self portrait writing lists at Cafe Gratitude, Berkeley, CA, Canon Rebel Xti
A few years ago I read a fantastic book called The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What do Do About It. (If you are running a small business or you are thinking of starting one I highly recommend it)
One of the best things I learned from the book was about the three basic roles that exist in any successful business. The Entrepreneur, The Manager and The Technician. The entrepreneur is the visionary. She is the person that looks at the big picture, creates a vision for where the company is going and creates a plan for how the business must operate to get there. The manager supervises, oversees the day to day operations and makes sure systems are in place that allow things to work efficiently. The final role in this trio is the Technician. This is the person that gets the job done. In my case, the technician designs the jewelry, puts it together, ships the packages and communicates with the clients.
The problem in a lot of creative businesses is that the artist stays too long in the role of the Technician (making the pies, the jewelry, the music) and rarely steps out to embody the other roles. Also, because the Technician is the doer, they often want to do it all themselves and believe they are the only ones that can do the job. (Hello me!) This leads to burnout for the artist and an imbalance in the business that doesn’t allow it to grow. Besides that, no one is managing the big picture and asking important questions about the business itself.
As I come out of a wonderfully busy Mother’s Day season, I can’t help but notice how steeped I am in Technician. I am your little workhorse and whatever you need done I will hop to it with lightning speed! I’ve become a little doing machine, not just in my business but in the rest of my life as well. Whether it’s packaging orders or getting Ben his bottle, I am so deep in doing mode I can barely see straight. I am literally breathless.
I long for the manager in me to rise up and see that we need to find some recipes, make a list and go to grocery store. I long for the visionary that can step back and imagine where Ben might go to preschool and how we’re going to pay for it. I need someone who can write a budget, plan some trips for the summer, and get some healthy food on the table every night. I long to be one of those people that cooks for the week on Sunday. Who are these people? and how do you do it?
Just as this book warns that just playing the role of technician will eventually lead to burnout, I see that this imabalance is true for regular life as well. Before Ben and when I still lived in the city, I used to take a lot of public transportation. I never minded an hour long bus or train ride because it gave me time to write in my journal. This usually consisted of me making copious lists. I made lists of things to do that day. I made lists of dreams I had. I made lists of trips I wanted to take, camera equipment I wanted to buy and what our boy would look like when he came into our lives. I made lists of what I was grateful for, what I wanted to let go of and what I wanted to manifest. Sometimes I never even looked back at these lists, but making them always calmed me.
I see now that this was my visionary time, and without it I feel ungrounded, directionless and floaty. Today I dare you to make some lists of your own and see how it feels. It only takes a few minutes, but it is like finding yourself on a map.
You can’t get where you’re going if you don’t know where you are.