Our conversations rarely touched on money – instead, we talked about the impact and value we bring to our clients.
I have been in private practice since 2011 and the last eight years have taught me several things. All of them are similar to tending a garden.
- You often need a wheel barrow of crap to help your garden grow. Crap work is the stuff we wish we could avoid like administrative details, maintaining a social media presence, chasing invoices, scheduling, or networking. My wheel barrow may not look like yours, but we all have to fertilize and pull some weeds to get a garden to grow.
- You think you are growing perennials, but you only get one season of growth. I love tulips, and every spring I wonder if they will bloom. In one area of my yard, they do; but in an area that I tended with great care; they never reappeared. It is a reminder that I always need a variety of seeds in the soil so that some type of growth or work, is always occurring.
- Sometimes the plants in the neighbor’s yard start to grow in mine. Thanks to the networking efforts of birds and bees, I have beautiful bushes with purple blooms growing in spaces I did not actively create. This is true in practice as well; often our best work comes through the generosity of our colleagues. Stay in community and enjoy how your garden can benefit from someone else’s careful planting.
- Have a variety of flowers in your garden. It can be a bit boring only to have red petunias. True beauty comes in different heights, variation, and color. This requires some creativity and careful attention each season to what you plant. In practice, we cannot always assume that one client organization will always renew their contract. We need an assortment of small, medium, and large size connections that keep the garden mixed and diverse. If one bush starts to die off, it creates space for something else to grow.
- Last, not everything has to be a flower. Pumpkins can grow like crazy and so do strawberries (unless you have a black lab who believes everything in the yard is his salad. He once ate an entire zucchini patch). As the garden expands, you may want to rotate what you grow or perhaps add a walking path, fish pond, or some trees. Each of these can represent different parts of your practice that are significant.
You do not have to be a solopreneur for this garden metaphor to resonate. Relationships, projects, work streams, divisions, and responsibilities are all represented in your professional garden. As Spring descends, consider not only what you plant in your actual garden at home, but also your professional one.
Is your garden growth by design, or is it accidental? What needs pruning or watering? Where is the soil ready for something new?