Working On Versus Working In

Oct 22


Tony Calabrese

Tony Calabrese

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Working on versus working in can be a distinction made in running a business, it is also a distinction that one can make in almost any aspect of their life and the issues regarding your life. 


Many coaches when they start their practices are new business owners.  We not only learn coaching skills,Working On Versus Working In Articles but we also quickly learn the realities of being in business for oneself.  In setting up a business we find there are a lot of things to do.  There is the actually setting up the business as an entity in itself.  There is a marketing aspect to being in business.  Obviously there is the working with clients (hopefully).  Often to promote ourselves we blog as I do, present workshops, give talks, etc.  Many coaches also set up their own websites.  Before we know it, we are heavily “working in our businesses.”

However, one of the messages we quickly hear from those who have been entrepreneurs for a long period of time is that you not only have to work in your business, but also “work on your business.”   Working on the business is the planning that goes into how you choose to operate the business.  What type of product offerings may we choose to have?  What market of clients will we look to serve?  How will we choose to present your product offerings?  For coaches, that may be in a one on one session, to groups or even providing offerings online.  Once up and running with our business there are times we need to step back and assess how things are going.  What changes may we want to make to the particulars of how we conduct our business?

While “working on” versus “working in” can be a distinction made in running a business, it is also a distinction that one can make in almost any aspect of their life. In working with job searchers, in the guidance I provide them is a significant amount of time to first do assessment of themselves and the types of positions they seek to pursue, before blindly applying for job openings in every conceivable manner.  When I work with clients going through life transition issues, we’ll talk of what the client is doing now in their life, how well that approach may be serving them and explore possible other ways to address the occurrences that come up in their every day life.

One of the common complaints voiced when one speaks to a harried individual about working on versus working in is that I just don’t have the time to do that.  “If I don’t spend my time addressing the issues that keep coming up in my life, they’ll never get done.” However, that’s one of the major points of working on versus working in.  Working on may allow you to find the root cause of what is causing you to always have to address emergencies.  It may provide you an entirely new thought pattern to do something you do regularly.  You may find opportunities that you did not even realize were present at your finger tips.

While “working on versus working in,” should ideally be an ongoing mindset, all of us get wrapped up in executing the every day (even me).  However, I am in the process of embarking on just a stage for my coaching business.  Initially I started exclusively with life coach offerings.  I then about 18 months into my business focused more on job search specific offerings.  However, interesting things have evolved as I have moved through 2012.  I’m finding that while my career coaching clients benefit from my job search specific tools, they also face life coaching issues that require them to keep their focus positive as they move through their search.  A number of clients have begun working with me on life coaching issues that has again become a significant part of my practice throughout these past few months.  I myself have realized my two unique backgrounds help support a population of individuals that benefit from both my coaching skill sets.  As such, I want to determine how I can best serve that population with my offerings as I move forward.

Working on versus working in is something that constantly challenges us for time in our life.  However, when the challenges reach the point that the “working in” so dominates one that they have little sense of what they are doing than just reacting to situations, then a little bell needs to go off that indicates it is time to take a step back and think things through.  While you may feel you don’t have the time to consider “working on” your life, no matter which aspect of it overwhelms you, to not take the time to do so ultimately means you’ll never be able to best serve yourself and those whom you serve.

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