Keeping things in perspective, focusing on the positive, staying on target – I would say these have been the greatest benefits of my experience working with professional coach Ben Coe of The Artist Farm. It is a different type of investment that’s hard to put an exact value on, but I feel will give me the best chance of making South Mountain Media succeed when I know the reality that many small businesses fail within their first year. Such experience is not easy to find, and I feel really fortunate that Ben understands the balance between the creative and economic powers. Read on for more of my experiences working with a professional coach.
Take the First Step
I discovered Ben and The Artist Farm after looking up the management for one of my favorite bands, The Infamous Stringdusters, and seeing that they offered coaching services for other professions than musicians. Thus far, my search for career services had returned options that seemed oriented more towards job placement or personal counseling. What I needed was a more objective outlet for my small business ideas than friends and family; someone who would understand my creative and artistic side, while not letting me paint myself into the poor house. Ben has helped me realize that I did not need one all-consuming passion, so instead of trying to force one we have worked on finding links between my many interests where I can direct my enthusiasm in new and possibly profitable ways. This blog is one of the results of that discovery, as we linked into my interests in writing, community and new media.
Get a New Perspective
There are many ways to make a decision, and Ben has taught me that getting a new perspective is one of the most powerful – taking a bird’s-eye view of the immediate choices while keeping the more distant goals in sight. For me, getting a different perspective also meant getting another set of eyes to look at my plans, another set of ears to listen to my ideas and another brain to help me put words and actions together. As I move forward with my first steps in small business, it means a lot knowing that I have someone who is already succeeding at it rooting for me and lending me his experience for the hurdles to come. Now when I am confronted with many immediate decisions that have far-reaching implications, knowing how to change the perspective on a question is a great tool to use.
One of Ben’s coaching goals is to increase overall happiness. In my case, although my day job is both challenging and rewarding, I was beginning to feel frustration at an otherwise ideal working situation. Ben quickly helped me focus my attention back on the positive aspects of my work, while we worked on finding the cause of my dissatisfaction. He used “deep listening” skills, where he not only heard my words at the moment, but connected them during and between each session. By doing this he was able to use my repetitive phrases to help identify the long commute as the real problem, and since then I have been able to arrange for more tele-commuting, saving me 18-20 hours of time and life per week, not to mention travel costs.
Stay On Target
I am easily inspired and always getting new ideas for new business services, so it’s a big advantage to have someone helping me to maintain the focus on my goals. For example, when I mentioned to Ben that I was thinking of developing a presentation for writing better email communication that I could deliver as a corporate seminar, he agreed that it was a good idea, but pointed out that it was quite a bit different from the original goal of South Mountain Media, which is to help small businesses with internet marketing and community building services. Reminding me of my own words from the weeks before made me realized that even though it might have been a good idea, it would take me in quite a different direction than my other efforts and I would run the risk of spreading myself thin. Ben has a very good understanding of the creative spirit and helps me to keep my energy focused on my goal for independence.
If you’re enjoying this blog, then you should thank Ben Coe. While evaluating my skills, interests and ambitions, Ben helped me identify writing as a skill that I enjoy, but could use more effectively and creatively. He suggested a blog as a way to explore the wide variety of subjects in which I have interest without over-committing to any one of them. This was just one of several pieces of sage advice I’ve received from Ben over the last five months of working with a professional coach.
Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.