It’s a big old step starting your own business. For me, the tipping point came when the thought of going for it had finally become less scary than the prospect of sticking with the known.
So here I am, a new business owner. So far so liberating….
However, the thing about doing your own ‘thing’ is it involves putting your money where your mouth is (or, in my case, putting my newly-acquired business overdraft where my mouth is…). Because with your own business you’re putting yourself out there saying ‘this is what I believe in’ and ‘this is how I think my way of doing things can make a difference’.
So how am I different?
The idea behind my business is very simple: it’s about helping people who are going through pain. It’s about giving support that is both emotional and practical.
It really stemmed from ideas that started rumbling around my head a number of years ago during my time as a family solicitor in the City. Increasingly, I’d started to feel that practising family law should be much more closely allied with ‘helping’ professions like counselling rather than being lumped in with other types of law.
You see, the thing about family lives is that they’re intimate, they’re personal and they’re emotional. And these things don’t fit so easily into the sorts of categories that the law demands. So we need a more nuanced and sensitive approach.
The way I practice mediation is that I ‘do’ feelings. Trying to separate feelings from the practical matters that are dealt with in mediation is futile. As the old saying goes ‘handle your feelings, or they will handle you’. Without dealing with your feelings, you can’t reach agreement in mediation.
I also believe that, if you’re working with clients who are going through pain, then the most important attribute you can bring to that work is your humanity, whether that’s in your official job title or not. Everything else flows from that.
With my mediation practice, that care and compassion is combined with the legal knowledge to help clients get things done.
And my therapeutic practice is infused with a problem solving approach and a focus on ‘what works’ that I owe, in large part, to my legal background and training.
This is a business but it’s also personal and it wouldn’t sit right with me if I didn’t apply the same principles to my own life that I apply to my practice. So I don’t ask of my clients what I do not expect of myself. That includes a willingness to look at myself and to take responsibility for my own behaviour. This is not easy. For me or anyone else. Frequently, we come to therapy and mediation angry and resentful at others. And no wonder. We’re hurting and sometimes we are right to be angry at others.
But the freedom comes when we can balance this with honestly looking at ourselves and seeing our own part in things.
Years of therapy and training and the consistent self-scrutiny that requires have shown me how important this is and that self-awareness is often the key to unlocking resentments and disputes.
So I practice what I preach. Or at least I try on a daily basis.
And as I go forward with my business, taking it day by day seems a good way to go.