It all started, more than 20 years ago in the south of France. I was sharing a house with four friends for a week of sun and lazy days shopping in the village markets. Even though it was summer, the weather was horrible; cold and rainy every day just like our winters back in San Francisco.
We spent more time indoors and in the markets and experienced far more togetherness than any of us planned. If it were not for our one Jen, we would have had our worst vacation ever.
Each night at dinner Jen would refocus our disappointment with a question that took on a wonderful and interesting adventure in defiance of the pouring rain outside.
One night her question turned to, "Where do you see yourself in 10 years?"
Wow, what a time-relevant question. I had no real sense of what my next month was going to hold, let alone the next year, so thinking out 10 years was ridiculous.
I had just left the corporate world to develop my skills as a business consultant working for a boutique consulting firm located smack in the middle of the "hot bed of the nascent" technology boom (South Park in San Francisco).
Typically of me, I had been way too engaged in how my friends were responding to have given constructive thought to my answer. When Jen turned to me, I just let my heart speak: “I’m going to be consulting for my friends on their businesses so that they are more successful.” It just rolled out. I heard myself say it. I saw my friend’s faces smiling, all nodding in agreement. Yep, that was "it" they were all saying. Yep, that is it I responded back.
Sometimes the best ideas are already within us; given voice only when expertly coaxed out into the open. Expressing your dreams takes courage. I have also found over the last 20+ years of my consulting business; it takes confidence, clarity of thought, trust, and resilience to not only express your dreams but to engage others in making them come true. This is especially true in the business context.
Over the years, friends in businesses have asked for my help, and I consult with them. However, where I have really seen the manifestation of my vision is that my clients, strangers to me when we began an engagement, have become dear friends. This transformation is as natural as any of my other close friendships. It starts with the way I carefully listen to their aspirations for growth and future success of their business. I strengthen our connection when I give my strategic mind freely in service to their challenges without judgment or prescribed outcomes. We bond when we create open and productive group settings where others can build on their dreams to make them a reality. They feel supported and encouraged and the result is I build another wonderful friendship.
My business has grown organically, completely from those wonderful relationships and the trust, commitment and referrals that only come from true friends.
I often think about how that one question shaped the right vision for me. It continues to inspire and motivate me all these years later.