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Too much structure in business and life is constricting, that’s how it feels when I ponder about it.
That if I have systems and plans, I’m going to feel constrained, it will bottleneck my expression and creativity in business.
So I’ll do the opposite, I’ll stay spontaneous, winging it, make it up as I go along.
It feels like we have to choose one or the other, being a boring business person who sets things out and does what I say I’m going to do. Or keep my inner free-spirit energised by living in the moment, doing as I like and feeling into what needs to happen each day.
Except here’s the thing I know from experience and from clients, neither scenario in it’s extreme works. Neither end of the spectrum helps us run a sustainable and profitable business.
So what can we do instead?
We can identify why systems or structure repulse us. Repulse may be a strong word for those who like to embrace structure. Structure to me used to feel like being caged, a complete lack of freedom, de-energising. Except the extreme end of being unstructured (in business), is that it’s actually exhausting, hard on my nervous system, I get distracted often and it’s mentally taxing.
For some of us, we seek the feeling of freedom and spontaneity, but as a result create more work for ourselves inadvertently.
The flip side of this may result in being overly rigid, so structured and systematised that navigating away from this architecture is unsettling, destabilising and somewhat fear-inducing. If I don’t do the weekly transfer, set up client payments a very efficient way or send invoices on this exact day I may not get paid ever, or I’m not a good business woman, or fiscally-responsible adult (whatever that really is…). The world may fall apart, there is a very specific way things should be done. Basically, don’t f*ck with my system or my ogre will come out.
Sometimes this leads to being over-boundaried and in business that can be quite tiring to uphold, isolating and feel unnatural.
I’ve done work with both clients and at times been both. I thought the way to fix the unstructured-ness was to be very structured and when that didn’t make me feel better I realised there is a better way.
This is not an either/or scenario.
You do not have to choose to be very organised or entirely spontaneous when it comes to business, you can choose parts of both.
And in doing so we can ultimately see the message in the extremes of both behaviours and use that knowledge about ourselves to design our own sustainable businesses.
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When we are seeking structure, it can be related to wanting more security and safety from our business. Structure, support and systems help us to feel more in control. But we can also do this by creating a rhythm in our business; which is really good for our health and rest patterns as well as adding strong foundations, this all frees up mental space and time. Even further to this, additional ‘layers’ of safety in your business may mean bringing in some large paying clients or products. It could be through collaborations, or additional support. These all contribute to feeling different about our businesses, in a good way.
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When we are over-structured, or over-controlling, we are at times trying to prevent pain or suffering. Past experiences may have shown us where lack of structure or control has caused this. When we are sensitive or empathetic, we may feel like we need to control our environment or our environment may control us. We may be seeking more certainty or stability if the business world feels like a swirling, out of control ocean or that we’re being forced to manipulate or negate our values and priorities to ‘make it work’ or ‘be profitable’. Ultimately, it can also be a protection mechanism on our time and energy. But being overly rigid, invoking unattainable expectations or insisting on certainty can be tiring, isolating and can involve tonnes of anxiety or future-projecting about challenging situations.
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The key here is identifying when you’re in a place of healthy structure and flow. And this is individual, there is no one-size-fits all approach.
The way we go about this in Illuminate: A 5 mth Money Group Program for Women in Business, is by layering foundations and structure till you feel like it is the right fit for you. We are all personally different, have had different life experiences and have varying personalities.
Some ways we do this include:
– identifying where you have become accustomed or have a high tolerance for chaos and disorder and asking how does this serve you?
– what areas in your business or finances are you overly-rigid and what safety is perceived from doing this?
– what areas do you most resist structure or systems? Or which areas are you inflexible?
– what are your stories and inner narrative around having little structure or requiring plenty of structure?
At the end of the day, it is about understanding what is healthy structure, systems and strategies- FOR YOU.
We can’t run sustainable businesses, that looks after our health, relationships and energy if we negate or cling too tightly to these aspects of business.
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