Thursday, March 19, 2009
New Growth: A "Right Brained Buisiness Plan"
Its wonderfully synchronistic that today, on the first day of Spring, our discussion centers on "new growth":
When I first began searching for a niche for my art therapy counseling practice I felt very wide open. Actually I felt more like I had just fallen off of a cliff. I nearly exhausted myself from investigating any avenue that seemed even remotely viable and worrying if such was worth the time and effort. I felt unfocused and that concerned perhaps I was spreading myself too thin.
While sitting in a coffee shop, attempting to subdue my anxiety with caffeine and sugar (Does that really ever have the desired effect?) I created the image above in my sketch book/planner. It is a small planter with grass-lings just beginning to emerge from the surface. A cross section of the planter is cut away to reveal the seeds that have begun to germinate below. Similar to other experiences when I think in images, I had to sit with the grass-ling image for a minute of two before I was able to verbally articulate what was going on. I soon realized the image was a "right brained person's business plan" and an attempt to define my burgeoning practice.
Oh lovely serendipity! Here is the definition dicitionary.com has for "burgeoning":
"To put forth new buds, leaves, or greenery; sprout.
To begin to grow or blossom.
To grow or develop rapidly. "
Each of the little seeds corresponds with a particular avenue I am investigating as a possible partner or population for Denver Art Therapy Counseling Co. After I drew the image I felt much better. It dawned on me that of course my process should be very exploratory in the beginning and I will probably plant many more seeds than will result in actual viable plant, i.e., opportunities, clients, jobs, etc. In fact, contary to my initial fear of spreading myself to thin, it is wise to plant a bunch of seeds, as at the moment I am unable to tell which seeds will receive the right amount of water and sunlight to develop into a mature plant - ie, a viable opportunity. As I was thinking this I added the sun, representing those external elemental factors outside of my control. I just plant the seeds.
So at this moment, I am exactly where I need to be. Until recently the majority of the action has been hidden below the surface like the germinating seeds. A very wise mentor of mine articulated this well when I was essentially whining to her about the laborious process of cultivating a client base. She recommended that for this first year I focus on cultivating my brand identity and making connections, literally laying down deep roots for a fruitful practice. How naive of me to expect plants to magically emerge without first establishing roots!
A few of my investments/ seeds have just begun to be visible above the surface of the soil, and have resulted in monetary gain,(green grass, green money). At this point it, it is still difficult to tell which ones will be the most suitable opportunity for my interests and abilities. I am noticing however, that I am already putting more energy into the grass-lings that seem best suited to me as they come up (the water canister). Eventually there will come a time I need to prune the plant, and cease investing energy and resources in some grass-lings in order to focus more resources on other so that they may grow even taller.
Given the upheaval in the economy as of late, I would recommend that job seekers consider their own job search process in a manner similar to how I am approaching growing my practice. For some of the unemployed who have begun to look for work in other fields, such a shift in identity is likely overwhelming. I encourage said persons to embrace this transition time, and sow many seeds, understanding that not all of them will take root and sprout. Again, going back to the metaphor of nature, I reflect on spring and fall. They are the in between seasons, marking the transition between cold and heat, light and dark. To me, they are undoubtedly the most exciting. They are seasons of harvest and new growth.
(Note: I created and synthesized my image before I heard of the term "right brained business plan". I am applying the term to my process as it is completely apropos, but I need to give credit to www.artizencoaching.com for helping me to find the words. I encourage job seekers and creative entrepreneurs to check out this site for a unique approach to cultivating your best life.)