The number one way to get out of your own head and gain clarity when you work alone.
For sure there's advantages to working by and for yourself, and sailing your own ship. You get to call the shots and do things your way, with only yourself to report to. Plus there are no politics or egos to manage but your own.
But the flip-side of that is that running a business on your own can be a pretty solitary way of operating day-to-day. And I've been venturing hans solo for four years now – which means I've only really planned my vision in my own perfectionist head, with my own perfectionist head playing devil's advocate, for around 1,461 secluded days.
This has been awesome for feeling in control, but man is it brutal for keeping focused.
And in a recent mistake log of mine, I noticed how I kept getting 'stuck' on strategic business issues, but then only kept tapping into my own resources to try and get unstuck. Almost like feeling I had to keep things perfect and have all the answers. Rookie mistake right? In hindsight, limiting myself like that never actually got me truly unstuck, it just diverted my attention into another area and distracted me from the original issue. Thus, in stuck-dom I remained.
Then after thinking about how I could break the cycle of this repeated mistake, I had an idea to reach out to one of my old work colleagues, (who has since been upgraded to one of my bessies). She's one of the brightest, most strategic people I know, but after both of us starting our families over recent years, our professional connection seemed to have become lost for one reason or another. (Which in one way has been lovely because our relationship then became all about socialising and eating. A lot of eating actually. #carbfest)
But one 45 minute video call with her, where I poured out my journey on this project and my vision going forward, gave me an incredible new perspective, and so many new ideas, and reminded me how much collaboration is so unbelievably valuable. After just 45 minutes.
It got me thinking, what then could be achieved after a day, a week, a month?
Not only does collaboration give you a different way of looking at things and an alternative approach to a problem, but it brings an additional set of skills too, with a whole new version of life experience to draw from.
It's almost like that 'a problem shared is a problem halved' type-vibe – plus sharing issues gives you a stronger sense of accountability as they're going to check in on you and see how you're getting on. And if you value their opinion and input, you're gonna want something to report back. This in itself can make you waaaay more productive with more motivation and focus. And the added, bonus side-effect of that, is it minimises your opportunity to procrastinate. When things are clearer, it's so much easier to take action.
It sounds so simple to type this post now, but I genuinely feel a bit of a dope for not realising this sooner. I mean, four years of being wholly in my own head, with it solely on me to find the answers? Just the thought makes me feel suffocated by it. And worryingly, without me being in the habit of keeping an eye out and noting down my mistakes, I may not have ever had the insight to realise it.
So what's your professional circle like? Have you got someone you might be able to use as a soundboard for an issue you're struggling with? I know it can feel like your cadging off your connections for free, but don't be put off by this. You need to overcome that feeling and go for it anyway. You have to reach out at some point and start somewhere. Plus, if you feel too much like a freeloader, maybe even think about what you could do for them first – what skills, services or goods might they benefit from that you can offer? Could you be a soundboard for them in exchange? The whole idea is that it's a two-way street, not a winner-takes-it-all scenario. Two collaborations are better than one! :)
So defo let me know how you've got on, I'm super-buzzed to see what alliances you create :)