Navigating the Cul-de-sac
With no through traffic, the cul-de-sac offers security, solitude and higher re-sale values. Cul-de-sac dwellers hold block parties and their children play hop-scotch in the middle of the street. Everything a cul-de-sac resident enjoys will make non cul-de-sac dwellers – through-streeters –jealous. Not everyone can live on a cul-de-sac, though many would pay dearly for the chance to do so.
But – Cul-de-sacs have an evil side.
The street itself doesn’t go anywhere. If you turn into a cul-de-sac, the only choice you have is to stay or leave. Cul-de-sacs take you nowhere. The term is actually French for “dead end.” The security of the cul-de-sac comes at a price.
Metaphorically, there is no future in a cul-de-sac because it’s a stagnant place. In a cul-de-sac, forward momentum inexorably grinds to a halt.
Seth Godin defines professional and career cul-de-sacs in his book The Dip:
It’s a situation where you work and you work and you work and nothing much changes. It doesn’t get a lot better, it doesn’t get a lot worse. It just is.”
– Seth Godin
A job or business model that is secure, predictable and without unwanted change may sound like a blessing, until you consider what it’s costing you to “live” on a dead-end street.
Dangerous third option
I mentioned that there were only two options available when you drove into a cul-de-sac: stay or turn around and leave. But there’s a third–insidious–choice that can trap and hold you hostage. It is also the most commonly chosen option:
You enter the security of the dead-end street and you circle, circle, circle, circle, circle – forever.
Circling feels good. It gives you the perception of forward momentum. It can sustain your need for progress. But you aren’t going anywhere.
. . . the dead-end is keeping you from doing something else. The opportunity cost of investing your life in something that’s not going to get better is just to high.
– Seth Godin
What’s your Cul-de-sac?
For me, the cul-de-sac has been the idea that if I worked REALLY hard at networking and following up and prospecting and selling and blogging and twittering and cold-calling and marketing and all the other things you’re supposed to do to have a successful business that somehow, somewhere, some day I would be able to FINALLY do the things that actually put money in the bank and were the reason I launched my practice in the first place.
I was stuck in the circular notion of doing more and more and more while getting less and less in return. There is a sense of security in doing the same things, but going around in circles was beginning to make me dizzy.
Escaping the Cul-de-sac
A series of events provided me the opportunity to see my efforts from a different perspective. I have made some changes as I result of what I saw. My hope is that you will be encouraged by my example.
Over the next few years, I will be relinquishing the job of promoting myself and will instead concentrate the majority of my efforts on teaching, training and helping people get better at what they already do well. The marketing stuff will be handled by the expert team at Fred Pryor Seminars in Mission, Kansas. They have a fantastic line-up of topics that I will be teaching–each in my own style and with my own experience woven in. The time I’ve been wasting trying to figure out which Facebook message might generate the greatest marketing exposure can now be focused on being the best corporate trainer, facilitator and coach I can possible be.
Getting out of the cul-de-sac has opened up more time for me to write and I have a couple of book ideas brewing. The newly found “free” time will also allow me to pursue some potential business that was previously unattainable because I was focused on low-hanging fruit in order to feed the circular activity. I am very excited.
Let me help you
My consulting work continues to focus on helping people maximize what they already do well, and I’d be tickled pink to do the same for you. To set up a no obligation phone call, just pop me a message.