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Are You Structure-Phobic?

I’ve been noticing lately how there are two kinds of people.

One kind prefers a lifestyle that’s decisive, planned, and orderly.   They’re the folks who always wear watches, carry calendars, and rely on To-Do lists, which they prioritize and work systematically. They plan the work and work the plan.

The other kind of person likes to be more flexible, spontaneous, and go with the flow. They feel roped in by organizational structures, so they typically avoid them as much as possible. They prefer to have a general goal in mind and are content to get there when they get there, figuring out what they need to do as they go along. They dislike the constraints of a detailed plan with a specific timeline.

Okay, so clearly there are times when it pays to have a plan and work it systematically. And clearly there are times when it makes sense to be more spontaneous and flexible.

But what about when you’re trying to start or build a business? Which is going to get you what you want … a decisive, planned, and orderly approach that effectively employs organizational structures or a more flexible, spontaneous, go-with-the-flow kind of approach?

The answer is clear, and yet, as a business coach, I’ve noticed a couple of things.

A whole heck of a lot of people who start businesses resist putting structures in place. And it isn’t as if they don’t know that they need them. They aren’t stupid. They understand the benefits.

So, why do they resist? The easy answer is they feel dominated by the plans and the structures. It simply goes against their grain. They feel as if creating a plan and sticking to it robs them of their freedom and flexibility.

But I’m finding there’s usually more to it than that.

If you’re resisting, ask yourself why. What’s motivating you to avoid taking advantage of something that can help you?

Look closely. There’s very likely a “story” there that explains it. There’s something you’re telling yourself and believe to be true, even if you just made it up.

Speaking of stories, I work with two delightful women who have all the smarts, the vision, the willingness to work, the expertise, and the integrity you’d need to be really successful at what they do.

They resist putting structures in place, and it’s hurting them.

When we drilled down into why, we revealed some very interesting stories. I believe they can help you.

One partner felt that managing the calendar, timelines, or other structures would fall on her shoulders and she didn’t want to be responsible for that. And, even more than that, she certainly didn’t want to be blamed if things went awry! She was afraid it would all be her fault!

The other partner has an old, limiting belief that “she’s really incompetent.” Not true, but the stories don’t have to be true. They usually aren’t.

She resists structures, because she’s afraid if she puts them in place, she’ll discover it’s not the lack of structures that’s the problem. She’ll discover she really IS incompetent. So, if she never incorporates the structures, she can blame any “failings” on her lack of structure, not her lack of competence!

Oh, how far we’ll go to protect ourselves. We create stories to protect ourselves and then we believe what we’ve made up.

I was amazed that once these two ladies distinguished what was really going on, they chose to let go of their stories. And when they did, their resistance to structure fell away!

Look, if you want to be successful in business, you’ll probably want to make peace with the idea of incorporating structures into your work life … and just forcing yourself to use them won’t work.

It starts by getting deeper into why you don’t like structures in the first place. Ask yourself why. Specifically, what are you afraid of?   Dig deep. You may be surprised at what comes up for you. It may not be easy, but the good news is that once you find out what’s there, you’ll most likely be able to get past it and enjoy all the success that’s waiting for you.

Best wishes,


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Meet Denise: Denise Hedges is a Business Development Coach and Speaker Coach for small business owners who want to be more comfortable, confident, and successful with their sales and marketing efforts. She specializes in helping them use speaking as a way to dramatically improve their results!