Change Catalyst with Shanna Mann: Strategy & Support for Sane Self-Employment

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Structures. You need ’em.

One of the really interesting things about my tribe is the myriad ways they’ve come to business ownership. Actually, you could say that the unique thing about us all is that we broke out of the pattern society provided for us and started our own businesses instead.

I don’t think people fully realize how anomolous the mid-20th-century was– even though from our perspective it seems to have been the norm.

A Brief History Lesson

Look at the context: After WWII, a ramped-up post-industrial economy, stimulated from the war effort, folded the returning troops into factories and businesses and the modern consumer culture as we knew it was born.

The G.I. Act sent millions of kids to college who otherwise would never have had the resources to do so, and they easily found life-long jobs in the powerhouse American economy. Thus, a new life template was born: Go to college, get good grades, parlay that into a steady job, work hard, get married, buy a house, retire. There are some variations on that template, but that’s pretty much it, and it’s been that way for three generations now.

Interestingly, most Millennials (30 and younger) have been in structured environments our entire lives: structured school, structured recreation, structured jobs. We’ve been trained to dot our Is and cross our Ts, and we’ve got the gold stars to prove it.

The only problem? The structure is falling apart.

It USED to be true: perform A to achieve B. That’s no longer a certainty— hell, it barely counts as a probability. But since it was true for our parents and true for our grandparents, it feels *less* risky to stick with what worked in the past (hoping you’ll be one of the few that it still works for) than to try something totally new and unproven.

We business owners are the ones who took the risk. We blew a raspberry to the formal template we were supposed to duplicate, and we did our own thing. Woohoo! Look at us, we iconoclasts!
But breaking the mold often creates a backlash– it’s a psychology thing. You see, in order to create the intestinal fortitude to ‘stick it to the man’ we had to psych ourselves up by disparaging the external markers of the template we sought to free ourselves from– hence the emphasis on travel, of being ‘free from bosses’ and most importantly, of all the structures and trappings of large organizations.

Imagine a little Shanna, picking at a balanced meal and wishing for greasy pizza…

Let me give you a little example. Growing up, my mom fed us a very healthy diet. No convenience foods. No ‘kiddy’ food. Just real food like your great-great-grandmother would recognize. Naturally, we did not appreciate that very much, and the first summer I moved out, I bought myself Cocoa Pebbles cereal for breakfast.

It was like mainlining cotton candy. In three days, I could barely look at it.

I finished the box and I never touched sugary cereal again.
While new business owners start off by appreciating that they can grocery shop on a Tuesday morning and do laundry whenever, after a while the lack of structure start to cause problems.

  • Lack of preparedness
  • Lack of planning
  • Lack of boundaries
  • Lack of clarity

Well, shit. It turns out structure’s not the fascist conspiracy we thought.

In neurological terms, structure solves a very important problem: It shows us how the information is *shaped*. In this way, we are able to see where the holes are in our knowledge. This is why instead of teaching your the alphabet, you learn the alphabet SONG. It’s why the periodic table was such an important break through. It’s why instead of building a desk out of components from Home Depot, you go to IKEA and buy a kit.

Every step of the way, structure can make things better, easier, more effective.

BUT— not if they’re bad structures.

The result of our overly structured lives is that many people have not realized that they can create and evolve their own systems and structures. We tend to get all black and white about it and think that we have two choices: the template society has set out for us, or no structure at all.

Of course this isn’t true, but it’s damn hard to tell, until you’ve seen an effective counter-example.

  • It’s hard to believe you could run your own business– until you know someone who’s started one of their own.
  • It’s hard to believe you could sell your services without a degree of some sort– until you do, and you realize no one ever asks where you went to school.
  • And it’s hard to plan your business and create a strategy for it until you realize you’re supposed to— and you find out what questions to ask.

The sneaky product advert at the end of an 800 word sociology lecture

It’s a bit of a misnomer to call my new course Your Next 6 Months (Forever) a “planning course.” It is… but it’s more like I give you a structure to use, show you how *I* would use it, and then invite you to make it your own.

Part of the reason we’re so driven to use the same structures that other people use is because it’s really hard to create your own structure whole cloth. So by giving you a starting point from which to adapt, you’re way ahead of the game.

The second reason why Your Next 6 Months (Forever) is so helpful is that it shows you how (as I call it ) to be “One with the Yo-yo.”

Without a structure, a mental picture of how to move from Master & Commander to Implementor, people really flounder, and don’t know when or how to give each role the attention it requires and deserves.

If that sounds like something you struggle with, I put to you that THAT is why YN6MF is such a valuable course. Becoming one with the yo-yo may just be the single most crucial skill you learn as a solopreneur.

Click here to check out Your Next 6 Months Forever