Recently I made this in my garden:
It’s a new workspace.
It does not meet the long specification that I had written up for my dream office:
- It does not have reliable wifi
- It is not centrally located, near all my clients
- It is not a cosy, safe space to run workshops
- It does not have a spot for making coffee
- It doesn’t have a toilet
- I can’t comfortably nap here if the mood takes me
- I can’t invite people over for creative thinking or project management (without some kind of advance briefing)
- It doesn’t make me look super senior or say Take Me Seriously
- My children and other wildlife can interrupt me at any moment
- It is not a great financial investment that will grow in £ value
The thing is, this dream office list has caused me a great deal of dithering. And underneath it all is fear: If I don’t get my workspace EXACTLY right, lots of bad things will happen.
Here’s some things my new workspace does do extremely well:
- It gets me out of my familiar well-worn habits and moves me into a growth space
- It puts me in nature, into the fresh air & greenery, something I always find especially restorative and creative
- It gets me started… I’m walking my talk
- Sweet commute:
Tara Mohr, author of Playing Big & inspiration for many of the tools I use in my coaching practice, talks about chrysalis time. This post is a touchstone for me: feeling your way is ok – better than ok – it’s essential. Something we don’t give ourselves permission to do very often in our results-orientated business culture.
She says, “if your vision for what is coming next in your life or your work is 95% blank, articulate the 5% you can see – the little fragments, the faint intuitions, the general direction. As you surface that 5%, you accelerate its coming into being and prepare the ground for the next layer of clarity to emerge.” I know I need to be outdoors more, that my work benefits hugely if I am connected to being in nature. I have long held a dream of buying a field with woodland, water, and wildlife, commutable from London and opening up a green workspace for peopled-out introverts and frazzled teams to come and hang out, maybe do some restorative workshops, sit by the firepit at lunch, swing on a rope. I’m sure there’s demand. Everything I ever put in a terrarium or cage died; I know that.
Tara Mohr also talks about ‘This Before That’ as a hiding strategy. My I Must Have Before I Can List is a great barrier from moving out of my cramped and untidy indoor office and into the green space, where growth awaits. Actually, speaking literally and metaphorically, growth doesn’t wait, it just keeps happening all the time anyway. So better to be tending to it, rather than letting it struggle for survival in a poor, malnourishing environment.
The process of building this workspace was really fascinating: I wanted to spend the afternoon in the garden clearing brambles that were scratching my dog. Inner critic voice pipes up: “That’s not a good productive way to spend your day. You have a long to-do list for your business. As an entrepreneur you must work at every moment. Get to your desk and work on that proposal,” with the unspoken threat – “…or else you’ll never be successful”.
I thought “Hmm, interesting, it’s a beautiful day and I really love to be outside, and I REALLY love my dog, and it’s Saturday, so, let’s just go outside and see what happens.”
I cleared brambles in the sunshine for an hour listening to podcasts, while my dog chewed on something unspeakable. Bliss, for both of us.
Then, in the corner of my eye was that bit of the garden where I keep thinking, “I could do something with that. I could put a potting shed or a pergola, or some flagstones, or … something.”
Cue the carousel of objections: “No, the ground is too slopey. The neighbours will get cross. You have better things to spend your money on. You will never use it anyway.
So I thought, well, how do I test all those objections? How do I find out if it’s a good spot to work? Long story short, I moved a bunch of mouldy garden chairs that weren’t being used. Chopped up a load of greenery. Discovered it’s not that slopey after all, it just had a mound of leaves on it. Had so much fun!
I also uncovered a statue that I’d totally forgotten about that was decapitated shortly after we moved in. (The children have ruined every precious and beautiful thing we own, for sure.) I have reunited her with her head. She’s bloody heavy, I couldn’t stand her up again. She’s lying around a bit like Ophelia here:
I like having her nearby. A reminder about not letting one’s head run away with itself. Or the effort needed to keep head and heart close. Or not letting children near anything breakable.
Anyway, people (inc. me) and teams do this… they won’t step forward with an incomplete or an imperfect vision. They get stuck with long lists of Things That Must Happen Before We… They don’t test fear-based assumptions. They get rigid with stale goals. Breakfast People is all about coaching teams and people to step through these, for growth.
Here’s the view as I type this:
If you ever want a green meeting, outdoor coaching session or would like to come and walk the dog with me, you can reach me via my newest recruit: firstname.lastname@example.org.