What a wonderful name for a sustainable enterprise – ‘Growing Insights‘… This is a venture run by Alison Clayton-Smith from Letchworth in Hertfordshire. Alison approached me a few weeks ago to propose we do a blog post swop as a way to build community through our respective businesses. Alison, who describes herself as a facilitator and writer in ecopsychology, mindfulness and self-development, kindly agreed for me to interview her and share her responses. I thought this would be a great way for us to gain a growing insight into her vocation and the ways in which Alison enjoys serving her local community:
How would you describe your work?
Sharing ideas and knowledge, encouraging reflection and creativity, gentle prodding, holding a mirror up, facilitating, training, wise counsel, not so wise counsel, creating community, compassion, encouraging people to meet each other as adults (as opposed to parent-child), encouraging mindfulness and slowness.
To what extent is your heart in your work?
Currently it varies depending on what I’m doing. I am in the process of refocusing what I do and so I’m in transition from my ‘traditional’ work to newer areas. Having said that, I rarely take on work which I don’t have some belief in, even if I scratch around a bit to find the heart element. Sometimes this might simply be about knowing that I have been able to help one person be a better manager. I am trying to tip the balance to have more work where my heart is fully in it.
What was it that prompted you to become self-employed?
Although I like people and am fascinated by human behaviour, I find I only have the energy to be with people if I have a lot of time on my own. I like a lot of thinking, getting into things in depth and going at a pace that suits me. All these are easier to do when you’re working from home as your own boss! So far overall it has provided what I hoped for.
How has it turned out so far for you?
I was also realistic that there would be challenges, like keeping myself motivated and getting a balance between doing too much/too little work. The hardest thing I think has been when I realized 2-3 years ago that I needed to slow down and that I wanted to shift to do something different. Redefining your business isn’t the same as looking at job adverts and it has been, and continues to be, a long process.
How balanced would you say your life is when you consider your personal and your working life?
At the moment, hand on heart, the balance is more towards the personal. This is owing to a combination of demanding 8 month old puppy and health! I expect the balance will shift more towards work, and in fact already is, as Bobby the puppy gets less demanding and I find I have more energy to work. However, I need to make sure I keep a good balance and pace myself, and this is something I’ve historically not been particularly adept at….
What are the 3 major challenges you’re facing in your working life at the moment?
1. Moving my focus into ecopsychology and mindfulness and all that entails in terms of creating new networks, learning, redefining how I communicate what I do, etc.
2. Finding clients – getting organizations, in particular, interested in number 1.
3. Balancing work with often limited energy/pain and the puppy constraints.
I’m finding the biggest thing that is helping me on number 1 and 2 is having a supportive community and mentors. For number 3, I haven’t found a good answer yet so I’m just keeping my fingers crossed Bobby will calm down!
The term sustainability is often linked to the idea of maintaining business as usual. What do you think of this idea?
What are the values that underpin your sustainable business?
Integrity, openness, community, compassion,
You can find out more about Alison and Growing Insights here.