About a year ago I became my own boss and I love it. It was time to refresh my business plan and looking ahead inevitably involves some looking back. Aside from the obvious measure of revenue, it’s tricky conducting a performance review when you’re working solo.
I’ve got a respectable list of achievements from the projects and collaborations I’ve worked on over the past year or so. I’ve helped citizens step up to represent their communities and provide thoughtful and constructive advice to large organisations about water and road improvements. I’ve elicited practical tips from women that have helped their peers build their brand, find new clients or implement a social media strategy. I’ve guided a group of passionate people to agree the purpose for their collaboration. I’ve helped technical experts find the words to convey their complex ideas to everyday people. I’ve helped people from diverse jobs and sectors to improve their writing and tell their story with tailored workshops and 1:1 coaching. And I’ve collaborated with a great group of volunteers to deliver an annual community-based professional development event to nourish facilitators in Victoria.
The variety has been stimulating. I’ve worked with groups across regional centres, in Melbourne’s west and in its growth corridors. I’ve worked on issues that I care about – health and wellbeing, education pathways for young people, giving voice to the disenfranchised, active cities, road safety and improving the communication of complex scientific evidence.
But it’s the comments I remember.
“I thought this would be another boring business meeting. But it’s been so stimulating. It’s made me want to do more in my community.”
“How great it is to be able to get together to share, listen, think, celebrate. It was a real privilege to be with people who care.”
“Can we do more of this? Just talking and finding out things from each other.”
“Attending this session helped reminded me why I became involved in the first place”
“One of the most enjoyable and interesting experiences I’ve had since retiring.”
“It was so important to spend the time together today. It’s the first time we’ve got together as a group!”
“I can recommend this kind of process to other young people. It is important to know about this stuff, and it’s about our future.”
“I have learned so much about water. So important and we just take it for granted.”
“I didn’t agree with some people’s ideas but we worked it out together. And that’s a good feeling.”
“I am really going to miss being with everyone. So good getting to know people from different places.”
These comments can’t act as benchmarks that can be measured as I start my second year as a consultant. But how they make me feel is a litmus test for my performance. It’s vital that I can show the positive impact I’ve had on a project, activity or initiative. But you can’t beat the feeling of having a positive impact, no matter how small, on a person.