July 2, 2021

Ode to The Mad Adviser

I used to think it was just me doing this thing.

You know, this waking up at 3:00 am thing.
Fretting about every possible real and imaginary little problem that besets my business life.

Hearing this tiny voice in my head saying…
“Aren’t you just a little insane?
Choosing to make a living like this?
You could have stayed in a proper job, you know!”

But it’s not just me. Is it?

20 years of coaching later, I’ve come to realise.
It’s you too.

Choosing to do this mad thing.
This thing of running, of leading, a small business.

In a Thinking Bench issue in March…
I referred to that delightful film ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’

Everyone – including the inept manager, Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel) thought that the Exotic Marigold Hotel (for retirees) was insolvent. Until Muriel (Maggie Smith) – having investigated the hotel’s accounts – declares:
“Yes, the hotel can work. Just not in the hands of a lunatic!”

(You know, there’s a reason why 80% of new businesses fail in the first five years!)

So, choosing to do this thing of founding or running or leading a small business does beg the question:
“Are we all slightly mad?”

Ever so slightly.

Recently, I decided to take my little coaching practice to new heights.
To build something more influential. Something more robust and substantial. Something more long-lasting.

Dreams of grandeur.

So, I started gathering skilled people around me.
To help build this dream.

Pretty soon I started getting feedback. From one. Then from others…
Clear messages about how I needed to change, if this dream was to become reality.

The messages all distilled to this:

“David, this dream of yours can work. Really.
Just not in the hands of…”

This slight madness plays out when we recruit people to help us.
(Whether we bring them inhouse. Or we outsource.)

We do that… while still holding desperately to the belief that we don’t have to learn to become leaders.

As if this is a multiple-choice game.

It’s not reality, is it?
Not really.

The minute we recruit another human being into our world…
We’ve already made our choice.

Then our role changes.

We can no longer wallow in the luxury of “Doing My Financial Planning Thing”.
Not in good conscience.

Now there are people staring at us.
Asking questions.
Looking to us for leadership.

So, what do we do now?

Well, we can step up to the job.

We can stare at our hands.
And remind ourselves…

“Yes, this thing I dream of can really work!
Just not in the hands…”

Refer back to the Thinking Bench of March 19, 2021