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Our Businesses, Our Selves - Page 6


After several months, John found, to his delight, that his business was easier to operate: his billing was done on time each month, he'd collected past-due receivables, and his clean office and new, computerized calendar made his weekly administrative tasks a breeze. With his newfound energy, he was ready to move into the fifth (orange) stage and focus on expansion and achievement. John was jumping with at least three new ideas each week for expansion that interested him. Once people acquire a new set of eyes for gazing on a world of sparkling possibilities, they also need a filter for sorting all those opportunities. I suggested that he develop a set of six questions that would help him evaluate each potential opportunity. His questions were:

1. Is it, or will it be, profitable, and when?

2. Will this allow me to do better work as a therapist?

3. Will I have fun doing this?

4. What's my gut feeling about this opportunity?

5. What do I gain if I say no?

6. What do I gain if I say yes?

How did these questions help John sort through the onslaught of possible opportunities? One of his colleagues who had many legal contacts had built a practice of couples therapy with court-referred families. He asked John to join him in setting up a partnership to offer workshops and training for other mental health therapists who do the same kind of court-referred counseling. The colleague said the referral rate from the courts and lawyers was substantial, but many therapists didn't know how to do strategic, effective counseling with this population; he and John would show them. Using the six questions above, John thought that it could be very profitable, but only after about two years of hard work and marketing the workshops. He was expert in couples counseling and enjoyed training others, but decided that this project, while interesting in itself, wouldn't actually help him become a better therapist. As to whether it would be fun and what his gut feeling was, John said, "I'm not sure. I like the guy quite a lot, but the 'fun' part of the deal would probably be outweighed by the sheer drudgery of getting it off the ground." What would he gain from saying no? More time to pursue interests that he really knew he liked. What would he gain from saying yes? Possibly a new income stream--training could be a good profit generator down the road. In the end, John decided against the offer since the negatives seemed to predominate.

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