Finding Your Voice in The Unexpected

On a recent trip to Chicago I had a full 5 days ahead with lecturing, teaching a Reflexology workshop to health professionals, a scheduled business meeting and an extra day planned to 'do Chicago'. I was in for a surprise visit that altered my plans.

I flew in the evening before the event and woke up next morning excited about the days ahead. I wasn't expecting the surprise visitor in bed with me--laryngitis!

The longer we find ourselves out there in service, we learn to be prepared for the unexpected. But lest we get complacent, new lessons do come along. I just thought I'd experienced it all. This was a first. I pulled the lecture off that morning at a painful whisper. My voice went downhill from there. Over the next four days without my voice, I learned the meaning of quickly turning lemons into lemonade. In the process, I gained some lessons that fit nicely into an article on business with a extra reminder to enjoy the lemonade.
It was bittersweet to see old friends and not be able to talk, disappointing to be unable to be full-on at the meeting and awkward to lead a workshop in pain with a whisper. By the final day, I was worn out. The extra day I had planned for seeing Chicago was spent resting at the hotel and avoiding the windy city. In spite of it all, the weekend was a gift. I received much caring, healing touch and tips for my voice, which chose to go on it's own vacation.

A popular coaching topic for me is about having a plan and systems in place for all business tasks and projects. Without systems, a downward spiral can occur mentally and emotionally when you are hit with the unexpected. How does a teacher/coach/speaker plan for an unexpected loss of voice? Not just a 20-minute gig but for several days? Well, you guessed it - first I went down the spiral.

I felt the initial frustration, then the struggle. Unable to do my job, I pushed and tried to speak in spite of the pain. Then the fear came - what to do? I had no backup plan. Topped with the pain, it all seemed worse than it was. Without my voice, I had to call on resources I hadn't prepared. I was pushing and not flowing with a system in place for others to be involved. I had to quickly delegate, wrote lots of notes and had no choice but to deliver less than I had planned.

We can set ourselves up for success or we can neglect to have plans in place and may experience to some degree the struggle, frustration, fear and often pain. It took me losing my voice to gain a new perspective about planning, about being empowered and discovering what's important. The sweetest reminder was the joy of having the support of others.

You may be a solo-practitioner, the lone educator who does it all, the CEO/admin for your one-man office or a mom with kids who is running your own business. Often the hardest thing for a small business-preneur is to recognize that you need help. . . and to have others on 'your team' to help you and step in when the unexpected happens.

Five tips for planning ahead (using the acronym I.D.E.A.S.) To empower creative helping-preneurs, teachers, coaches, speakers and all in service:

1. Invite the village to participate beforehand. Create projects & events with the village in mind (those you are serving) and get them involved. It takes teamwork and support to do great things. This can apply to your peers, your students or your clients.
2. Delegate: Always be prepared to let others 'handle it', even if its not in Plan A. Allow others to get the joy of serving, to add their input and talents. Give direction, then get out of the way - they can handle it. (I was forced to delegate but wasn't prepared so I quickly made several lists of announcements and tasks that needed to be taken care of, asked others to help and allowed them to contribute. It was a win/win.)
3. Expect the unexpected - SHIFT occurs! Keep your humor, making others feel at ease until the 'crisis' settles. Meanwhile, enjoy the lemonade! It's great for laryngitis I learned.
4. Accept that you can't do everything. Be the expert you are, do what you do best and hire or engage others to do what they do best. A great example in your business - hire a pro to create a website that establishes your credibility instead of a do-it-yourself job.
5. Systems in place will allow someone else to step in, take directions and get the job done, from the small tasks to major decisions. Write down step-by-step, easy to follow guides and policies. Planning a class, an event, a lecture? Put a plan B system in place.

My enhanced system for teaching/speaking events now includes more helpers (preplanned and prepped). My call to action for those who love to be part of a team is to volunteer to use your gifts of service at events and be part of the reason for it's success. You never know how much the leader, organizer, speaker may need your help and appreciate the offer.

Often we may need to lose something valuable to appreciate it. Losing my voice was a wake-up call that resulted in some rich lessons, blessings and reflection. Looking back, I am grateful for the experience but as with many lessons learned, I'm not keen on repeating it.

Author's Bio: 

Linda Chollar, Business Success Coach offers programs for the small business entrepreneurs in the healing arts, coaching, consultants, touch therapists, healthcare providers. Are you empowered with a plan and systems for your business? A personal coach/mentor who has been there, done that can show the way to transformation. Contact Linda for a free Discovery Session to find out how to set up the basic systems for your practice to run smoothly or advanced systems to kick your biz into gear.