Reaching for Your Highest Potential

Years ago, I wrote an article about consultants as the poster children of “The Cobbler’s Kids” – the old adage that says, “The cobbler’s kids go barefoot.” No matter how good we are at what we do for our clients, when it comes to applying that same wisdom to the business side of our consulting practices, we consultants often range from “inconsistent” to “downright neglectful” in the extent to which we walk our talk.

As you begin putting The Pollyanna Principles into practice with your clients, imagine the impact on your practice itself if you apply those same principles to the business side of your business!

Whether you are working with clients on overall strategy, resource development, social media or anything else, Pollyanna Principled Consultants begin that client work with the end results their clients want to see in the community.

The same will hold true as you apply the principles to your consulting practice. In this article, then, we will focus on the first two of the principles – the principles re: End Results. In part two, we will address the four principles about the means we use to achieve those results.

The Pollyanna Principles Regarding End Results
Pollyanna Principle #1: We accomplish what we hold ourselves accountable for.
Pollyanna Principle #2: Each and every one of us is creating the future, every day, whether we do so consciously or not.

Just as Community Benefit Organizations often lose sight of their focus on creating visionary, community-driven end results, we consultants easily fall into the same trap. Here are a few areas to consider.

A Clear Vision for Success
When Dimitri and I first began our consulting practice, we weren’t sure exactly what we would end up doing. What we DID know quite clearly was why we were doing it.

In those early days, we knew we wanted work that would let us grow, both intellectually and creatively, and work that would let us travel. We knew we wanted our families to join us in our travels and to grow along with us. Most of all, we wanted to know that our work was making the world a better place.

That last point has been such a strong guiding focus that it led to a complete change in our practice. It led to The Pollyanna Principles. It led to our developing Creating The Future.

Your clients’ vision for the change they want to create defines why they do what they do. As you think about your consulting practice, your own personal vision will do the same for you.

  • What is your highest potential?
  • What would success look like in your life?
  • What future do you want to hold yourself accountable for creating for yourself and your consulting business?

A Plan for Achieving that Success
Imagine this scenario: You are visiting a prospective client for the first time. You ask if they have a plan for whatever it is you will be working on. Their response is, “No, it’s hard to find the time. And besides, in our line of work, it’s really hard to plan – one can never tell what will be coming down the pike.”

Now imagine saying to that client, “That’s ok. I understand. I don’t plan for my business either.”

Silly? Of course. But unless you are prepared for this confession, it’s time to create a plan for aiming your business at achieving the success you’ve defined in your vision.

  • How will you align your work to accomplish your potential / your vision?
  • What steps will you take to achieve success?
  • How will you hold yourself accountable for achieving your vision?

Short Term Needs vs. Visionary Success
Consultants often encounter organizations that are prioritizing short term needs over their long term goals. As Pollyanna Principled consultants, our job in those circumstances is to encourage those organizations to see the bigger picture of what they can accomplish if they look up from what is right in front of them – seeing both the forest and the trees.

But it is one thing to advise our clients. It is quite another to apply that same thinking to our own work.

Consultants who can’t find time to do marketing, because they are “too busy bringing in money to pay the bills.”

Consultants who find reason after reason to justify why they can’t dedicate the time to writing the book / launching the website / developing the class that will bring them nearer to their vision.

Yes, we live our lives in the short term – the need to pay the bills is real. But to consciously create the future we want – our own personal vision – we must hold ourselves accountable for doing just that. It is a balance – one we might try to help our clients achieve, but that we are likely to consider too hard to do for our own businesses.

True story: In the past few years, our own consulting practice has been completely transformed, as we took on the task of developing the consultants’ curriculum for the Community-Driven Institute at the same time as I was writing The Pollyanna Principles. Talk about time-consuming! Each of those efforts would have been enough to slow us down, and we did both at the same time!

To accomplish all that and keep our business afloat meant taking on smaller engagements, moving away from the larger projects that had become a mainstay of our practice.

Was that scary? Of course it was! But we knew that although big consulting jobs would generate revenue in the short term, in the long term it would jeopardize our real goals – to create systems to share what we had learned. We could not have made that decision if we were focused solely on short term survival.

It is a simple law of physics: If we are spending time on one thing, we can’t be spending that moment on something else. For our consulting practices to help us reach for our vision, our potential, our definition of success – we must invest our time in that visionary potential.

  • What important project have you been putting off for lack of time?
  • What can you do this week to take steps towards accomplishing that big picture goal?
  • How will you ensure the work you do today is a stepping stone to the future you want to create for yourself and your business?
  • How will you hold yourself accountable for creating your own success?

As you consider how Pollyanna Principles #1 and #2 affect your consulting practice, you will notice how strongly the principles regarding “means” affect those end results as well. And while Part 2 of this article will address the remaining four principles, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention just one of those principles here – Pollyanna Principle #4: “Being the change we want to see means walking the talk of our values.”

Each of the items noted in this article is something we would advise our clients to do. Being the change we want to see in our own lives means walking that talk for ourselves. When we do, we find that creating visionary change is not only possible for our communities and our clients – it is possible for ourselves as well.

For Part 2 – building an Interconnected Practice – head here.

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