Are You Playing Small?
By Drue Lawlor, FASID
Director of Coaching at Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting
“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the
one you are capable of living.” ~Nelson Mandela
If you were about to retire and looking back on your career, would you be consumed with “should have’s”, or would you feel proud of your firm’s legacy”?
It’s never too late to change course. As someone who chose a career in a creative field, you should be able to appreciate the past while embracing positive new opportunities for the future. What is it that seems to hold you back and prevent you from “playing big”?
Are you letting fear defeat you? What is the worst thing that could happen? Consider taking the advice of Coco Chanel: “Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” Don’t let fear contribute to a “should have” list. Consider what you have already achieved in your business. Replay those testimonials from happy clients – and you may want to post them where you will see them every day.
Do you wait to be approached for your design expertise, or to promote your business? Maybe you think it is too aggressive to put yourself out there? Change your thinking and focus instead of all the prospective clients who could benefit from your expertise, but may never know about your firm because you were sitting waiting for them to find you. If you are always waiting to be discovered, the opportunity may never happen. Put yourself out there – set up an effective marketing plan. Network effectively – meaning you show that you care about building relationships with others but you are also ready with a unique selling proposition (USP) that clearly identifies what sets you apart. Volunteer to speak or write about design if it will reach your ideal clients.
Don’t be cowed by criticism. Follow the advice of one of my heroes, John Wooden: “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.” Instead, put both to use. Use valid praise to evaluate what your firm is doing well, and use valid criticism to indicate what your firm may need to address and improve upon.
Identify what makes your firm unique and build on that. Be aware of and learn from the competition, but don’t try to imitate someone else. You should instead focus on making your firm stand out in the marketplace, which also means you do not try to appeal to everyone. Identify your niche and your ideal client.
Finally, do you let “busy” signify successful? To think big you need to take action and act like the CEO of your company. Take control of your time, prioritize CEO activities, delegate other activities, and build an effective team to help you think big!
Follow the advice of Nelson Mandela, and don’t settle for playing small – aim rather for creating the firm you are truly capable building.