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.