You gotta love Les Potter. Check out his recent post on working alone as a sole proprietor. This is one of the two questions I get asked most often by people considering going out on their own. I’ve been at it for nearly as long as Les.
So, question one is how do you stand the loneliness? What loneliness? I’m on the phone, I’m doing e-mail, I’m responding to text messages, or I’m traveling. Would everyone please leave me alone so I can get some work done?
Then, working from the fabulous home office (which I do love), there’s the dog who wants to out, the husband to want me to run to the garden center with him, the kids who blast in the door at 3:25 every afternoon “can I go play?” Oh please, bring me some loneliness.
And, Les is right about getting involved in various things. As chair of the 2008 IABC Southern Region Conference, loneliness went pretty much out the window about a year ago. I have an amazing team that I am in near constant contact with, especially as we get closer to the event. And, now the homeowner’s association fence committee is calling.
So, the second question I hear is how do you deal with the ambiguity of being on your own? This one’s much tougher. Les didn’t address this issue, but I actually think this one is harder for people than the loneliness factor.Â
First, this is not unique to sole proprietors any more. I got this question from a client prospect just this week. “Our environment is changing so fast and the future is really uncertain. Our people are having a hard time dealing with the ambiguity.” At it’s core, this about our inherent discomfort with change. This about our desire for certainty, for consistency, for sameness.Â
I think ambiguity is increasingly becoming an issue in all aspects of life: work, no matter where you work; family life; health. At work, communicators can help by constantly reinforcing that change is ok, even good. For example, communicators writing message for an organization in bankruptcy better not look to the end of the bankruptcy as the end game. “We just have to get there.” Then, there will be another change. We have to stop talking to employees with benchmark or dateline language.Â
Instead, use these changes as opportunities to get people more comfortable with change and with ambiguity. They can be exciting opportunities to try new things, explore new territory, innovate! Watch the language you use and make certain it always supports acceptance of change and ambiguity.