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Private practice

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Broken shovels and new handles.

The poor old shovel . . . yellow fiber-glass handle finally gave out!

The poor old shovel . . . yellow fiber-glass handle finally gave out!

Sometimes you just gotta do it. I was replacing my mailbox post when it happened. The old shovel handle broke. I've been expecting it. This old, yellow, fiberglass handle was never the best. It quickly began to weaken; the digging becoming a maddening-test-of-stubborn-resistance as the handle flexed, twisted, and alternatively held it''s rigidity as a project progressed.

Now it was caput. Finished. Should I "pitch it" in joy of the cessation of the frustration and hold a wake to it's demise? No. I would replace the handle with a good, solid, wooden one. I grew up in that era. Don't through away things that still have value. Even if the time, the replacement parts, and ultimate finished product are less than ideal.

Changing that handle (see the finished product below) reminded me of the process of helping professionals with "old" skills upgrade to "new" ones. Learning to add contracting or consulting to their professional practice. The tools essentially remain unchanged but the experience is transformative.

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Almost makes me look forward to digging.

Almost makes me look forward to digging.

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Winter Prep . . . and the lesson of doing . . . to learn you "can do!"

Winter Prep . . . and the lesson of doing . . . to learn you "can do!"

Three cords of Mulberry and Locust. Not the best, but pretty good stuff never-the-less! (3/4 cord per rack)  In the background you can see our chicken coop and the "high tunnel."

Three cords of Mulberry and Locust. Not the best, but pretty good stuff never-the-less! (3/4 cord per rack)  In the background you can see our chicken coop and the "high tunnel."

"I'm glad you said that!" exclaimed a recent trainee. We were talking about using our IMPACT Model to work with organizations, and I had just told the trainees that, far from being a typical entretreneural-type-ready to jump in with both feet, I tend to be a risk-avoider, cautious and tentative about what risks I take. 

No, the trainee wasn't glad I told them about my self-doubt and slow-adopting stance, what he was glad I said was that "sometimes you have to do something so that it is hard to deny that you can do it."  Which brings me to processing firewood . . . .

It's that time. Time to get everything buttoned down before the "snow flies" in my part of the world. This means, among other tasks, getting the firewood pre-positioned, stacked, and ready to feed the stoves and fireplace that helps heat our home. So yesterday, my 11 year old son and I stacked firewood onto our porch (see below).

For my son, stacking the rack full was a "can't do." He just couldn't imagine that we would be able to stack the entire rack full. Despite this, he hung in there until I released him with the job about 85% complete--and finished it up on my own. (Story of how a "power struggle" almost led to dire consequences.)

I can't blame him. This whole "wood thing" is a lesson in things I couldn't do at one time. 

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Another cord under cover. Mack helped fill it. I topped it off. This is mostly Maple. Okay, but not great.

"Couldn't do," I say, because I didn't grow up in a home where running chain saws, log splitters, or stacking firewood was part of the culture. No, I grew up on a college campus, cloistered away from such folderol. It's not that it wasn't in my heritage, in fact, my Dad, felled, transported, cut up, split, and stacked 9 cords of wood - 9 cords! - to get his high school class ring--and he did it by hand with mules, chains, and an axe. Maybe, that's why I grew up on a college campus and why I had little experience with processing firewood.

Today, running my Stihl saws (story about a broken screw and getting a second saw) ) the log splitter, and processing the winter supply is routine. But there was a time where I didn't know it would be. That the thought of trying to use or maintain a chainsaw or splitter seemed daunting if not possible. What has changed? My experience. But that only comes after one musters the courage to try -- to do the thing before knowing you can do it. To take that leap of faith.

 

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All Locust in the garage. Miserable to process because of the thorns but good wood--all ready for the snow!

So it is with becoming a consultant . . . and with each new project where you walk in an expert with experience in other organizations . . . but a complete novice with this new culture. You must move into the unknown, not knowing what you can do, then learning what you can achieve. The repetition of this process leads you to trust that even when you don't know what you can do in a given situation, this learning has taught you that you can do!

 

 

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Four Words the Helping Profession Needs

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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