When I asked to write an article on entrepreneurship from a “young” Rolfer’s point of view, the request was a marvelous coincidence: two weeks before, I had been thinking in a concentrated way for the first time about what I have always labeled the “woo-woo” aspect of building a Rolfing practice.
After almost three years, I am still a new Rolfer, and practice building has been a very present concern for me. Like most of us, I’ve had to sift through talks and demonstrations, advertising and networking, educating the community and educating myself. What I’ve noticed about all these activities is they work. What I also noticed, early on, was there was something else working as well. I’m still not sure what that something is, although; I have some ideas I’ll share here. This article is an inquiry, not an exposition; and if any of it resonates with anyone out there, I’d love to hear your ideas, experiences, and/or insights.
Early in my practice I began to noticed how the state of my health also seemed to affect my clients. I don’t mean I was giving them the flu; I mean, pure and simple, they disappeared when I wasn’t feeling well. I didn’t even have to tell them I wasn’t feeling well; I wouldn’t even have to see them. Somehow they knew I wasn’t up to working, and they would call and cancel. And it also seemed during these times, cancellation calls were all I got. No one called to make an appointment or inquire about Rolfing. I watched this happen repeatedly for over a year and finally had to admit it was consistent.
At this point, I began to wonder if this phenomenon could work the other way. That is, if I took excellent care of myself, would clients come out of the woodwork? After another year’s experimentation, the answer is a resounding “Yes”! I only have to hold the intention of taking care of myself, and clients appear.
Concurrently, I had seen time and time again, that my level of excitement about Rolfing also had an effect on my clientele. Now, of course, this is obvious in some areas. When one does a demonstration feeling tired and unenthusiastic, it stands to reason people will not respond as eagerly as they would to someone who is energetic and excited about the work. Again, what I’m talking about are situations in which people respond without having direct contact with me.
Two years into my practice, this was the gist of my research into the “other side of practice building”. Then recently, I was looking through my appointment book for the previous year. As I reviewed each month, remembering what was happening in my life at the time, I was struck at gut level with the fact that my clientele at each given moment was exactly what I could handle, given the circumstances. It was so clear and so unfailingly consistent that I couldn’t ignore it. Immediately I had an image of myself as a broadcasting tower, somehow, on some level, broadcasting to the world: “Here’s what I need. X number of clients will do quite nicely, thank you.”
This gave me a lot to think about. My first thoughts were about becoming more aware of my broadcast at any given moment. My next thoughts, of course, were about becoming Program Director for this broadcast. Could I take a greater hand in determining the contents of the broadcast? I felt like I had just been given my next year’s research project.
In the days that followed, I became clear that the things I had been observing for the last two years – my health, self-care and enthusiasm – definitely had an effect on my broadcast. It seemed I was already on my way to becoming my own Program Director and D.J.
Then I began to think in terms of intention. In Rolfing, I had seen that with clear intention I could affect changes which my hands alone weren’t capable of. So, it seemed possible that the simplest and most powerful way to effect my broadcast would be with my intention. I began by simply and consciously holding the intention, “I’m a Rolfer. I’m available to do Rolfing.” The phone began to ring. I explored making my intention more specific in terms of client numbers, clients per day, etc. The phone kept ringing. I tried different ways of staying present to my intention – even writing it down on paper and carrying it in my pocket. The phone is still ringing.
It’s very tempting to draw conclusions from this short experiment. The only one I am willing to consider at this time is that intention seems to be as powerful a component in practice building as it is in Rolfing. It’s going to be fun to play with this. Give me a year, and I’ll let you know what I’ve observed.
Sarah Emory is a Certified Rolfer in Seattle, Washington.