The Challenge of Working Alone

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Working alone as an entrepreneur poses all sorts of challenges which are quite different from those of employment. Fortunately it offers all sorts of rewards too.

For natural systems, equilibrium is death. In their book “Surfing the Edge of Chaos, " Pascale, Millemann and Gioja, draw lessons for corporations from natural systems, systems of communities in the world of nature. Part of their message is that for natural systems, equilibrium is death and as illustrations they draw on the experiences of American corporations. They go on to describer the need to disturb or threaten the system sufficiently to bring it to the edge of chaos. It is here that the corporation becomes able to resynthesize itself and become ready, prepared and able to respond to the new challenges.

Are you ready for the 200% challenge?

One of the principles applied in coaching is to challenge clients to make advances much bigger than those they would contemplate alone. In many ways this too disturbs the system and provides opportunities for resynthesis. We can often make a ten percent improvement simply by working longer: Not so on receipt of a two hundred percent challenge. The solution can only be found following a dramatic breakthrough inspired by original thought or a completely new synthesis of the resources available.

Learning from the big corporations. . .

Working alone it is very easy to fail to apply, or even recognize, lessons learned through the observation of larger corporations. We have a plan, we work hard ( But do I want you to work hard? No, I want you to work effectively! ). We have a plan, we pursue it diligently, day by day, month by month and if it doesn't work we work longer, do the same thing at different venues. As entrepreneurs working alone, to succeed we must constantly disturb the equilibrium of the natural systems which our businesses represent. And that is so difficult to do!

My challenge for you today. . . .

So my challenge for you today is to diarize the time to regularly reflect on questions like these: What it is that you are doing that makes no sense at all? What is it that consistently delivers no positive results, no return on your investment of time and resources? Which is the market which is dying and where is its successor? Which is the new product or service destined to supersede your offering and what are you doing about it? What can you do to cut your production or delivery costs in half? Which of your personal characteristics stand between you and success and when will you have the courage to recognize that and take action?

When you are ready to grab these questions by the scruff of the neck and take action, hold on tight and be ready for a fabulous ride!

(c) Martin Sawdon, 16th July 2002


Martin Sawdon of Coaching-Works! has a passion for the creation of super-successful organizations - Sustainable Workplaces™. As a coach he has been described as a velvet-gloved bulldozer and as a speaker, powerful, engaging, outstanding.

To learn more about Martin and Sustainable Workplaces™, Sustainable Relationships, and the Sustainable You, visit his website =>


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