2020 realization (inc discussion about aiming bigger)

For anything not related to psychology
Post Reply
CataliyaMin

2020 realization (inc discussion about aiming bigger)

Post by CataliyaMin » Wed Jan 06, 2021 5:27 am

What is your biggest realization from the year 2020? How would you manage it this year?

CynicMe
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Jun 15, 2020 11:40 pm

Re: 2020 realization

Post by CynicMe » Wed Jan 06, 2021 5:47 pm

1 - The importance of routine
2 - I have amazing tolerance and I am soooooo looking forward to living by myself again

User avatar
miriam
Site Admin
Posts: 7956
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2007 11:20 pm
Location: Bucks
Contact:

Re: 2020 realization

Post by miriam » Sun Jan 10, 2021 5:14 pm

1. To appreciate what I have got. A fantastic partner, a chance to steer my own business, a nice home with outside space, kind kids who ask great questions, and a loose network of supportive and inspiring people around me.
2. That I've become more political (in the broadest sense) over time, and I have less tolerance for selfish and dishonest people.
3. That I can, and should, aim bigger!
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com

lingua_franca
Posts: 948
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:29 pm

Re: 2020 realization

Post by lingua_franca » Sun Jan 10, 2021 8:00 pm

miriam wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 5:14 pm
2. That I've become more political (in the broadest sense) over time, and I have less tolerance for selfish and dishonest people.
3. That I can, and should, aim bigger!
These two have been big realisations for me over the past year as well, especially the last one.
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

User avatar
Spatch
Posts: 1440
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2007 4:18 pm
Location: The other side of paradise
Contact:

Re: 2020 realization

Post by Spatch » Mon Jan 11, 2021 12:44 am

3. That I can, and should, aim bigger!
I am curious about what aiming bigger would look like for you. More impact? More resources? More income? Larger size of business?

I have no doubt about your abilities to achieve this, but I would also be interested in what prompted that insight? I think I also struggle with the question of am I thinking too small or too big at a given time. Particuarly relevant for me as I am finding I am far more involved in project work rather than NHS clinical work, so it's helpful to reflect upon what to pay attention to.

User avatar
miriam
Site Admin
Posts: 7956
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2007 11:20 pm
Location: Bucks
Contact:

Re: 2020 realization

Post by miriam » Wed Jan 13, 2021 3:15 am

TLDR: Be very focused. Seek out the right people to support you. Try to work out the next couple of steps and focus on that, and as you make progress the vision will get bigger.

Long version:

I think, for me, once I was clear I was leaving the NHS (which wasn't even on the horizon until 2008, and only crystalised after my maternity leave, when my employing NHS trust treated me badly, and eventually gave me a redundancy payoff) I initially thought I'd make a little business to do something CAMHS-like, perhaps combined with my court expert witness work. However, as I tried various things out I had a few "accidental" successes, and that was the start of aiming bigger - because I achieved more than I expected to.

My book was expected to sell 600 copies, but went on to sell over 8000, and continues to sell through word-of-mouth recommendations at the same pace as when it was released. Off the back of the book and the policy work I was involved in, I ended up doing keynotes at conferences and being paid to train various groups, which raised my profile. Then the success of a tiny project that I was doing one day per month (for £800) led me to become clinical director of a massive care provider (turnover >£100M) for 2 years and lead a transformation project to embed a psychology pathway I had designed, recruit a psychology service and train care 1000 staff. Alongside this, a little questionnaire I had developed (BERRI) became the foundation for an online tool set that providers subscribe to, which is now used in 245 children's homes, plus secure units, fostering and therapeutic services, is specified in commissioning contracts and has saved millions of pounds for local authorities. Likewise the research validation has been very positive, and it is starting to generate new insights about the needs of this population. And then, over the last 18 months, I secured £300k in grant funding to expand what I was doing with BERRI in various ways. So we now have a goal to get whole local authorities using the tools with every child in their care - with many local authorities expressing the desire to join the project - and we are working on versions of the tools for parents/carers and schools, with plans to look at using data analytics to improve the individualisation of our reports, developing tools for commissioners and considering international applicability. Did I expect 5 years ago that I'd be at this point? No more than I expected a pandemic!

I'm not going to pretend that any of this happened effortlessly. Books take a lot of effort to write, for little immediate reward. Policy documents are thankless things, and took a lot of unpaid time. I felt out of my comfort zone presenting to MPs, and speaking at an interest group at the House of Lords, and I was really nervous giving evidence to the select committee. It hasn't been easy financially either. My business has only paid me as much as my NHS salary in 3 of the 9 years since I have left. And, like this forum, I invested a huge amount of time and my own funds over 15 years on developing BERRI to get to a point it was commercially viable. I've worked harder than I knew I could, and for more hours than almost anyone else I know. There have been times that I've lost money or had big setbacks, and I've had a very steep learning curve about business. The grants were highly competitive (the initial £50k was 20:1 against us, the more recent £220k we had to be in the top 15-20 proposals out of 1800) and there were other applications that were not successful. Plus, there are so many things I haven't done yet! Despite sitting on a dragon hoard of data, I've failed in my desire to publish findings over the last few years, and I feel guilty not to have shared the findings I desperately want to disseminate that could impact on the services and the lives of vulnerable children.

But when I look at where I am now - approaching the 10th anniversary of setting up my company, with a fantastic team of staff and advisors, having fought the tide of a recession to be amongst the 40% of businesses that survive more than 3 years, and having not only staying in business through the covid-19 pandemic but having doubled BERRI subscriptions and related revenue during 2020 despite it, and having been given over a quarter of a million pounds in government funding - I genuinely couldn't have imagined getting here, let alone trying to envisage where my next steps might take us.

Duncan Law was so right when he talked about how it feels like following your nose through a scribble of a career path, and then looking back and telling the story as a straight line, as if it was a journey taken with intent towards a particular destination. Yet here I am, planning how we deliver new contracts, digitise our training, develop new versions of BERRI and undertake both research and economic/impact evaluations. I'm on the cusp of taking on what might end up being 7 new members of staff in the next 3 months to deliver work in new geographic localities. And now I'm looking at how we secure further investment to deliver more ambitious plans for the future. Seeing the prospective impact that my company and my tools and my psychological insights could have from that angle is a bit mindblowing, particularly trying to reconcile that with my sense of myself as a pretty ordinary person (and a pretty ordinary CP), who is just trying to do their bit to improve people's psychological wellbeing.

So it is a tricky thing to balance. I sometimes have fantasies that we could end up with BERRI being used by every local authority, and change how placements and services are contracted in the UK, but I put them in the same category as the daydream in which I could write a best-selling novel, or found a new online company that becomes the next unicorn like AirBnB. I try to not horizon gaze too much and stick with what is one or two steps ahead, but I also have to prioritise goals and then work backwards to the actions we need to take now to achieve them. And, of course, what is two steps ahead now is stuff that was the stuff of unrealistic daydreams a couple of years ago.

So yeah, more impact is the key goal - reaching larger numbers of vulnerable children and making their lives, and those of their caregivers, measurably better - but that requires more resources and a bigger team to support larger numbers of BERRI users and to deliver more psychological services. More income isn't a goal in and of itself* but higher turnover and profit lets me invest in the research and impact evaluation, and in scoping the wider opportunities. I quite like working with a small team that I know and trust, rather than the logistics of a bigger organisation, so larger size of business isn't a goal - and is something I will probably struggle with because I'm a bit of a control freak about ensuring everything we do we do really well - but again is a likely side-effect of success in achieving other goals.

In terms of aiming higher (and in turn achieving more) I'd say investing in personal coaching and mentoring has really helped. I remember conversations about very concrete things that made huge impact - eg to ensure I include my own time when costing things, and (ahead of some pay negotiations) my rates should be determined by the value I provide to the organisation paying me, and not by my sense of NHS pay scales or what I am worth compared to other people's salaries). I also remember a key chicken and egg conversation that showed me I needed to make a leap of faith that if I put my energy into a new direction it would get results (rather than wishfully waiting for the results as a sign I should put my energy in, like hoping I'd feel motivated to go to the gym, when the motivation actually arrives after the action). Networking with other social entrepreneurs has also been inspiring - including the realisation that they look at me like I look at them (and more recently, seeing where I started and how much I have learned, by comparison with people just starting out). My business mentor has been great at helping keep me from avoiding the financial side of things, and giving me structure on the business side. Impact Hub Kings Cross has been a very supportive community with great workshops**, and I've done some brilliant courses - the best being a Barclays sponsored course at Cambridge Judge Business School that gave me a taster of the insight and language of their executive MBA without the £70k price tag. Greg McKeown's articles on Essentialism in Harvard Business Review were really helpful in thinking about focusing on my point of greatest impact, whilst 80,000 hours have some great blogs to help you think about where you can make the most impact with a career. Oh and Devi Clark is lovely, and her e-book was the best use of £3.25 ever.

The other key thing for me has been working out my own values and staying true to them. I have a metaphorical scale from a masochistic helper who burns themselves out by doing everything for everyone else for free, to a porsche-driving arsehole who only cares about maximising their own wealth. I want to find myself somewhere in the lower middle part of that scale. So if I meet a new accountant and they start talking about tax minimisation strategies, or I interview a staff member who talks about high pressure sales strategies, I can think "that isn't the direction I want to be pulled". And if I start getting ahead of myself, I can think that grandiose guy isn't who I'd want to be like, and rein it back in. Likewise if I feel pressured to do things that are not in my core remit, or to help others out, I try to weigh up the pros and cons in a way that acknowledges that me having less time or feeling more burnt out also has negative impact on our ability to achieve our core goals. And I try to ensure I'm not too emotionally exhausted to feel excited about what we can achieve, or so self-critical about things I haven't done (like publishing papers) that I don't recognise my areas of expertise, as a lack of self-belief will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So that's loads more than I intended to say, or more than you probably wanted to read. But hopefully it gives you some food for thought.

*my end goal is a b-corp with a profit pledge feeding a charitable foundation that can provide psychological services to vulnerable children and families where there is no funding available (though I'd like to earn a salary equivalent to a head of service in the NHS again, as it would help me to pay back the mortgage I've frozen whilst investing in the business)

** they have an online membership rate at the moment that is very good value, as they have forums and regular workshops and talks, so you can talk to other social entrepreneurs who have become "my tribe". I'm doing a talk there next month about how to secure grant income.
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com

User avatar
Spatch
Posts: 1440
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2007 4:18 pm
Location: The other side of paradise
Contact:

Re: 2020 realization (inc discussion about aiming bigger)

Post by Spatch » Fri Jan 15, 2021 11:53 am

That is really helpful Miriam and has given me a lot to think about. Thanks for writing all of that.

There are a lot of parallels with where I am at the moment, and one of the things I have noticed is that there is a well trodden path if you stay in the traditional NHS roles going from Band 7 upwards, or setting up as a private therapist, but very little for mavericks or people who do things differently. It's good to see accounts of people who are doing something niche as it is otherwise quite isolating.

It's also useful to think about what success is, and oddly it becomes harder the further along you go. At the start it is 'getting a good grade at undergrad' or 'getting onto a DClinPsy', which are tough but at least concrete and knowable. For me it feels even harder now walking off the map than it ever was jumping through the hoops that everyone knows. Maybe that's just me.
Shameless plug alert:

Irrelevant Experience: The Secret Diary of an Assistant Psychologist is available at Amazon
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Irrelevant-Expe ... 00EQFE5JW/

User avatar
miriam
Site Admin
Posts: 7956
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2007 11:20 pm
Location: Bucks
Contact:

Re: 2020 realization (inc discussion about aiming bigger)

Post by miriam » Mon Jan 25, 2021 3:13 am

It is definitely the case that going "off map" is harder - by definition there isn't a defined route or any markers to tell you if you are making progress or even aiming in the right direction. However, I love the adventure, freedom and autonomy that I gain in trade-off, and I don't miss the bureaucratic frustrations of big organisations at all! I can choose what work we do, how much time I spend doing it, who I work with, where we are based, what our culture is like, what I spend money on*. Whilst I do miss the camaraderie of an MDT of peers, I've not missed the NHS processes or bases at all! In fact, each time I interact with a university or NHS trust I am reminded quite how much the processes (eg for recruitment, or getting written sign-off on things that have been agreed verbally) get in the way of the bits I enjoy.

The challenge is that I always have a massive to-do list, and it is hard to prioritise amongst many different types of tasks** and learning the business and finance stuff enough to keep on top of the essentials of running the business, let alone think about scaling up or seeking external investment, has been a steep learning curve. But if I did want to earn more, or to do something different, that would be possible and only dependent on me. I wouldn't need anyone's permission, or to wait for the slow wheels of organisational change, and I'd not be fighting against the pressures of a waiting list***, risk-averse managers who don't really understand my perspective, or established ways of doing things. And if/when it was successful it would be my success.

*With my own business I can rent an office with free parking and pretty views, give everyone their own desk/storage/computer, provide the tea and coffee and an occasional team lunch. I can delegate the tasks I don't enjoy, and take on the tasks I find most satisfying. I can hire the staff I need, reward/promote those who excel and give notice to those that don't fulfil their remit. I can pay for CPD, books and materials that allow those people to do their job better - making same or next day decisions, without more paperwork than an email. I can have an admin post that supports me, rather than having to do my own reports, timesheets, appointments, invoicing and respond to all the phone calls and emails myself. I can buy myself a nice light MacBook Pro so I'm not lugging around some 5kg NHS laptop that will irritate my injured shoulder, and the iPhone/Airpods/Watch that will ease navigation and mean I can take calls in the car, not struggle with some base model handset that isn't even set up to show my email properly. When covid came, I could consult with the team about their preferences and decide we were working from home from 16th March, and could agree flexible working plans with each person, minimising face-to-face contact and risk assessing each direct client contact with them to check they were comfortable to go ahead.

**Do I record that training session? do I prepare for that court hearing? do I write that job advert? do I speak to the research collaborator and find that data file? do I provide a supervision session for the AP? do I speak to the sales guy? do I prepare my talk for that conference? do I do that income generating thing to ease our cashflow? do I work on my second book? do I post that update on linkedin? do I phone the local authority collaborator we need to firm up their commitment to the joint project we are launching? do I do that revision to the report system? do I read and comment on that draft report by the 8A CP? do I talk to the accountant about the tax returns and VAT position? do I speak to my business coach about the investment options? do I write that grant application? More importantly, how do I fit all of these things into one working week, around the other things in my calendar, so that I don't drop any of these plates?

***in the NHS the waiting list is a measure of failure to keep up with demand, in private practice it can be seen as a mark of success - that you are under demand and people are prepared to wait to see you rather than going elsewhere
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest