‘Don’t just do something. Stand there.’

By Carolyn Campbell, MA, CPPC

As the story goes, Spencer Tracy said this to Katharine Hepburn when he was directing her in a movie. I absolutely love this quote. It’s kind of a brain teaser at first and then it hits you—he’s saying, stop running around the stage doing stuff. Instead, stake a claim for you and your purpose. It’s far more riveting and compelling for the audience.   

As a coach, I find this highly relevant for so many businesses as well. What I witness far too often is people scurrying from network group to coffee meetup, from Facebook to LinkedIn, trying to tell as many people as they can about their business. Hoping that if they tell enough people, if they offer enough free programs, people will flock to their door. For some, this may be true. But far too often it’s more about spinning your wheels and talking to the wrong people.

My version:
‘Stop running around hoping someone will find you. Stand there. On purpose.’

The short version:
Stop
Ground yourself
Clarify what you want to be doing
Name who you want to be doing it with
Know why they will want you
See where you want to go
Then move there
On purpose

The detailed version:

When I first started my coaching practice almost 15 years ago, I was working with a coach who came from the ‘run-around’ school. I’ll never forget him ‘calling me out’—in coaching terms that means criticizing me for not ‘doing’ enough. I realized in that moment that he didn’t get what manifesting really means. In the end, he never did. He ended up leaving coaching a year later, unable to sustain the run-around and unseasoned in the art of manifesting. I recently looked up ‘manifest’ in Webster’s Dictionary. One of the definitions is: To become apparent through the appearance of symptoms. The art of manifesting in business is simply that, to make business become apparent. Get ready. When you hear others say, ‘Wow, how do you do it? You make it look like magic,’ smile and realize that you simply made what was already there become explicitly apparent.  

Manifesting in business involves four things:

Step one: Take time to be really, really clear on the reason your business exists. Not just to get business, but the value it has in altering the lives of the people and communities you serve. By taking time to know the absolute import of your work you begin to become a magnet. 

Step two: Watch. Just that. Watch. Listen. Read. I would go out into the world to different events that intrigued me. I would read about different organizations that interested me. I would search for them on the Internet. (This was long before Facebook. I didn’t have the luxury of just watching them on Facebook. Now it’s one of my favorite things to do.) By first knowing what I offered, and then watching what was going on in the world, it became far easier for me to clearly identify what I might offer and how I might do so.

Step three: Name what people need. Think to yourself, ‘Wow. This is what these people, who I really like, need.’ I remember having gone to a conference for small business owners, and noticing that the workshops were all about business planning, marketing and selling. Important stuff, for sure. But, what was missing was a workshop on developing a relational approach to doing business. I immediately thought, this is something that small business owners and leaders could use. I realized I would really enjoy presenting this type of workshop and that entrepreneurs with a mission were my ideal client base. (There have been a number of other situations very similar to this. By going to events, because they interest me, I become familiar with the organization offering them, and also gain greater clarity on my value to them.)

Similarly, going to events has also provided me an opportunity to realize when they are NOT my ideal client or organization. Great information to know before going too far down a track of engagement.

Step four: Take action. The next week I contacted the promoters of the event. I thanked them for all the information they provided and then shared my interest in offering a new program. They, of course, wanted some background information on me so that they could determine my value to them. Since I had spent a significant time taking stock of my value for organizations just like them, I was ready to provide them with the materials they asked for, as well as an outline of what I might provide.

Honestly, it’s almost too easy. 

So, why the challenge for so many business owners?

As one of my clients so aptly said, ‘That means we have to plan ahead more and go places that matter.’

And that, my friends, takes more time and thought then dashing around like bunnies. And we all love bunnies. They just aren’t the best at building their leadership.