One of my most profound takeaways from the day came to me not during the main presentation, but during a very brief conversation I had as I was just arriving and entering the room we used for the day. I was welcomed by Trace, one of Alan’s associates and we participated in the usual chitchat that one partakes in at such events. I mentioned that I had been feeling very busy lately and that I was looking forward to this day where I could simply learn some new things.
Trace (who I never spoke to again during the day) made a comment to me about thinking about my business in a different way. His way of describing it was succinct and elegant and I wish I could remember it exactly but I certainly came away with the meaning of it. Here is the gist of it.
Trace asked me to consider whether I had a business or a company. I have always thought of what I do as a business. He explained that the word that I use to describe it – in my head- can make a big difference. Business is derived from the word ‘busy’. I had been mentioning how ‘busy’ I had been. I also knew that my busyness was not all work that I wanted to be doing. Sometimes I have been busy following up on commitments and emails that I really am not passionate about. However, sometimes when something crosses over my desk and I see that I CAN fit it into my calendar, I do. Even when I might not have sought out that particular connection or opportunity, I add it to my plate of busyness.
Contrast that with the idea of company. A company can be a large organization, like the Hudson’s Bay Company. Or, it can simply be thought of as the word that it is, meaning, the people that we surround ourselves with. In other words: the company that we keep. During my short conversation with Trace, he asked me to consider whether I had a business or a company. I had to admit to myself that I have concentrated much more on my business than my company.
This very slight distinction was illuminating for me. I have rolled it around and around in my head many times since then. I realize that when I think of my work as a business, it causes me to operate under the belief that in order to achieve success, I need to have transactions and to be busy. I am good at busy. But I don’t necessarily think that busy is good for me or for my business. I also realize that coaching is all about people, and being in company with people. This somehow feels like a softer definition to me, and one that defines my work. I know that my very best coaching moments have come to me when I have been in complete company with my clients. This happens during individual coaching, during the workshops I create and facilitate, and during work with large organizations. I have experienced incredible company working with everyone from accountants to teenagers.
I now know that I have always had a company, but have called it a business. This disconnect has prevented me from moving my work to the level that I want. When I think of working in company with others, I find that it is easier for me to explain what I do and to feel good about marketing myself. This word is congruent with my value around what coaching does for people. In some ways it goes back to the idea of being vs doing. I have been ‘doing’ my business. I want to be ‘being’ my company. This idea of company resonates with me.
This new idea has changed how I have chosen to operate both in my personal and work life. This week when I thought about what I would fill my time with, I used the distinction of business and company to help me make my decisions. When I noticed that I was choosing something that would make me busy, but not fulfilled, I recognized that I had a choice to make. I could continue being ‘busy’. Or, I could make choices that would put me in the company of people I want to be with and even do business with. On Wednesday evening, Jim had a client appointment and I had planned on catching up with some paperwork and emails; my business. However, I also knew that every Wednesday evening there is an extra dance practice offered for my dance group. I have never attended this before. This past week, I knew who I wanted to keep company with on Wednesday night. Busy would wait for morning – and it did. I love being in company with the Chinook Country Dancers. Our instructor, Reba J is all about company. Her focus is never about bottom line, never about perfection, never about judgement, never about comparison. It is always about company. No wonder she is so successful. No wonder I feel so at home with this group.
Late last October I decided to try writing a blog. This entry marks my one year anniversary. I hope you have enjoyed my company. I certainly enjoy yours. This week’s blog highlights how the right question, posed at the right time, can change a life. This is what coaching is all about.
Please contact me to find out how coaching can help you, your family, your group or your company think in new ways, and grow to become what you dream you can be.