Guest post by Christopher Flett, founder of Ghost CEO and a Power Chick-approved biz coach.
When I was learning how to swim as a kid, my family went to a lake called “Half Moon” in Alberta. One day I went overboard on the boat and in my frustration to break surface, I actually started to swim deeper. My brother Philip jumped in, grabbed me by the ankle and pulled me to the surface. He was pissed (I likely scared the hell out of him) and he said to me,
“When you are underwater and don’t know where the surface is, count to ’2′ and blow bubbles. When you see which way the bubbles go, follow them.”
Any entrepreneur can feel like they have fallen in the deep end and are in way over their head. We’ve all been there. Hell I find myself there once a month, but when you know how to find yourself to the surface, the unexpected ‘submersion’ doesn’t seem that dramatic. Let’s talk about some of the common things that throw an entrepreneur in the deep end:
- Take on a project that is way above their skills.
- Lose an important partnership that they depended on.
- A key account chooses to work with someone else.
- You’re schedule is an ugly monster that eats up any free time you might have set aside.
- You duff the ball when you get a chance to hit a home run.
When I’m finding myself in this situation, I grab my trusty moleskin notebook and sit down for a coffee. Phone off, I write at the top of the page, “Current Situation”. Then I describe what it is I feel underwater about and the negative consequences of feeling in the deep end. Then on the opposing page, I make a list of all the things I can do that will act as bubbles. Things that I can ‘follow’ out of the deep end and back into control.
With a program I’ve been working on for the last month, I was working through another facilitator’s materials to get them ready for license. I was getting bogged down in the information (which I knew was good) and trying o figure out the right way to organize it so that it would be easy for licensed facilitator’s to use the materials in their own communities. I got bogged down, I got angry, I looked at pages and pages of notes that I had on the program and got more and more pissed. I realized that I was feeling underwater on the program so I went for a coffee.
On the one side of my book I wrote, Current Situation. Having an extremely difficult time working someone else’s content into a format that will work for licensees. Then I stared at the page. One of my ‘bubbles’ is always to delegate the work back so I wrote down my assistant’s name as a potential solution. But, if I couldn’t figure it out, how the hell was she going to to. I drank more of my coffee.
Finally it came to me. I have a model of facilitator’s notes that are easy for anyone to follow. So I made a template of what the process needed to be (the organization) and then sent it back to my two partners in the JV and asked them to fit their work to my organization. They happily agreed and I can continue on with other materials (license related, not content related) that I can do on my own and do well. I’ve now empowered the creator of the content to fit their brilliance into a clear organization model and everyone can go back to doing what they do well (and that is easy).
When you are feeling underwater, rather than splashing around like a wild person, take two seconds (or more likely time to have a coffee) and write down the potential bubbles that can get you back to the surface. Don’t drown in situation; inhale potential solutions and get yourself back on track. (Tweet this tidbit!)
Christopher Flett is an author, speaker, entrepreneur, and instigator of the new model of business. Founder of the Ghost CEO Business Coaching program, he travels the globe working with companies, associations and professionals that focus on professional development for women in business.
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Power Chicks Chime In: Think of a time you felt under water. Splashing about. Scared, even. I love Chris' idea of following bubbles up and out of tough situations. What "bubbles" led you out of your recent "underwater" experience? If you're still wallowing in the wet stuff, what could give you fresh perspective? xoxo Lynn
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