I've talked with several people and organizations this quarter who are stressing about pipelines, culture, and organizational results. These three things go together. They all effect each other. And they're a big opportunity to reboot, remember, and revise.
In times of stress it's more essential than ever to remember the why, the who, and the intentions behind it all. It's also when it's most essential to take excellent care of ourselves. We can't do our best work, or bring in our best business, or have our best impact when we're "in scarcity," stressed, and scared.
Here's what generally happens... The pipeline gets low, people get stressed and scared, everyone starts focusing on how to build the pipeline back up, then they start coming up with creative ways to reinvent the wheel. Lots of ways. Lots of noise. Lots of distraction. Then, if they're really nervous, people start focusing on making sure they're looking good, showing value, and defending their spot in the organization. It's very possible, in this dynamic, that the focus becomes on anything but pipeline or the work they originally set out to do. And the energy associated with it (contracted and often frantic) does anything but serve the clients they serve (or the culture). This is what I call the "scarcity spiral" -- it's painful, sticky, and it goes nowhere great.
This spiral is totally human. It's also part of organizational change, up-leveling offers and value, navigating new structures, bringing in new players, and at its most basic, it's simply part of being a dynamic business that ebbs and flows and has highs and lows. The spiral will go long and deep, IF we let it. It can become a gift if we catch it, learn from it, and partner with it.
To me, one of the greatest gifts of hitting this place is that if we use it for good, it can be a powerful invitation and reminder to come back to ourselves (our intentions, our energy, and our presence), our organizations, and what we're truly devoted to. It can also be an invitation to see where we may have gotten off path in the process of life and business as usual and what new processes, frameworks, or systems can be put in place to support us in focusing on our collective magic and impact.
There are two options when you hit the "scarcity spiral":
Option 1: Contract more, buckle down, try to reinvent wheels, spin out on them, get lost in the story of why it's impossible and hard, blame, capitulate, bury your head in the sand, try to look good, panic... (You can do any and all of these individually or as a team.)
Option 2: Breathe. Expand. Get present to the now (as dire as it may feel or be). Find your space. Create more space. And again, get present to the now. Get quiet. Shhhh. What's here?
- What you are devoted to?
- What are you (and your organization) committed to?
- Why do you do the work you do?
- What is the impact you want to have on your clients and the people you serve?
- What's important about it?
- How can you be most useful now?
This revisiting, if done genuinely, will bring you new wisdom.
- How might we serve better?
- What might we tweak to make our offering more helpful?
- What needs to shift?
- What frameworks can we put in place to support ourselves?
- Where have we overcomplicated our organization, systems, and processes?
- Where's the noise? And how are we contributing to it?
Consider the possibility that this is just a moment in time of "quiet" in your business to give you space to focus on your organizational changes, re-norming your team(s), up-leveling your services, or to think BIGGER. (Maybe you need to think about impact in different ways?) Of course, you can do any and all of these individually or as a team.
Option 1 will get you more contraction and more stress, and ultimately stuck and struggling. It's also not likely to get you out of the cycle. (And may even suck others into the cycle with you.) After all, if you're coming from the energetic frequency of stress and scarcity (which is contagious), your current and prospective clients will sense it (as will your employees), and further down the spiral you go. Also, in a state of stress and scarcity, there's no way you have your best wisdom, energy, and thinking -- so you likely won't have access to stellar thinking and results.
So... Option 2, right?
It's likely your best bet. It may feel hard. And it also maybe your lifeline out. Shift your focus. Back to service. Breathe. See what's here. Set your intention. And lead. (Remember, you're contagious, so whatever you choose will set the tone for those you lead.)
Does this mean you Pollyanna your way out of this? Heck, no. Does this mean you put on a happy face and pretend all is great and the pipeline (or whatever the issue is) is "just dandy and we're gonna get through this, kids!"? Um. No. Does this mean you fake it? NO. None of this is about pretending the fear doesn't exist or pretending to be something you're not. It means noticing it, honoring it, getting the support you need to process it, partnering with it, and then, deciding what to do with it productively.
What your magic combination of actions and ways of being in "option 2" are, I don't know. That's for you to explore. I do find that breath is the first place to go. Getting back into your own space (and remembering you have that space in the first place) is the second. And reconnecting with your true intention and commitment is a solid third. From there, you'll know better what to do and what you need.
May this post support you in whatever way is most meaningful today whether you're navigating pipelines, relationships, well-being, a personal problem, or anything you wish to shift.