So I’m hoping that everyone is considering a break or has already taken one as it is officially the summer season. Those of us who live on the East Coast have the luxury of beautiful beaches nearby and I have already been several times and am back again! I want to write this week about how important it is to take a break! We are no good to anyone if we are ragged out.
We in the social and human service fields, and even more so those of us in the independent consulting business, tend to work ourselves nearly to death. Our fields are the ones with the highest burnout rates. You may not be able to take a week or even several days, but anyone can put down the computer/phone and go take a walk. Or pick up a book, a non-work related book! Consider your life today, look and see where or if there is a balance of health, work, spirit, and sense of self. Do you have any of these that are out of balance? If so, I want you to try and identify that area and work to get some balance back to it.
Trust me, I understand that we go through phases where we have deadlines, I was on a grant last week for 10 hours one day, but I think it is critical to our success and to our longevity in the field that if we pull those days then we also give ourselves some time to do “nothing” (whatever your definition of that might be) for a bit. So, this week, as I sit on the sand myself, with my computer close by, I will be musing on how to take a break and how to work, how to live and how to rest, striking a balance will be the key theme.
In keeping with the week’s theme, lets turn today about some of the more mysterious weaknesses with which we struggle. In working with clients one of the main catches can be a concern for how the client feels or what he/she thinks about you as a consultant. This is certainly something we don’t want to let go of completely, as it is healthy for us to consider what others think of us. I mean blatant disregard for public opinion can be troublesome. However, I think there is a potential weakness here for the independent consultant. It is easy to get caught up in the concern for what the client thinks about you because we are all wanting to get and keep business. I want to encourage those of us out there today who may struggle with this to shift the focus.
Try and focus on the work. How can I as the consultant truly enhance the evaluation process, programming clarity, or capacity of the agency regardless of the client’s opinion of me. Just focus, like a laser on the tasks…focus on the points of enhancement. The limitation can be that we spend more time focusing on being “attractive” or “meaningful” to the client and less time being authentic about the work itself. I’ve recently had to come to terms with the fact that at any given meeting there is likely 1 or 2 persons who generally just don’t care for me for one reason or another. If I know that I am concentrating on the work at hand and focusing on that with all that I can then I must understand that this is a personal problem on their end and not a reflection of me. There will, of course, be clients who would rather you kiss their you know what that really be effective to them as a client and I guess the question there is how much are they willing to pay me? For me, in this stage in my life and career it is much more important for me to be able to focus on the quality of my product as an evaluation consultant than on someone’s opinion of me.
In short…focus on your work and don’t let someone’s opinion of you become a limitation!
Call or email a client from your past today. Cultivating the relationship is very much a part of the independent consultant’s job. The quick tip I offer today is the logic model. The tried and true trusty logic model. Many people are moving away from it, but its simplicity allows for quick and easy focus on the work that needs to be done. Today, when you email or call a past client offer to them the suggestion to use a 2 minute single activity version of the logic model when they are directing staff for the day or at a staff meeting. Ask staff to find 1 thing that they focus on that day. What do they put into that? Are they utilizing all the resources at hand? What exactly do they do with that client (are they following procedure as the best practice recommends?) and finally are they getting the results they desire (all of the results they desire)? Quick and powerful, this single activity focus can create an agency that is managing performance and thus increasing its evaluation capacity! The 2 minute single activity logic model…use it today!