THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Meaningless me

Last week I posed the question “so what next?” and shared my struggles to find an answer.

This blog exists for personal catharsis but there is something heartwarming about a record number of views and feedback from those who say they have been moved or inspired. Thank you.

Feeling less alone is part of our healing.

This week I had a long conversation with a top (and I mean top) clinician who, approaching age 50, told me dejectedly that he had “missed the boat” and left it too late to make his mark in business.

You can imagine how much I enjoyed responding that, as 62, I was three years into starting again from square one, having the time of my life.

Thomas Leonard suggested that coaches get the clients that they need to meet.

The clinician also commented that his reluctance to push further in business was partly due to the influence of an entrepreneurial father who had made and lost millions on more than one occasion. His own childhood included experiences of extreme wealth and poverty and he didn’t want to expose himself and family to the same risks.

You might wonder why, then, he was asking for my advice on opening a new business?

Well, that’s what we do isn’t it? We come up with all the reasons why and why not and then tie ourselves in knots – just the same as I did here last week.

Twice more this week, male clients have independently mentioned that their own progress in business and life was thwarted or redirected by the death of their father.

For the first time in ages I found myself thinking about the death of my own father in 1998 after a short illness and I remembered that this was the unexpected catalyst for 2 years of soul-searching that included Frederic Hudson’s book featured last week.

I’ve come to understand that when a man’s father dies, it’s his first realisation of his own mortality – leading to the question “so what next?”

My current search for meaning has, with hindsight, been initiated by the death of the business I featured in the previous post.

Perhaps we need to experience a major emotional trauma to have the motivation to change?

A close friend who has repeatedly failed to quit cigarettes for a couple of years stopped literally overnight 3 weeks ago after a terrifying experience in A&E following his collapse at home caused by an erratic heart beat.

During the last week I wrote a business blog post about creating a private dental corporate. It’s an idea that isn’t new, that I’ve tried before without success and that I’m now (successfully) helping other people to roll out..

“Why not have a go myself?” was part of my current searching.

I spoke independently to both of my founding partners about it during the week.

Their responses were different.

Tim Caudrelier (early 30’s) listened carefully to my analysis and plans, made some insightful observations and ended with “well if you think it can be done then let’s put the money together.”

Now before I share my other partner’s response, let me take you back about 7 years to a Strategic Coach workshop here in England, covering business and personal planning.

I attended with people from a variety of business backgrounds. My interest was two-fold, to see how the folks at Coach did it and also to do some work on myself.

At the end of the first morning, we took lunch in the sunny gardens of our country hotel and I exchanged thoughts with another delegate.

We had been inundated with vision, mission, roles, goals, time management, organisational structure and a host of other provocative concepts.

My brain was hurting, even though I knew it was good for me and I somewhere in the back of my mind a little voice was reminding me of all the work I would need to catch up on when I returned to Planet Chris.

My colleague and I shared our sense of overwhelm and he commented:

“Sometimes I wonder whether it might be better to just be meaningless for a while?”

We both laughed out out loud (at ourselves) and prepared to re-enter the conference.

Now let’s return to the present and my second conversation about building a dental corporate, this time with my other founding partner, Tim Thackrah (early 50’s).

Tim T listened equally carefully to my analysis and plan, made his own useful observations and then asked:

“but what’s the rush?”

I could have said that time was running out for the business opportunity but I realised that what he really meant was:

“but what’s the rush for you?”

That, I have to say, stopped me in my tracks.

He continued….

“look, 7connections is on course, we have loads going on and doors opening to new opportunity all the time, we probably can’t even see some of the things we might be doing in a few years from now.

Your coaching within 7connections is going really well, you are delivering your unique abilities, your balance is better than it has been for years and there is a growing team of people who have your back covered.

You don’t have to be the top salesman in the company, or the cleverest, or work the longest hours, or anything.

Why don’t you just take some time off the next big quest and simply “BE” for a while?

You are more use to the company “thinking” rather than “doing”.”

One of those lightbulb moments.

Not quite being meaningless for a while but just staying in the cocooning and getting ready phases of Hudson’s cycle for a lot longer than I ever have done before – because I can.

It was as if, in that moment, the pressure was taken away.

Last week I was tied in knots about 2016 being do darned organised that I didn’t feel excited.

My solution – find a quest – quickly!

Tim T’s solution – enjoy the moment – slowly.

You know when you just know that it’s the right advice?

So here’s the elegant conclusion that escaped me in last week’s post.

My quest for 2016 is to not have a quest for 2016.

I’m going to take a year to observe, listen, read, attend and to stop and think.

It will be the first time in my adult life I have ever done that.

I’m excited again.

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