So, I challenge myself. Can I boil down what the Helping Profession needs to transition from a twentieth-century "healthcare" mindset to being an entrepreneurial force that reaches far more people? Big task.
Hubris? Why do I think that I can come up with four words to help redirect our profession? Well, to be blunt, somebody needs to do it. Beyond that, I do have 26 years as a professional. I know the literature and taught graduate students how to expand their scope of practice. I have expanded my practice "Beyond the Couch" into contracting with organizations and business both for mental health services and business consulting on leadership and employee issues. Because I have been fortunate enough to know others who have escaped the "box" of traditional practice.
So, with that long preamble, here goes . . .
What are the four words that our profession needs to hear to get beyond the old medical-model and have a more dynamic and profound impact on others? Here they are:
Broaden. "Expand the base" is a phrase we hear during the political season. We understand that these politicians need to reach out to more than just their core "base" to get elected. Professionals who want to thrive need to expand their thinking.They need to ask, "How do I broaden the market I can serve?" There is no reason no to--unless you believe that we dressing all the human needs that should be addressed already. Don't focus your practice on competing with the practice down the street. Find a new market. Expand beyond the "market sector" of healthcare and into the area of human needs.
Embrace. Accept that what you do is a business function. Understanding marketing, creating a business plan, accounting . . . isn't it just more paperwork? Isn't that what helping professionals hate already? I am not saying that you shift your focus to being a business expert just that you take the reality of your business seriously. I have an accountant. I meet regularly with a social marketing expert. I talk to consultants in the field to develop my strategic plan. I don't do it all myself. But no one else will do it for me either. I need to "lean into" the business. I need to be the leader and plan for growth.
Act. Be audacious enough to dream . . . then act on it. "The first sale is always to yourself," consulting guru Alan Weiss writes. Courage. It seems strange for me to tell my fellow professionals they need courage. After all these are the people that brazenly face the pain, chaos, and conflict on the human condition daily. They are courageous in so many ways. But when it comes to believing in their own abilities I often find fear. out-weighs courage. This leads to . . .
Source. Our profession is resource-shy. What I mean by that is that unlike many industries we seem incapable, or unwilling, to use sources and invest money in developing ourselves and our business. Maybe its working in an industry that does not pay well. (You would not believe the offers that get thrown at my home-schooled, non-college, IT professional son.) Maybe its a lack of belief in our own value. But most professionals I know only attend the CEU trainings they have to in order to meet licensure requirements or that help them stay current in their particular cope of practice (Autism, ADHD, etc.) Few develop a strategic plan for their career and develop new skill sets or pay for training to expand into new areas of practice.
Broaden. Embrace. Act. Source. Do these things and we will expand the playing field, grow as a profession, and enrich ourselves and others to lead richer, fuller, and healthier lives.
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