Where do you fall on the Spectrum of Ambiguity?
In a past life, I helped develop and teach a consulting QuickStart class at Avanade (which is a joint venture between Microsoft and Accenture) where, over a 6-year period, we taught the class to more than 8,000 people. One of the core concepts we discussed in the class was about Ambiguity and the Spectrum of Ambiguity.
On one end of this spectrum there are people who are just not okay with ambiguity. These are people who need to have a strong sense of what is going to happen next to feel at ease in the world. On the other end of the spectrum are people who enjoy not knowing what’s on the horizon. Ambiguity is exciting to them and they love it.
Everyone is somewhere along that scale. What’s challenging is that most people are somewhere in the middle, including a lot of entrepreneurs.
Where you fall on the Spectrum of Ambiguity will inform how well you deal with the “ebb and flow of business.” And to be honest, most of my clients hate it.
To them, the ebb and flow of business can feel like feast or famine. It scares them and gets them into a place of fear and scarcity, yet they still don’t shift their approach to smooth out those peaks and valleys. The way to prevent the huge ebbs and flows – or at least smooth them out – is to be consistently working on the business.
Think of it like this: when most people experience an ebb in business, they get to work! They network, reach out to previous clients and work their tails off until they have a big influx of work. Then, they sit back on their haunches (“phew – that was exhausting but now I’ve got a very full plate”), until – “Uh-oh! – all my clients are about to complete!” Once again, they panic and the cycle starts all over again.
These huge ebbs and flows can be prevented if you consistently spend 20% of your time on ongoing business development activities like expanding and engaging your network, getting out there and speaking, and keeping those irons in the fire. 20% is one full day a week if you work full-time. That may sound like a lot, but it will smooth out the ride and create more consistency of clients and revenue. Moreover, it will allow you to be more discerning and take on clients or projects you really want (vs. ones you think you “should” take). Trust me, it will make the ride much, much more enjoyable!
Tara Butler Floch