Friday, August 12, 2011

Inspiring Action - Taking the plunge!

I was tossing and turning about whether I should be talking this candidly...? won't I lose face? Will clients and potential business partners still consider me 'an expert' or more importantly somebody they want to do business with, or turn to and trust when looking to make important business or personal decisions.

After a decade of working in the personal and professional development industries I recognized these thoughts as just that..thoughts. Not reality, just the perspective I happened to have at that time, 'limiting beliefs' some would say. And by being able to recognize them I know I can then choose to disregard them or even just change focus so they disappear off into the background. But this was a big decision for me so they didn't go away so easily so I decided to just be comfortable with them sitting there in the background. So what was my dilemma and what has it got to do with inspired action?

To review the scene, the theme for this current series of blogs covers questions like, why do we need inspiration? can we become inspired? does it help us? The reason for this theme is that like many people I have noticed how over the past 10 yrs work, technology and lifestyle changes has caused life to become more stressful and as a society our well being and prosperity - our enjoyment of life - is being affected...drastically! If we are on a raft racing down a river and getting thrown around dangerously in rapids that constantly tower above us and batter against the raft leaving some people worn out and others just frazzled. Many of us disagree with these trends and want to make changes or work and live in ways that allow us to feel better, be more productive and be happier! But to do so successfully requires that we go, in many ways, against the flow of the river. This requires a change of direction or a burst of energy to get out of the rapids - this can require a leap of faith.

So what was my dilemma? Well I have been working as an executive coach and running my Spark program for about 4 yrs now so have developed into a really effective program that has worked well and provided great value for many people. But from a commercial point of view the main income source for my business has been a corporate health contract. So whilst Spark has got great results with both individuals and teams in areas of professional, organizational and personal development, it is not operating as a sustainable commercial entity. Anyway, 9 months ago I made the decision to focus completely on growing Spark as a self-sustaining business. After 9 yrs in the fitness industry, then 2 years as a corporate health contractor this felt like a major decision. My inspiration was crystal clear - I was desperate to grow my business in a direction that aligned my strengths as a coach and entrepreneur with my values around performance, productivity and prospering. I had been desperate to do this for years and had always been good at helping people but had stumbled time and time again when it came to charging for my service at professional levels. And so for years, my dream had been just that...a pie in the sky dream. But this time I took action to make it a reality.

So I started working with a business coach and this provided a great source of inspiration and support and I spent the next 6 months updating my products and preparing all my marketing materials, online web-stuff & strategy. I know know from experience how to be inspired, overcome challenges and achieve goals. I have overcome alcohol dependance, dropped 25kg, set up a business in the UK and sold it 7 yrs later and started a business in Australia with just $5'000 and a scooter. But in the back of my mind I still found myself looking for get-out strategies so I decided I needed to explore and understand inspiration better so I started to talk to people.

I spoke to some friends of mine, Jim & Lou who had just left their corporate jobs in Sydney to move to Byron Bay for a sea-change and to start their own business - wow, that is an inspired move I thought! I spoke to James & Jimmy at Fluid health where my office is, who turned their dream into Myotherapy business in Port Melbourne on the smell of an oily rag and a credit card and who have in 2 yrs grown a strong local community with loyal customers, happy staff, partnerships with sporting organisations such as Tri-alliance and Melbourne Ice Hockey.

I interviewed many different inspirational people who have achieved inspirational goals. Jonni and Elvira have both managed to survive and thrive with chronic life threatening health conditions. Kathy turned a professional disaster into an opportunity to start an industry leading business that has had a far reaching impact in the community. And the list goes on...

I started an acting course and an african drumming course in which inspiration and giving your all for the performance is fundamental.

And I continued to read books. I read about a pioneering heart surgeon who explained with solid science how important love and community spirit is for protecting against heart disease and chronic health conditions (Dr Dean Ornish - Love and Survival) . I read about an entrepreneur (Ricardo Semlar) in brazil who, in the last 30 yrs has turned a $4million struggling business (Semco) into a $35 million+ enterprise that is the industry leader and the No.1 organisation to work for in Brazil - and its all based on wanting his workers to prosper and feel fulfilled in their jobs & a steadfast dedication to democracy at work....Inspirational!

And all these experienced helped me, and I was moving forward and beginning to generate leads into Spark but not fast enough. Then 3 months ago (April) the marketing stuff was all looking good and I realized that it was time to transition again and really focus my attention on sales. You see as a researched inspiration and faith, I realized that I hadnt fully and completely taken that leap of faith. I was 80% there, but rather than commit to jumping out of the raft and swimming for the side of the river with all my might I was still looking for a life support to cling onto.

Where does 80% come from? Well I knew my budgets and with the contracting work slowing down the only way for me to generate income moving forward was through Spark. I had a 3-4 month buffer but with business bill and a personal mortgage to pay the money had to start coming in soon. BUT I hadn't fully committed because I was still looking for contracting work. It sounds like a subtle problem...but I knew in my heart that I was looking because I was not fully committing! I knew that for Spark to prosper, I needed to really give it my all.

Mic Jagger from the Rolling Stones once sang 'we can't always get what we want, but we get what we need'. And the world has funny ways of making this happen. This is how it has happened for me. Firstly I was in a meeting three weeks ago with an opportunity to make $5'000, but it a way that I felt would undermine Spark and I literally lost control of my brain. It was a good opportunity with a wonderful potential business partner. But I just froze, I couldn't understand it at the time but it was like my unconscious mind was holding me back. Secondly after a weeks holiday in Fiji I arrived back to discover an accounting error I had made resulting in me having a lot less money in the bank than I thought. With the mortgage looming and projected income alot less than projected expenses.....scary! Then on Tuesday my laptop was stolen. I didnt lose any data but it would $1000 to replace it.

I had been in these types of situations before and went through a range of thoughts and emotions. Pissed off, gutted, annoyed, depressed....I could save money here, make money there or I could just get a short term job....But with each set back I also felt more inspired and energised! I know in my heart that non of these options are what I REALLY want. What I really want in my heart is to stay inspired and committed to what I believe in. To just plunge 100%, and do what ever it takes to make Spark sustainable whilst honoring the vision and values I believe in.

So here I am for all to see. Feeling exposed...but at the same time energised and inspired like never before. Part of me felt that by writing this blog and making it public that Spark is not yet a commercially sustainable product I would lose credibility in the eyes of my clients and prospective clients. But I know know its nothing to do with them. Its the 80% credibility I have felt for myself that holding me back. To be an entrpreneur 80% doesnt cut it, it's all or nothing. I reckon its similar for many transitions - from manager to leader, weightloss, achieving work/life balance. We can have a big budget, create inspiring visions, understand our values and design brilliant plans but the secret ingredient is not physical or financial or written down on paper. The source of our inspiration is our inner spirit. It defies logic and lifts us forward in a leap of faith. It requires total commitment to gaining awareness and improving ourselves...then taking action!

As I sit here at the keyboard I really feel alive. I don't know whats in-store for the future but i am excited about it, that's for sure!

If you want some inspiration to kick-start your own lifestyle change or develop your career listen to the Spark 5 Step Audiobook FREE by clicking here

To keep up to date with everything that is happening at Spark click here

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