Reaching for Your Highest Potential: An Interconnected Practice

In Part 1 of this post, we talked about using The Pollyanna Principles as a guide to creating visionary end results for your consulting practice.  (If you missed it, that post is here.)

The remaining four Pollyanna Principles focus on the means we use to attain those results. If we are to reach for our highest potential as consultants, it will be important to use means that are aligned behind and aimed at those results.

The next 4 posts in this series will therefore examine those principles one at a time, to help move your practice towards its highest potential.

Pollyanna Principle #3: Everyone and everything is interconnected and interdependent, whether we acknowledge that or not.
As consultants to community organizations, we often encourage our clients to work with other organizations to achieve their goals.  But is that how we operate our consulting practices? Here are some approaches to consider:

Create an Advisory Team for Your Consulting Practice
When it comes to your clients, the benefits of having a board go beyond legal oversight – a board can provide multiple smart minds to consider different approaches to the vision, values and activities of your clients’ organizations.  The same is true for your consulting practice.

There are many ways to accomplish this.  For example, consultants can use the same sleuthing techniques you teach your clients, to build the advisory team for your practice.

What is even more powerful, though, is to engage your clients themselves as your advisors. Talk about building upon your interconnectedness!

At the Community-Driven Institute, there are 3 phases to the Consultants Curriculum. Phase 1 is self-guided, providing content background in various subjects.  Phase 2 is the Immersion Course, where consultants spend 5 days practicing a different way of being in their work, to learn how to help clients reach for their highest potential.  Phase 3 is the Faculty Level, where graduates of Phase 2 are mentored as they put what they’ve learned into practice.

To build Phase 2, we asked consultants we knew and trusted to join us for 5 days (the length of the class) to go through what we wanted to teach, step-by-step, to help frame and create the class.  The Immersion Course today is 100% not what we had thought it would be. The course is only the powerful force for transformation it is today because  it was co-created by all those brilliant minds.

With Phases 1 and 2 up and running, we turned to building Phase 3. Having experienced the power of creating Phase 2 from the inside out, Phase 3 is now being co-created by the very participants who have gone through Phase 2.  This is the only way Phase 3 will be effective in helping participants continue to transform how they think and be in their work with clients.

Join a Community of Practice / Learning Community for Consultants to Community Benefit Organizations
Virtually every Community Benefit Organization qualifies for membership in at least one professional association – a group that gathers like-kind organizations to learn and grow together.  From local coalitions to national and international associations, almost every type of Community Benefit Organization we might encounter has access to support for their work.

Independent consultants, however, typically operate one-or-two person shops. And consultants who lead management support organizations are generally the only ones in town who do what they do.  While both these situations offer autonomy, it also means there is only you to make decisions.  Some folks may bounce ideas off a spouse, but spouses aren’t generally known for providing an objective view!

A Community of Practice (or “Learning Community) can provide you with other like-minded spirits with whom you can learn and grow, with the goal of improving your work.

If there is no such group in your community, you can start one using this simple framework.

You can also join one of several online communities that serve a similar function. As one example, the Twitter Chat #NPCons “meets” online monthly to discuss issues of interest to consultants to Community Benefit Organizations (You can learn how to participate in that chat here).  Charity Channel’s “Consultants” forum and ARNOVA’s listserv are other online communities for consultants to Community Benefit Organizations.

Learning and growing together not only raises the bar for each of us individually; it raises the bar on the whole profession.

By using our interconnectedness as a means to achieving our highest potential, consultants to Community Benefit Organizations will significantly enhance the effects of their consulting work. And that is a strong step forward as your consulting practice becomes a catalyst for community change.

  • What are other approaches for engaging clients and colleagues in helping you reach for the highest potential of your work?
  • As you develop the plans for your business (if you do not have a plan, read Part 1 of this post again!), who does it make sense to engage to make that plan a reality?
  • What has been your experience with using consulting colleagues or clients as advisors, to help you reach for the highest potential for your practice?

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