Becoming Your Own Consultant in 5 Nifty Steps


In his book ‘How I found Freedom in an Unfree World’, Harry Browne describes a time when he decided to get out of debt:‘At the time I was doing miscellaneous sales jobs for several different companies. I went to the manager of one of the companies and asked him what his worst problem was. What he told me was something I couldn’t do anything about, so I asked him what his second worst problem was.In reply, he explained the difficulty he was having because various administrative personnel weren’t supporting the company’s sales programs. I offered to give them a series of sales lectures, and he accepted the offer. I created a lecture series, together with an incentive system that would reward the administrative personnel for their sales help......I remember the incident well, because the day before I saw the manager, I was sulking in my living room, saying to myself, ‘There’s nothing I can do.’There’s always something you can do. And usually the way to find out what you can do is to ask.’As well as being an ingenious business idea, that final paragraph raises an interesting question: why can’t we be consultants to ourselves?After all, we know ourselves better than anyone. We know what our problems are and, with a little perspective, we know what the best solutions are too.What would happen if we became our own consultants?If we sit down with ourselves and say ‘OK, what’s my biggest problem right now?’, what would the answer be?Once we’ve identified this problem, there are 5 steps we can take:1. Break the problem downChances are, this isn’t a simple problem otherwise you would have rectified it already. There might be many things stopping you, but we’ll look at those in step 4.2. Identify which factors you have control over and which you don’tBe objective. It might feel like you have no control over some aspects of the problem when actually you do. At the same time, you might be taking too much responsibility for some things that you can’t change.3. List the ways you’ve already tried to tackle the things you have control overFor whatever reason, these obviously haven’t worked so far. Accepting that and acknowledging that you’ll have to get a bit creative to solve the problem is an important step. Trying to solve a problem with the same solutions that don’t work is only frustrating and time-consuming.4. List the solutions that you haven’t tried yet and why you haven’t tried themThese reasons might be practical or emotional. Often, we invent practical reasons  to cover the emotional ones. For instance, let’s say I’ve just qualified as a vet and want to open my own practice. I can tell myself that I need a certain amount of funding to do so, need contacts in the industry, need X years’ experience behind me before I can possibly dare to go it alone. In fact, I could probably stay up all night finding reasons why it wouldn't be a good idea for at least another 10 years.5. Look for the story behind the reasonsAll of the practical reasons I gave for not starting my own vet practice can be overcome. What’s really behind all of them is the emotional stuff, namely fear or, more specifically, a fear of failure or even of success. When we look at most problems we encounter, usually the emotion that prevents us from reaching the obvious solution is fear. Fear of failure, fear of success and fear of judgement, from others and ourselves.Once we’ve identified this fear, we can ask ourselves the question: ‘If fear of [insert fear here] wasn’t an issue, what would I do to overcome this problem?’There's the answer.What’s your biggest problem right now? *Thanks to Jake for this great idea!*