‘I’m at a cross-roads’ said my friend, when I bumped into him last week ‘my last project didn’t work at all, and I’m keeping our family going just with established consultancy I’ve had for years’.
He then went on to blame himself and how he hadn’t marketed sufficiently well. I interrupted.
Truth is, where he operates (Wales) we have a public sector economy, where his speciality which is training and development gets heavily state subsidized and most people expect to get it for free.
Standards slip as a result, good development is not valued, and if you want to provide, you have to be exceptionally adept at filling in government tender forms. Often the preoccupation is how the government’s logo will be displayed on administration, rather than the effectiveness and evaluation of any training. If you’re bureaucratic as a provider you’re much more likely win a tender, as institutions like to buy from other institutions.
Luke Johnson wrote well about this last week – but he’s behind a paywall – what it boils down to is that institutionalization is ****cks, as regards progress and economic growth.
Anyway, my friend’s plight made me think about long term success and fitting-in. Wherever you are, if you do brave and interesting work, then you will feel isolated and some others will clobber you for it. They will envy your guts and your enterprise. They will police your every move and look for where you bend the rules. Their cowardice may make them intensely malevolent towards you.
But never mind. For though you may experience fear, paranoia and a horrible knawing loneliness, you are pursuing your own truth and your own values, hopefully based on analysis, experience and listening that someone, somewhere wants what you are doing.
You will need to resist the temptation to fight or flee in circumstances where you feel intense discomfort. You will want to root yourself to the floor, noticing the churning in your stomach but not reacting to it, and slowly and intentionally going through the motions required of the occasion.
You may feel on the periphery of many tribes and this is good – for if you were just with your own tribe how could you serve others? Online, there are the most tremendous peer pressure forces to hang out with people like ourselves : but they may not always be the people to benefit best from what we do.
So braves, keep your courage and your integrity and insulate against the inevitable isolation by keeping family and friends as your social duvet. Winter is coming.
ps but marketing does matter too….