 4 extra companies trying out Mirror Mirror this year.

We’re back to that quiet, arid, barren place, trying not to look needy.

Now, I left my last big corporate job, I was burned out.  I was teary, upset, I couldn’t sleep.  My doctor said it could be due to pre-menopausal symptoms. I went on the pill and that was 5 years ago. Then last month, I thought I’d try life without it.  I wanted to see where I was in the menopause.  I wanted to get rid of the headaches I get quite regularly that could have been caused by the pill.

Now, 5 weeks later I’m in regular hot sweats, I feel emotionally more vulnerable, and often wake up at 4.00am. It’s strangely debilitating and must be affecting my work.

I confess that I turned 50 recently – a number that I still find to be far too big (I feel about 32) – so the question is: do I brave it out, or go for hormone replacement therapy?

Then it struck me.  Maybe the feelings of dread I get – I got those more frequently in the early days of the business – are exacerbate these two pre-menopause symptoms: mood swings, anxiety.

I look back on those phases of dread, and I try to look objectively at the ‘dread’ I feel now, wondering why it was such a drama. Even if the feeling of dread is connected with a real reason to be afraid, if the course of action is not to run (to close the business now and find something else to do) but to deal with it, then I need to deal with it!

Moving the feeling of dread away isn’t burying my head in the sand and deluding myself it’s ok, it’s putting it into perspective and not letting it hamper me.

For me, the most difficult (and important) part of doing something big is self-management. It seems to have taken ages for me to learn these now obvious things:

  1. Take responsibility for yourself
  2. If you’re tired, get some rest – don’t be snappy or attribute any meaning to it until you’ve recharge
  3. Eating well boosts your energy and makes you feel like you want to eat well again
  4. Exercising boosts your physical and mental health if you regularly just do a little – like walking
  5. Putting things into perspective always helps everything
  6. Don’t criticise yourself too much, don’t be over-confident but find somewhere between the two
  7. Accept yourself as ok while still pushing yourself to go further and learning how to be different
  8. Accept other people as all being ok too – while not having to necessarily be in their lives – it’s about having respect for their validity
  9. Don’t feel obliged to do something that doesn’t serve you, unless it’s a choice you have made to help someone else
  10. Do your best to keep your good friends – forever.

Apparently, it takes a few months after coming off the pill for your hormones to return to where they were, naturally.  Wherever that is. So, I’m going to brave it out.  I’m not going to take any hormone pills and will just manage it.

For now, I’ll take tip number 6 from above, and put ‘dread’ back in its box.

Mirror MirrorWe identify and close alignment gaps between people in organizations to improve engagement and performance.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

Lindsay’s In Business: PART 73: Warmth

multi color painting

Photo by Anni Roenkae on Pexels.com

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…

I am feeling a deep sense of warmth.  Like I know I’ve won a big prize, but it hasn’t been announced yet. Let me just revel in this, if you please. I deserve to bask in this warmth.

The warmth comes from knowing I have 2 big contracts coming up after the summer.

It comes from setting up a mini training with my best 15 potential delivery partners – to get them competent and comfortable with explaining and delivering Mirror Mirror to clients.

It comes having lined up 4 of those training sessions – 2.5 hours each;  2 x face to face in Den Haag and London and 2 x virtual – and everyone being keen to join.  It comes from having developed and uploaded 8 x pre-read documents and 5 x pre-watch mini videos to a learning site and getting great coaching and feedback on those from virtual learning consultants Judy and Steve McCann.

It comes from having yesterday seen the final set of reports that will be automatically produced on our new reporting system – and those reports looking great.

It comes from knowing that having spent carefully and wisely, I have funds to do what I need to do for the rest of the year.

And it comes from multiple seeds starting to sprout on business developments and other fronts too.

It seems as if every call / skype meeting / interaction that I’m having about Mirror Mirror is energised, positive, productive and in the flow.

I counted up the number of people now in the Mirror Mirror ‘ecosystem’ as suppliers, contributors or partners – across Product Development, Business Development, Delivery and Management.  They are 35 people I am working with, that I believe in, who are pushing forward with me to get this to fly.

I spoke to one of my ad-hoc advisors yesterday. An experienced ex-CEO with an outstanding track record of success.  I’m lucky to get his time. His advice at this point was indeed:

  • Push through. You know what you have to do and do it your way.  Trust your gut and make your own decisions (after consulting others where you need to, of course). Because if they’re not your decisions, it’s not your logic and you can’t really learn from what doesn’t go wrong.  You have enough experience. Find your leadership style and make it work.
  • Make sure you trust that the people around you can honour your expectations – and if they don’t, stop collaborating with them.
  • Be commercially savvy – .

My modus operandi so far has been to be so grateful for the inputs of anybody to helping develop this concept that the thought of rejecting anyone didn’t exist. But now it’s crunch time. I can’t fall back on that habit.  Every spend has to work for me.  Every delivery has to be excellent.  Every week of work has to move this forward.

But it’s ok.  I’m not tied into contracts I can’t get out of. I’ve spent a long time finding those 35 people.  But ensuring high-quality contributions is now on my radar.

Mirror MirrorWe identify and close alignment gaps between people in organizations to improve engagement and performance.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com