Ray Bradbury’s quote, “You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down" may sound extreme but, as anyone building a business knows, it has a lot of truth in it.
As a newly self-employed journalist / writer and life coach, I found Barbara Winter’s book, “Making a Living Without a Job" invaluable so when I got a chance to interview her and Nick Williams in London, I was delighted. Barbara advocates having Multiple Profit Centres so her approach is ideal for writers, coaches and other entrepreneurs as we often build our incomes by developing several strings for our bows.
Barbara co-founded the Dreambuilders Community with her friend Nick Williams. They are bringing entrepreneurs together so we can support and inspire each other. Between them, they have several decades of entrepreneurial experience.
Nick Williams has inspired countless entrepreneurs with his bestsellers including “The Work We Were Born To Do". Nick is also founder of Heart at Work London and a trustee Director of Alternatives.
Barbara remembers first becoming self-employed, “I couldn’t find any kind of guidance for the sort of business I wanted so it was very trial and error. I didn’t know anybody else creating a one-person business so I was a real slow upstart. "
Nick says, “I always enjoyed working with people. I enjoyed helping people and being in service to people. So I began to think maybe that was what I was going to do but there was a lot of fear because I had to change my life and I didn’t know how I was going to do it. So I think a lot of my teaching comes out of my experience and compassion. "
Barbara wants to bring everyone together. She says, “I think we nag about that in the Dreambuilders Community, about building your own network of self-employed people. It’s incredibly important. "
Asked if he ever wanted to give up on his own dreams, Nick says, “I think, ‘What else would I do?’ Do I want to go work in a shop? No. Do I want to serve sandwiches? No. Really, I am totally committed to my life so any setback is just an obstacle to overcome. I get back on track by laughing about it. "
Barbara adds, “Even in the dark times, I never believed it was permanent. With all the challenges, there was always a part of me that knew it was going to work eventually. It was something I still had to discover but I knew I would. And like Nick, I’d think, ‘If I’m not doing this, what will I do?’ And there was nothing else I wanted to do.
Nick says, “Once you get on the path, it’s about committing. You have to just keep committing and saying ‘I’ll make this work. ’ So my focus shifted to ‘How can I make this work?’"
From a coaching perspective, this makes complete sense. You decide on your goal, work towards it and check to see if you’re getting the results you want. If you’re not, work out what you can do differently to make sure you get the outcome you’re after.
Nick and Barbara have different versions about their meeting. Nick says, “She stalked me. "
Barbara says, “That’s his version. You know, sometimes you meet people in your life and it’s inevitable and that was it with him. I read his book and by the third chapter, I knew we had to work together. I’d never had that experience from reading a book before. I’d read books where I thought I’d love to meet the author but this was different. His email address was in there so we started emailing. "
They are great ambassadors for self-employment. Nick loves, “being self-motivated, being able to generate ideas for myself and follow them through. If I have an idea I just do it. No committees or having to write papers and ask for permission. I like that ability to think and do. "
Barbara struggled with loneliness but says, “In a way, that’s really been a gift because I’m able to talk about it and understand people who find themselves on their own and feel very, very isolated. I’ve become a bit of a nag about the importance of having self-employed friends because they’re the ones you call up and they understand exactly what you mean. "
She adds, “We were talking about inspired parenting today. I think when people are happily self-employed and they have children, they become an amazing role model for them. So many people grow up with bad messages about work. Their parents go away all day and come back cranky. The children don’t know what they did all day but it obviously didn’t make them happy. "
Nick says, “One of the things we can do with Dreambuilders is serve people by offering learning programmes. Someone who has an idea but doesn’t know how to make it happen could come to our programme. We are looking at ways to create this for people. There’s no course about it at university. People think you’re either born with it or not but we could help people learn. "
Nick and Barbara bubble with enthusiasm for all the embryonic businesses they want to support. They remind me of Mark Twain’s quote: “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that but the really great make you feel that you too can become great. "
Barbara: “I don’t know how long it takes to do something I’ve never done before. Be gentle with yourself. " Nick: “One of the ways through resistance is a sense of humour. " Barbara: “Sometimes the people who are ahead of you are there because they were born before you. " Nick: “How we deal with failure links with how we feel about fear. Most people are brought up to avoid fear or to defend themselves against it. " Barbara: “When we see someone who’s really masterful, we forget how long it took them to get there because we didn’t see their failures. " Nick: “I used to think, ‘If I could just face these fears and be clear of them, I’d be alright. ’ The day I realised it was a daily activity, I was very disappointed. "
For more information about Barbara and Nick, see www.dreambuilderscommunity.com and www.alternatives.org.uk
Barbara Winter’s 1993 book “Making a Living Without a Job: Winning Ways for Creating Work that You Love" began as a seminar she created and taught for several years. It has become the US’s longest running adult education programme. Her most recent book, “Jump Start Your Entrepreneurial Spirit" is out now.
Nick Williams is the author of “The Work We Were Born to Do", “Unconditional Success" and “Powerful Beyond Measure". His most recent book, “How to Be Inspired" is also out now.
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Eve Menezes Cunningham is an accredited life coach specialising in coaching entrepreneurs and writers. See http://www.applecoaching.com for more information.
She is also a freelance journalist / writer and specialises in personal development, business and social issues.