Everyone Should Be a Consultant

Chip R. Bell

I have spent thirty years as an independent, business consultant. That role has taught me a lot about how to make life work and make work come alive. I wish everyone could be a consultant. Thank goodness, they all are not!

As an independent consultant, you are self-employed. You create every day. No one tells you what to work on. No one cares if you punched in or when. No one cares about the depth of your in-box, the location of your parking space, or the number of meetings you are scheduled to attend. How hard you work is as irrelevant as how effective you are at walking your dog. Only concrete results matter; tireless effort is just the stuff you do to get there. Those who work in organizations with the same perspective are more successful than those who act as if they are just a passenger on some organizational vehicle transporting them to retirement.

As a consultant, you are completely accountable for your performance. Playing the blame game does not get you a "get out of jail free" card. Clients are never moved by your hand-ringing excuses nor made more confident by your shifting the focus to the supplier who let you down. Those who work in organizations with a similar results-orientation are more successful than those who engage in "shake and fake" passionate interest without substantive performance.

Consultants who thrive bring optimism, courage, character and spirit to those they serve. Those in organizations who are joy carriers thrive for the same reason. You do not inherit spirit, acquire spirit or borrow spirit; you choose spirit much like you choose to introduce yourself to a stranger. Those who opt for an upbeat, positive spirit are happier, healthier and far more productive.

Finally, successful consultants bring a deep commitment to serving others. The soul of service requires caring about the client at a personal level, not just at a professional one. The relationship is more important than the transaction. The wisdom and talent you generously share is more valuable than what you hoard or protect. The humble facilitation of discovery is more powerful than the arrogant delivery of expertise. Clients remember who you are and what you stand for long after they have forgotten what you recommended or where you came from. Success within organizations emanates from the exact same zeal to serve.

Fortunately or unfortunately everyone cannot be an independent consultant. I have learned that those in organizations with the greatest influence as well as the highest self-worth are those who act like they are a consultant.

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