Since 1994, I have had all or some of my professional work paid for through contracts. This was NOT the plan! I have mentioned before in this blog that I am not, by nature, an entreprenuer. To wit . . .
- I hate the idea of sales and marketing.
- I am not a "joiner." Involvement is not something I seek.
- I am inherently risk-aversive.
Thus, my first contracts came by "default." That is, through no intention or effort on my part to try and sell my services. Here's how it happened . . .
1993: A colleague offered to guarantee 3 months pay to encourage me to join their private practice. The hospital, whose employ I was leaving, offered to contract with me, part time, for weekend therapy groups.
1994: Citibank, who had bought the hospital chain, closed the hospital. An education consultant, who had a contract with the Department of Education, offered me a contract to do counseling with identified kids in schools. (Realizing this part-time gig paid me better than the full-time job was an eye-opener. But, I had dreams and it was off to grad school.)
1997: A colleague of mine and I dreamed up a consulting gig as part of an assignment for a Qualitative Research class. We proposed, with support from our professors, to help improve employee satisfaction at this 3,000+ plant.
2000: A university offers me a job, but it's not where I want to live. I counter-offer to teach from my preferred location. This leads to a contract to combine trips to campus and distance-learning that continues for 15 years until I decide to retire to pursue other interests.
2003: Interest peaks among students about the consulting work I am doing and I am assigned to teach a Doctoral class on Consulting with Larger Systems.
2010: Students continue to value the class and encourage the writing of Beyond the Couch. As multiple students indicate that the class has been the "most practical" and "best class" in their curriculum, I begin to dream about how to help others benefit from contracting.
2011: I begin coaching mentees about developing contracts. These colleagues develop contracts with schools, churches, medical practices, and non-profits. Personally, I continue with my work with a limited private practice and consulting.
So, that's it. Let me encourage you to seek colleagues, opportunities, and supports to add contracting and consulting to your "toolkit." It will open up many doors to creative and energizing work!