Real True Work + Trust + Faith

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about Real True Work. My friend, Michael Langlois, reminded me of why I talked about it in the first place. This week. He’s at South by Southwest (#SXSW) talking about psychotherapy and video games and tagged me in a post stating he is enjoying pursuing his real true work. (I’m super happy for him).

I got off track with my real true work. I went down a path that closed my therapeutic practice and edged toward business coaching. The coaching thing was all wrong for me. It wasn’t that I couldn’t make money. I did. The problem was, my heart wasn’t in it. I didn’t feel that certain somthin’-somethin’ you get when the work you do resonates with who you are.

So I shifted back to the therapy and plodded my way back to a full practice, working with my good friend, Allison Andrews. We have big plans and are taking steps every day to make them real.

Faith in what is real and true

To do this work, Allison and I have had to have faith in what we know and who we are. What we bring to our work with families of children with ADHD and autism is what we call “game.” We know our shit. We know what we know because of who we are who we parent and our education ad training. No one can do the work we do the way we do it because they are not us. And we freaking rock. Clients come to see us from miles away. They give up their Friday nights, Saturday mornings. They pay on time. I have several clients who tracked me down to settle their bills, rather than the other way around.

There is a resonance between our clients and ourselves. And the only way that vibration is sustainable is when we believe in ourselves, our approach, our style and our worth.

What we do looks different from other therapy practices. We sit on the floor. We laugh a lot with our clients. We share a bit of ourselves when it makes sense to do that. We’re moving to a new office and we have plans to install a disco ball, a chalkboard wall and have our clients create the playlists of songs we play in the waiting room.

Our practice will never look like yours or the one down the hall. You business shouldn’t look like ours, either. We do what is real and true to us. You have to do the same.

The key to this is…having faith in who you are and what you do is tricky. You need to believe in yourself because there are no models to follow in being you in your unique workspace. You also need to have some solid insight into your strengths and weaknesses and, again, put your faith in your strengths. Just because  treating a particular issue is in demand or lucrative, doesn’t mean you should build your work around it. Nor can you chase rainbows hoping that treating your version of a problem is going to be in demand. You need to have your feet on the ground and continue believe that what you do matters and then rock at it daily. See why this requires faith?

Which brings us to trust

Faith and the belief in who you are and what you do is one thing, trusting you can build something that makes a difference and money is another.

The first place to put your trust is in yourself. You need to trust your gut and instincts. You need to trust your intuition. And you need to trust that when you head down a wrong path (and you will) you have the smarts and strength to turn around and tweak what needs tweaking before things get out of hand.

You need to trust that you are putting something into the world that matters even when only  a few people know about it.

You need to trust yourself in the face of others’ ambivalence about your work.

Ultimately, you need to trust that building the work you do is a process and the path is long with ups and downs and you will come out ahead in the end.

Lessons in Business, Faith and Trust

This is my third rendition of building my practice. And this time, the pieces are all in place for us to grow something bigger than us. We have a vision, we have a plan, we have trust in our work and each other, and faith this constellation of good stuff works out the way we think it will.

While it could be overwhelming and scary, it isn’t at all because we have faith in ourselves and the process to bring us to the right place.

It hasn’t been a straight line. We’ve had bumps and had to change course a few times. But since we have the faith and the trust, we didn’t freak out, we didn’t panic. We calmly regrouped, shifted our focus, took our time.

There’s no workbook or class on faith and trust in ourselves. That inner game is really what set apart those who make a business work and those who give up. The moving parts of a business aren’t complex or secrets. The key really is faith in who you are and trust that you have what it takes.

Four Small Business/Private Practice Lessons of 2014

2014 has been a good year.

I re-opened my practice and now work with Allison and we are a rock star team.

We stopped taking insurance, then started taking it again. Getting paid by insurance is a pain in the ass. Yet, it lets us help more people.

Personally, I learned a lot about trust and relationships in business and life and how those two facets of my world are intimately intertwined. More on that later.

I honestly learn something new every day. But four specific lessons kept coming back to me again and again. Apparently, I needed multiple exposures to get the message. In no particular order, my Four Small Business/Private Practice Lessons of 2014:

1. Trust your values and mission.

Your head and your heart inform you business at it’s core. Working from a place of clear compassion and empathy are what will make you a success. Let’s face it, many of our institutions in our culture are suspect at the very least, corrupt and unethical at the worst. The world needs people who lead with their heart.

This does not mean you go poor or do everything for free. It means you have a mission to serve people who need what you do and you develop a solid business plan to get paid fairly for it.

My mission for years has been to open a child development behavioral health center to support families of children with neurodevelopmental differences. Why? Because I was that kid, my son is that kid, my friends’ kids and his friends are those kids and they get inappropriate served and under-served and their brilliance is tamped down, if it isn’t snuffed out. And I believe every child is capable of great things if given the opportunity to learn how they learn, to see their greatness and to believe in their unique abilities to contribute positively to the world.

On the business side, since  that population is under-served and inappropriately served, it’s relatively easy for us to attract and keep clients, as long as we do excellent, valuable work.

Because I care about truly helping kids and families and because I want to make it affordable, while still making a good living, I problem solve ways to meet my values and mission in the middle of earning money.

This core value/mission informs EVERYTHING we do at Child Development Partners. It informs how we get paid, how much we charge, the services we offer, the hours we work, the staff we bring in, the staff we let out, the office space we rent, our brand colors, our logo, etc. We don’t do the work because it’s a way to pay the bills. We do the work because we believe it’s important work and it happens to pay the bills, too.

If we didn’t have a strong mission and focus, we wouldn’t be as successful as we are. We’d be “getting by” and feeling uninspired and that isn’t a whole lot of fun.

In 2015 commit to clarifying your mission and values and TRUST that they will support you in building something meaningful and successful.

2. Good people don’t share your definition of “fair.”

I’ve worked with good people this year who didn’t treat my business fairly. They charged too much, didn’t follow through, tested my boundaries and took my business inexperience as a green light to maximize their profit.

The truth is, I like these people. If we weren’t doing business together, we could be friends.

But they separated out a friendship relationship from a business one and I learned quickly that only *I* can be responsible for how my interests are represented in that dynamic.

I suppose this is true for all relationships. We have to take care of ourselves and our interests.

In 2015, empower yourself to take care of your business, know what you are worth. When a business relationship isn’t serving you, renegotiate or move on. In most cases the disconnect isn’t personal.

3. Build a team of advisers you can trust absolutely.

No one can build a business alone. Questions come up. Sticky situations arise. Every successful business person has a team of trustworthy advisers that will cut through the BS and help you navigate the rough waters.

My “Jedi Council” of advisers are Allison, my husband, Peter and our lawyer, Craig. These people are the real deal. They don’t always tell me what I want to hear (especially Pete…love you!), but they always tell me how they see things and advise with my best interests in mind. They will also support me if I don’t follow their council, but are allowed to say “I told you so,” if things don’t work out.

In 2015 connect to your coalition of trustworthy advisers. These must be people who will be 100% honest, without being shaming or blaming and will have your back, even when you make mistakes. This won’t be a big crew and they won’t necessarily be family. Also, don’t get stuck with a Jedi Council member who brings you down or violates trust. It’s ok to demote a Council member, while remaining close in other parts of your life.

4. Embrace change as the norm.

There isn’t a straight line toward a successful business. Things are in a state of constant flux. Just know and accept this. Waiting around for things to “settle down,” or “straighten out,” means waiting forever.  Allison and I change our minds at least 4 times a week. It can be about small things, “Are you buying the printer or am I?” or big things, “We weren’t taking insurance and now we are taking insurance!”

Don’t get emotionally attached to business decisions. If something is a loss, chalk it up as a loss and move forward. Don’t sit around feeling angry, ashamed or ambivalent. If a strategy isn’t panning out after a few months, change the strategy, rather than bemoan it’s lack of effectiveness. The truth is, what used to work 5 years ago, won’t work now and what we think “should” work doesn’t always. Use data, rather than emotion to inform your operations. While your values and mission should drive your engine, they aren’t the measuring stick that will get you to profitability.

Make “problem solving” a part of your business lexicon. No issue is too big to fix. Every problem has a solution. Sometimes the solution isn’t what we prefer or it’s hard work or it means we have to seek out support or additional learning.

Businesses most often fail because the owners get stuck in a rut. They set up artificial barriers and inflexible contingencies.  Don’t do that.

In 2015, embrace change as the norm. Every tech industry does this, which is why their products are profitable. No one wants the phone technology from 2003. It has to change to sell. This is true in all business endeavors.

I am so looking forward to what 2015 will bring! If 2014 is any indication, I have a lot to learn!!





Our New Business Plan: Love More

Cookie the Cat loving more.Allison and are are looking to take a really big leap. Someone who believes in our vision is asking us to think bigger and invest in building something that matters.

And while, theoretically, that is awesome, the reality is, we need the money to afford to think AND play big.

So the past few months have been ones in which we think big and problem solve the reality of how to get bigger without going broke or leading our husbands to panic attacks.

We’re being challenged to make a realistic plan and show everyone the money.

We have to answer the question, “How do we build a child developmental practice that makes enough money to pay the bills, and pay ourselves?”

At the end of the day, the answer comes back, “love more.”

Before you roll your eyes at the hippy dippiness of that statement, let’s back track to our mission and values and how loving more leads to a bigger business and more money.


Our mission statement reads, Child Development Partners will fill the need for highly effective, accessible behavioral health services for children and families in the geographic area where we work.

On soccer fields in our little town people talk about how they can’t find competent, affordable mental health care for their kids. There is a big need here.

We are competent child/family mental health providers and can fill that need.

For Allison, this means she has a longer commute than she had planned.

But if our mission is to help where help is needed vs being stubborn about location we need to love more. Allison has agreed to commute because she believes in this mission.


We are mothers. We know how stressful it is to raise a quirky child, work outside the home and afford things like health care. While we have talked at length here on this blog about the ins and outs of not taking insurance, I will fully admit that my values lead me to offer services that are accessible to middle income families, hard working families, children who will go without help if they can’t use their parents hard won insurance.

And so, we will take insurance. Some of it pays like crap. We will be strategic in what we accept and what feels fair. This will mean we add a whole layer of complexities to our business model.

When I think on this I get anxious and then tell myself, “love more.” It will be complicated. It will force us to be creative in income production. But by being accessible, we will never have to worry about filling client hours for ourselves or our staff. We will be accessible and make a good living because we choose to throw love into the mix, rather than restrict our hearts and options for those who want to work with us.

The bottom line value: Love More

The Business Plan

When we run numbers in our business it can be frustrating because our income potential is limited by insurance. WE may love more, but the insurance companies do not. However, when we open ourselves up to innovative ways to serve our clients, we see where we can charge for things not covered by insurance and boost our bottom line. By loving more, it allows us to see where we can vary the treatment model, move beyond 1-1 sitting in an office and into group, coaching and innovative support programs.

We will need a staff to realize our vision. We hope to bring in other therapists to support our mission. However, all of our team will need to be of a “love more” mindset. We won’t have random people taking clients, wandering in and out of our offices at will (like many group practices we know of). We will train people in the Child Development Partners Way, with flexibility to individualize their work, but to hold standards high, evidence-based work as a given, and teamwork a priority. We will provide consultation/supervision to those who want it, support ongoing training on our dime, invite team members to innovate their own programs within our center. We set a structure and trust our team to do their best work within it.

Also, by accepting insurance and being kick ass clinicians,  we have a strategic plan to be the “go to” behavioral health center for children, teens and families in the area. When one opens their heart in business, there isn’t going half way. Restricting ourselves to “2 days a week, 3-8pm,” we just limit the good we can do. Our center will be open as often as it needs to be with the staff required to make it useful and valuable to the community. This will take several forms, with therapy being just one piece. By loving more we can plan on being open, rather than working hard to close down when we can’t personally physically run the show.

The Physical Space

I’ve known for a long time that my work is impacted by my physical work space. If my office has no windows, I feel down and lethargic. If my office mates send out bad energy, I pick it up. If noise down the hall is constant, I’m distracted and irritated. And if a great coffee shop isn’t nearby, well, all bets are off.

On a whim, I inquired on some new office space being built nearby. It’s “green;” powered by solar; big, beautiful windows; has conservation land in the back; close to schools, close to town, yoga and coffee right next door. It’s everything we want. When we met the builder, it soon became clear he  understands and shares our mission and vision. He’s the one challenging us to think bigger. More than that, he’s willing to invest in our growth. Rather than hold us to expenses we can’t afford, he’ll let us grow financially. In many ways, he’s trusting us to keep our end of the bargain. And in that trust, with his vision to help the community, he is loving more, too.

The Leap

No small business can guarantee success to any stake holder.

There are lots of unknowns.

If we waited until we had all the answers,we cold want a lifetime because there are no answers to the many shifting variables.

And so, trust comes into the picture.

In my personal life and work, I’ve never gone wrong in loving more. Being more open, generous, kind, compassionate always leads to good stuff.

This doesn’t mean there are no boundaries and everything is given with no expectation of fair payment or trade.

What it does mean is we are open the conversation on how we make a partnership a “win-win” for all parties.

If we take insurance, we expect our clients to show up ready to do the work, make progress toward their goals and own their success. Clients that don’t hold up that end of the bargain won’t be our clients for long.

If we bring in staff, we expect to pay them well in exchange for their excellent work and positive representation of our brand.  If that doesn’t work out for either party, we move on.

Loving more is about more than money. It’s about an openness to the expectation that people show up willing to work together to make something better.

The bottom line is only as strong as our willingness to offer up value and options to invest in things that move us all forward, both in the clinical and business sense.

Holding the cards close, restricting access, dismissing those without the money didn’t feel good. It didn’t fit our mission, values or worldview.

Now that we love more, things are flowing, good things are happening, our phone is ringing, opportunities are showing up. And, yes, we are making more money.

I’m sure hard days will come. And those moments, I hope we can circle back to “love more,” as we problem solve our next steps.

{Picture is of Cookie the Cat loving more…}

Entreprenurship Requires Vision and Belief

Many business people well tell you that building a sustainable business a numbers game.

While you do need to run your numbers, you first need to have a vision and the belief that it can come to fruition, grow and succeed.

If we limit our vision, dismiss our belief we stunt growth.

Nothing happens if we can’t envision it happening. It’s impossible to win a game if you never play.

Lots of people have a vision. They can imagine a business that is thriving. They see the service offerings, the products and can even see clients and customers buying what they offer.

Where many of us get stuck is in belief.

Often people will share a big vision and then say, “It’s nice to dream…but it will never happen.”

That statement is a lack of belief in oneself, ones’ skills and one’s agency to get things done that matter.

Believing in the vision means believing we can weather the storm, navigate ups and downs, trust that growth will happen if we are prepared, mindful and willing to work hard.

It’s rare to see a business falter once the owner believes and does the work required to make it succeed.

Where things to awry is when the attempt at growth is half-baked and lackluster.

So if you believe in your vision and care enough to make it as good as it can be, you are well on your way to success.

Ooops, we did it again…

I’m happy to announce that, after much transitional planning, implementing and some angst, we are well on our way at the new Child Development Partners to a full practice!

In less than a year, I went from no clients, no office, no partner, no new referral sources to…

  • New office location (started November 2013)
  • A business partner (thank you, Allison Andews)
  • New website (thank you Heidi Little)
  • Two-three really great local referral sources
  • A full client caseload for myself (and building for Allison)
  • New client inquiry calls daily (this week we had 5)

Since I’m not a fan of attributing business success to any kind of luck or magic, let me give you the low down on how this went down because I think it’s informative to other therapy businesses in development.

Ultimately, it came down to some very solid foundational planning, flexible business modeling and targeted marketing strategy. Let’s take each in turn.

Foundations that Work

You know we work with kids and families impacted by ADHD and autism. There is a huge need for this kind of support in the community where I set up shop.

The foundations are these:

  • Address a real pain point/specialize
  • Articulate it clearly
  • Be where people need you

I see other business coaches trying to sell the idea that you can do whatever you want and a successful business will be the result. This just isn’t true. If I love to knit wool hats and you live in Arizona, are you buying what I have? Of course not.

Your services need to solve a problem that people really struggle with. Issues around parenting, eating, sleep, chronic illness, employment (or lack of), financial counseling, collaborative divorce, supporting aging parents, substance use. These are all areas where people struggle and seek help.

And despite what some coaches will try to lead you to believe, none of us is awake in the middle of the night worrying about self-actualizing or finding our mojo.

You have to specialize in a world where people debate the nuances of the iphone vs the Android. Specializing is required, expected and marketable.

Flexible Business Modeling

When I restarted the CDP engine last November, I tried to go forward with a “no insurance reimbursement” model. It didn’t work.

I was getting some clients, but they weren’t good fit, didn’t stick around and didn’t do the work. It was pretty miserable, actually.

Then in the spring, Allison and I decided to bite the bullet and add insurance to our business model.

We did all the hoop jumping required to get on two insurance panels and things just took off.

Fortunately, the insurance and our fees are in the same ballpark, so we aren’t losing much financially by taking on insurance.

Yes, it can be a pain and yes, we have to pay someone to help us with billing (hence a financial loss)  but our clinical hours are filling up quickly, doctors are referring to us with regularity and clients are happy to pay copays instead of full fees.

We saw the writing on the wall with our payment models. There were some competing “coaching” programs out there charging much less and offering home visits, etc, that we just didn’t want to do.  We couldn’t compete with our credentials alone in the self-pay market. So we shifted to another model without much harm to the bottom line.

Each market is different. Don’t buy into business coaching that is one size fits all and demands you do it one way. If you live in Manhattan your model is different than if you live in Boise. Everything comes into the mix – your specialty, your geographic area, cultural expectations, the insurance available in your community, etc.

Prepare to be flexible. Test out models and shift when things don’t flow.

Targeted Marketing Strategy

Fortunately, I kept my email list from my earlier marketing efforts, so we had a base list to market to.

However, most of our clients are now coming from local referrals and Psychology Today.

We have a free parenting teleclass series we offer every month. We sent a few snail mail letters and postcards about these classes to some potential, targeted, referral sources in the area. Based on these  mailings alone, a pediatrician and a pediatric clinical nurse practitioner are now two of our best referral sources. We’ve never met, but they seem comfortable with what we offer.

Our PT profile is optimized for our treatment specialty and clearly articulates who we work with and how we work.

We have a small ad in a local paper that seems to pique interest.

Honestly, right now our least effective strategy for paying clients is our email list.

We still market programs to them and that is slow to take off.

We’re not ready to throw in the towel on email marketing, as we feel it’s a nice pro bono service to offer our community, but we’ll continue to put more resources into local, community marketing.

This is possible

Building a thriving practice IS POSSIBLE.

The only thing that gets in the way is lack of focus, inflexibility and inconsistent implementation.

People need help and are willing to invest when they know they can get what they need from your services.

Sometimes we need to meet them halfway (in our case this means taking some insurance).

What can you do to ease your practice building process? Where do you need to focus some energy to clarify and implement?









Don’t Push Rocks Uphill (and other ways to ease the angst)

Have you ever noticed that sometimes we want something and it is just so hard to achieve it.

Maybe it’s a job or a business or a relationship.

You study up, work hard, try all the things the “experts” suggest and it’s just damn hard.

Sure, there’s baby step progress, but then you slide back. It sucks.

It feels like pushing rocks uphill.

So what’s easier?

Unless we are masochists, there are some areas in life where things aren’t so hard.

Maybe it’s really easy for you to knit a sweater or make kick-ass cupcakes or every accounting job you apply for is your for the taking.

Do more of what’s easy. It makes life much more fun.

“But I want to be a DANCER!”

If I could do any job in the world, it would be that of a professional modern dancer.

The reality is, however, I am not a good dancer.

Sure, I can keep the beat and clap on 1 and 3, but dancing with someone counting out eights and following  choreographed steps…not so much.

I could have studied with the best dancers on earth and just not made a go of things.

So the dream of professional modern dancing had to die.

The Easy

Working with children in a role as counselor/psychologist has always come easily to me.

The work is fun most of the time. It’s intuitive. Kids and I get each other. When I look for jobs in the role as child therapist, I get the jobs. No effort, no angst. I was once 30 minutes late for a job interview as  a school psychologist and got the job. That is crazy when you think about it.

I imagine, my auditions for the Mark Morris dance company would not go as well.

Sometimes we undervalue what comes easily for us. We think, “This is so easy, anyone can do it!” And we seek out challenges. We look for rocks to push uphill.

I can’t dance, I can’t knit and I’m a mediocre cook. I’m so impressed with people who can do those things and I bet a lot of them think their work is no biggie that “anyone can do it.”

If you find yourself living in a state of “hard,” consider pursuing the stuff that is easy. Why push rocks uphill? Running down is so much more fun and rewarding.

Where to Put This Facebook Angst?

Back in the day (2010) I was a Twitter fan and had no use for Facebook.

Over time, my friends and family started using Facebook for all things social, sharing pictures, party invitations, requests for homework assignments. I friended some business colleagues, I shared some of my life and business, too.

But lately, Facebook feels ick.

The combination of endless Ebola updates, talk of crisis and heartache world wide and the endless selling, bickering, debate and disagreement is just too much to bear.

Even something as harmless and potentially helpful as the #icebucketchallenge for ALS has haters.

Actually people I thought were cool and supportive of those in need have hated on this viral project.

And it brings up in me these ambivalent, eye-rolling kind of feelings.

I find myself saying out loud more than I want to admit, “Really?? Really?!”

Because if you can’t take something fun like a charity fundraiser in stride, something isn’t right.

But, that is *my* opinion, I suppose.

And there is the crux of weirdness on Facebook. Everyone is entitled to an opinion that they state out loud.

Now we all have a platform to voice our every thought, sunset experienced, lobster eaten, dog walked, baby laughed with, shoes bought,.

It’s exhausting. I have a hard enough time keeping up with my own life, never mind processing others’ moment-to-moment joys and sorrows.

Through it all, I think we lose a precious opportunity to spread useful information, share our deepr insights and original thoughts, advocate for causes that matter.

Rather than lift each other up, we exist in a parallel process for validating attention for the minutia in our life.

But this is how we are, we humans.

We look at the world through out own unique lens and the focus of all the snapshots are of ourselves.

This is just a fact, not a judgement, nor a calling out. I do it, too. We are self-preservationists. It’s how we survive as a species.

But if we are always trying to manage other people’s problems and vicariously live their special moments, we don’t tend to our own joys, nor care for our own needs.

Early research suggests that teens who spend a great deal of time on Facebook are more depressed than those who spend less time plugged into the platform. Some hypothesize this is due to comparison fatigue. I suggest it may be due to simply exhausting our brains in trying to process too much social information that is irrelevant to our own survival or needs.

After being on Facebook, I’m exhausted, numb, neither happy nor sad. My brain is just fried. What does it mean that so-and-so is on a boat in New Hampshire and who-and-who has a health emergency? What role does that play for me, what role to I play in that reality? I can send a thumbs up. I can offer virtual hugs. But after processing the “other” life experiences for awhile, my brain just can’t keep up.

And I’m over the “debates” from people who just need to disagree for disagreement’s sake. Life is too short for petty, I’m sure we can all agree. Yet somehow, we all take the bait (or set it) once in awhile.

The piece I can control is how much time I spend on Facebook and I have dialed back my time a great deal. I’m not sure how much adding my life to the mix is helpful to any of us.

I do enjoy updates on friends and family, kids and pets, so I won’t disappear from Facebook entirely. But my days of socializing there are shortening and I’m moving all the important updates to share with people in my real life orbit.

I can either focus on life on the screen or life here in my 3D world. I like the real stuff. The hugs feel better.

Consider doing the hard things

Today, Allison and I sat down and discussed a trend we are seeing in our referrals to Child Development Partners.

We get inquiries from families of older teens who want to be more independent, but whose executive functioning life skills are very weak. At the ages of 17, 18 or 19+ these young people struggle to get out of bed on time, do homework, dress themselves appropriately.

Many have had IEPs for years. Many have been placed in special schools. And yet, as they plan to transition into the next step of their development, they are ill-prepared.

Some of this may be due to their neuropsychology. Some may be due to to enabling systems around them.

It doesn’t matter the cause. The bottom line is, they (and their families) are in a tough spot and are asking for our help.

The hard work

When we are asked to coach a young person struggling with basic life skills, we are aware that a 50 minute meeting once a week isn’t going to cut it. Executive functioning training can be painstakingly time consuming and intricate. Knowing what to do and doing it consistently are a constant struggle. Rewiring the brain to work in synch with schedules and routines can feel like fingernails on a chalkboard and we all need big support when we are trying to make that much change.

Clearly, there is a need for folks to help these families navigate the important transition to independent adulthood. And right now, those helpers are few and far between.

So Allison and I are considering if we can be those people. We know we are capable of the work. The decision is whether we want to do the work.

After our meeting, I read this from Seth Godin, in which he asks, ““How do we do something so difficult that others can’t imagine doing it?” (We think Seth may be stalking us…)

Seeing the easy road makes it harder

The truth is, Allison and I don’t have to tackle this problem. There are many less complex cases we can take on, make a good living and leave the complicated difficult stuff to someone else. Except, everyone else thinks the same way. Nine out of ten of us will take that easy road, because why work so hard?

While one reason is to help people in need, if I’m honest, that isn’t my main motivation. All of our work helps people in need. Doing this hard(er) work requires more motivation that that.

For me, to take on this complex challenge meets the following needs in my wheelhouse:

1. A chance to develop something new and innovative.

2. An opportunity to be the “go to” people for a very specific presenting problem.

3. An awareness that this is a ‘ground floor’ opportunity to build our business offerings to an underserved population.

At the intersection of helping and business growth

I’d like to point out that what we’re doing is considering both sides of the professional coin as we consider doing something hard. We are compassionate and caring and want to be helpful. We also are looking at this from a return on investment lens.

The truth is, for families this process will be a significant investment in time and money. We will also invest a great deal of time and expertise in developing customized programs and coaching people up to 5x a week so they can develop the skills they need.

Allison and I have to do our due diligence and consider:

  • Is there a viable need?
  • Will people invest the time required?
  • Will they pay a fair price for the customized intensity of the program?
  • Will the outcomes validate the investment (for us and the clients)?
  • Is it worth our time to even plan this process before we pilot the program?

This is the hard work. It’s more than just setting up a website and marketing for clients. It’s going out of the boundaries of what we’ve been taught our work is and expanding into an area of what it can be. And this is why most people won’t even consider it.

The risk is–it could be successful and lucrative…or not. If we take it on, we risk wasting time and some money (not lots) as we explore the possibilities.

We already know our next steps. It’s meetings with other professionals and parents and asking all the questions we have about viability. As introverts, this is hard work, too.

My hunch is, this becomes a win-win for our future clients and for our business growth.

We’ll just need to take a lot of deep breaths and dig in with all we got.

Building something new from the ground up sure isn’t easy. But the ride is never boring and the payoff, personally, emotionally and financially can be bigger than we imagine.



Pushing to Play Up

My son is itching to play more baseball.

Since our town doesn’t offer a fall baseball option, we’re registering him in a neighboring town that does things a little differently.

As a 5th grader, he can play up with 6th and 7th graders. Or he can plan with mainly 4th and 3rd graders.

Alex is a good athlete. We are pushing him to play up.

This means (and we have told him this) he will be a lesser skilled player on a team. He probably won’t pitch as much as he did in the spring. In fact, he may be the “little kid,” in addition to the “new kid.”

This position will be new for him. He’s always been one of the oldest in his class, and with the extra time to grow, also one of the better athletes.

On this new team, he’ll need to stretch. He will be out of his comfort zone. He will have to prove himself.

And, while I never want to make things hard for him, I’m glad he will learn to navigate playing up.

My hope is he’ll learn to watch and listen. Learn from the kids a few ticks better, a few steps faster, a few years wiser.

He’ll see what it’s like to earn a place, rather than expect it held for him.

And, he’ll hopefully get a reminder that friends can be the guys you play with, not always the guys who live next door.

The lessons aren’t about baseball.

The lessons are about rising to the occasion, not sitting on stale laurels, empowering oneself to try something new and risk not being the best.

It will be interesting to watch him navigate these new waters. Will he dig in and play up or will he sag with frustration?

I imagine, at 11 years old, he’ll do a bit of both in turns. My heartfelt wish is when he digs in and ups his game there’s a nice reward–a high five,a run scored, a cheer from a new friend. That way, he’ll learn that reaching feels good and he’ll do it again and again and again.

In life, we all have the opportunity to play up. It’s not easy and always a bit uncomfortable, but given the alternatives, I hope you give it a try again and again and again.

Opinion as fact…Don’t let them get away with it

One of the brilliant parts of social media is we can vet people before we agree to work with them (which is why I don’t trust any professional without at least a website).

I want to know what my providers do, how they do it, why they do it and if we share a world view.

I want to see if people work from a place of informed, educated expertise or are just winging it with self-determined confidence.

In other words, does what they say and do actually help, or are they just telling me it works based on their beliefs?

We live in a culture where opinion and fact are constantly blurred.

Science shows us we are in the midst of global climate change, yet a subsection of people ignore the facts, even when their state has unprecedented drought, fires and live stock dying by the thousands.

I understand we all suffer from our own version of confirmation bias. We see what we believe. Everyone is entitled to live by their opinion, rather than react to science and research.

That is, until I’m paying them to help me solve a problem.

Do you want your surgeon to wield a scalpel by intuition? Would you like your physician to diagnose your cancer based on a hunch? Would you prefer the civil engineer ignore the rules of physics when he designs the bridge your car drives over every day because “it feels right?”

Of course not. So when people who are in less-than-scientific fields (like therapy and coaching) tell me they are winging it based on an opinion and ignoring facts, I call it a cop out. Why do we hold ourselves to a lesser standard than the engineer and the diagnosing MD? Isn’t that asking to be dismissed as less-than? For me, it says this person has a word bubble over their head saying, “I’m too lazy (or unintelligent) to critically consider facts/research and don’t care enough about my clients to be open to new data that may help them.”

We have research that supports Reiki and energy therapies and other metaphysical phenomenon. I’m not saying we have to stick to only observable science. What I am saying is that when an intervention is shown over and over to NOT be effective and professionals insist it is so based on their opinion, we’ve walked down the road of weakening our authority and professional expertise.
Worse is when said professionals offer to “discuss” the science vs hunch issue and then take data and simply ignore or dismiss it as not relevant “because in my experience it’s helpful.” Again, they are seeking confirmation bias and anything that negates their view is deemed not admissable to the discussion.

The scientific method exists because the experience of ONE doesnt’ mean it a result of the same experience of many others. For example, eating a certain mushroom may make me grow bigger, but when given to 100 other people, they only got sick. If I go around telling people, “in my experience this mushroom makes you grow bigger!” and they eat it and get sick, I’ve hurt a lot of people based solely on my experience and ignoring data that challenges my worldview.

Opinions have a role. Theories have a place. Honest professionals will tell us when they are working from an opinion and when they are working on a data/research based platform.

But be cautious of those telling you they have facts when what they are telling you are opinions and personal experiences clothed as scientific data. “This has worked for me,” is  a horrible testimonial.

If we want respect and a voice in impacting how people get support and help, we need to respect the people we serve. While data may fly in the face of what “I know to be true,” at some point we need to acknowledge either we are doing our work to confirm our own worldviews or are  open to being available to information that may improve outcomes for the folks we care about.

So, let’s do our work with integrity. Let’s do our due diligence and offer services with a record of being helpful to more than a few, with replicable and valid outcomes. And don’t give your time or money to people who are selling a promise based on an n = 1. If someone is using intuitive work with you, that is cool if they are honest about their approach and authentic in that work. But mixing metaphors of evidence vs personal opinion is the slippery slope that muddies the waters and ultimately confuses our clients who need our focus to be on what we know will work for them.