October 2009

This week I started a new company called Families InDeed—“Growing Exceptional Families and Leading by Example.”

I’m very excited about this project because I will be teaching a fantastic set of parenting classes I haven’t had the opportunity to teach in nearly twelve years!

After years of threatening to do it, I’ve finally taken the leap and re-vamped the classes for today’s parents. But re-vamping classes and deciding to teach them isn’t enough. I knew I needed to have a very specific plan for the vision that was dancing in my head. I needed to write a ‘white paper’ – a type of marketing tool. It answers questions such as who, what, where and when in regards to products or services you are selling.

Putting all of those thoughts and dreams and ideas down on paper was proving far more difficult than it sounds above. How much should I charge? Who would be interested in these classes? How would I accomplish my goals, and for that matter, what were my defined goals?

I stopped and started several times on the white paper before realizing I needed a different approach. I opened a new document in Word and typed:

Creative Me:

Methodical Me:

These were the two voices warring for attention in my brain. The first one was hopping up and down in excitement while the second one was the voice of reason, of questions and facts and realism. I began to write a dialogue between them…

Methodical Me: What is it that I want?

Creative me: I want to teach parenting classes!

Methodical Me: Okay, teaching parenting classes sounds fine with me. In fact, it sounds great! But a few questions first.

Creative Me: Sure! Ask away!

Methodical Me: Who are these classes for?

Creative Me: Everyone!

Methodical Me: [smiles] Okay, can you think of any limitations right now?

Creative Me: [stops bouncing] Well, a few. The classes I currently have are aimed at the ages 2-10 bracket. But I can put something together for teens as well!

Methodical Me: Okay, that sounds wonderful. So right now, we have the PEP series for Children Ages 2-10, right?

Creative Me: Right!

Methodical Me: Wonderful. So now tell me about where you are going to teach these classes.

Creative me: I could teach the classes at local schools, daycare centers, libraries, and even counseling centers.

Methodical Me: Excellent. Now how would you approach these people and what would you need to provide them in the way of marketing materials and information?

Creative Me: Oh wow…have I got a list of to-do’s!

  • I need a presentation packet: brochure, a single page overview of the parenting classes, a short bio about me, and so much more.
  • I also need to finish the Powerpoint presentations on all of classes in the basic seven-session series.
  • I also need to prepare an instructor timeline, but that can wait until I’ve given them a final polish. Because, obviously, I won’t need to have that until I actually DO the classes.

Methodical Me: Okay, slow down. Let’s talk for a minute about WHO, WHAT, and WHEN and then we’ll get back to the WHERE. Is that okay?

It may sound silly, but it worked. I realized very quickly that these two very distinct, unique voices were me, but they were different aspects of me. In writing it out, and actually ‘coaching’ my other ‘me’ I was able to hone in on areas where I had questions.

In the end I came up with a workable action plan to how I wanted to see Families InDeed begin, who it was for, where it could go, and when it could get there.

Starting a dialogue with yourself may sound silly, but think of it this way.

Our minds exist to ask question and give answers—learning and knowledge are lifelong endeavors and we live for the opportunity to expand our understanding more with each day that passes. Asking yourself the important questions stimulates the need to answer and encourages introspection and understanding of self.

Try it.

You might be surprised at how well it works!

Above all, the thing to keep in mind is this: Not all things work for all people. So if you can sit down and write a business plan from the get-go, great, go do that. But if you are having difficulty getting started, starting a dialogue with your ‘self’ might do the trick too!


Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m in a rut.

Yes, it even happens to busy, busy me.

What does a rut look like in the Shuck household? Just about the same way it looks in most other households. It usually involves the same things happening each and every evening, with a large preponderance of television viewing or surfing the web.

I picked up my daughter from her daycare, ran an errand and returned home. Around this time of day my wonderful spouse is usually fixing dinner. However, tonight he had a Chi Gung class to teach and this meant I was on my own. Emily began with a list of demands…

“I want milk.”

“I want string cheese.”

“I want a cookie.”

I had sat down for ‘just a minute’ to check the tv listings for the evening…nothing. I somehow ended up reading all about Helen Keller for all of, well, three minutes before the princess began her list of demands. I grudgingly went to the pantry to figure out dinner.

I’m spoiled by my husband’s cooking. Despite this, I am a good cook when I actually focus on that and just do it. As I pieced together a quick meal of Fettuccine Alfredo with chicken and broccoli I realized…”Oh no! I’m in a rut!”

I can’t remember the last time I wrote anything significant (and no, blogging doesn’t count unless it’s truly profound, and this just isn’t).

My desk is a mess and my ironing board has stood in my office for over three weeks now…long enough to accumulate a layer of clutter. And I can’t remember the last time I dusted.

For me to admit that, as a professional organizer and owner of a cleaning business, is a pretty big step. But even I get in a rut, and let me tell you, this is one of them.

Perhaps it is the onset of fall with the promise of chilly days and icy streets just around the corner. The shorter days don’t help and I’m dreading the dry cold that means unending sinus headaches unless I hover over a humidifier for the next six months.

Perhaps I’m stretching myself too thin. It isn’t something I like to think about or dwell on, but I know that I often push myself hard, and in many directions, and sometimes I have to pay a price. The price is usually a full stop. For a while, nothing at all happens. The trolley just doesn’t move forward at all.

In other words, a rut.

Perhaps a rut is our mind’s way of saying, “It’s all too much.” For those moments, it might be a good idea to simply stop and not do anything for a while, not push yourself any further.

But for some of us, even me in years past, a rut is like the ‘waiting place’ that Dr. Seuss described in “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” That horrible nowhereland where no one does anything and everyone is just waiting.

If your rut is the ‘waiting place’ then let me tell you, you’d better light a fire under your patoot and get the heck out of there!

I’m going to wrap this entry up, tidy my desk and then go play a game with my little princess and maybe read a book or two to her.

As for you, if you are feeling rather down or in a rut, list five things to get you out of the rut and then tackle them, one at a time or all at once, your choice.

When I read this article I was reminded of President Obama’s controversial speech to school children. No matter what side of the political line you fall on, the following quote should appeal to all…

Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is.

I could say a lot more about this, but really the words speak for themselves. Figure it out, go for it, resolve yourself to change the world. One windmill at a time.