The Sidekick Service

You. You’re working to make something great.

Do you know how fantastic that is?

Really, take a moment. Do you know how amazing this is? How brilliant you are?

How rare and beautiful and fuck-yeah inspiring it is to see you chase your Pursuit?

(Whatever it is. A webcomic? A coaching practice? An air cannon?)

Thank you for doing it. Thank you. thankyouthankyouthankyou.

I know that it feels sometimes that this is one big selfish indulgence, but it isn’t. You are making the world a more wonderful place with your Pursuit. Every time you stay on track and refuse to conform to the deadening weight of mediocrity, you are doing a service to your peers, your community, and to all of us who want to make great things.

You’re determined to be true. To stand. We salute that in you, lovely.

jack_salute

It’s a hard road you’ve chosen to walk.

Of course it is! ’Cos lets face it, no-one wakes up at 3am with a vision, saying, “I’m gonna make the most blandest unnecessary boringest piece of rubbish ever! Woo!”

We all start with vision.

For anything we’re choosing to make voluntarily, at least. Assembly-line creativity is a different beastie.

We start with something true. Then come the necessary thousand thousand decisions to make as you create your Pursuit. And as they make them, many – most? – people stray away from that true vision, one tiny unnoticeable step at a time.

And where do those tiny unnoticeable steps take them? Generally down the smoothest, most well-warn path. –> This way to mediocrity.

To create a magnificent work, a truthful and brilliant and inspiring work, you must constantly resist the beautifully signposted and immaculately tended super-highway created by every single person before you who has trod the same path. You have to know the times when you must deviate off into the underbrush, machete in hand, to blaze your own trail.

That is hard work. Scary work. Lonely and uncertain work.

It’s no wonder so many people follow the super-highway, even if they don’t like the destination.

But you? You are determined to head off into the wilderness. And that’s admirable.

I’d like to help.

You are the hero of this story. Which means that to help you I’m the sidekick. And I’m cool with that.

So this is The Sidekick Service.

My job as the sidekick is twofold:
1. To help you resolve constraints.
2. To help you resist restraints.

Rocking the constraints

The constraints part is simple enough.

  1. You have limitations: budget, time, resources, skills, team, technology, etc.
  2. To produce your Pursuit, you have to find a way to surmount/solve/workaround/reduce/accept-with-philosophical-detachment these limitations.

There’s nothing wrong with this; in fact any project with no limitations is probably headed for terrible disaster (I’m looking at you, big budget Hollywood abominations).

As the hero, your job is to find the best solution for the problem at hand. As the sidekick, my job is to add more options before you decide. Better options.

My main super-power? I’m not afraid to ask the obvious questions.

When you tell me about the impossible amount of work you have to get through on Mondays, I will not only go through every thing on that list and ask, “Do you have to do your weekly planning on Mondays?”. I’ll also ask, “Why are you doing that task?” and, “What happens if you don’t do it any more?”

I always make a distinction between you – who are absolutely wonderful – and your habits and processes – which can suck hardcore. I would never, ever hurt you, but your assumptions I will go after with a flaming chainsaw and a barbaric yawp.

Also, I have some limited foresight.

For example, if you’re telling me about the gigantic steel statue you’re welding in your workshop, my first question will be, “Is it going to fit through the doors?” and the second will be “How will you get it to the skate park?” ’Cos I know that you, full of inspiration, might not have thought about that.

This is an experience not to be missed.

You’ll spend an awful amount of time exclaiming, “Why didn’t I think of that!?!”

And every time I will remind you: “I’m not as close to this as you are. I’m not an expert like you are. Which means I don’t know how it’s supposed to go, and I’m free to suggest how it might.”

The handling of constraints is one part of my sidekick job, and a useful one, but it’s not the most important one.

Dealing with restraints

This is the harder part for many people.

We spent so long in our lives compromising and good-enoughing and self-sabotaging that it’s become a habit, and one that’s hard to change even when we are mad as hell and ready to say, “Fuck the haters.”

What we’ll do is discover, uncover, and recover (I’m so proud of that trio! It’s true and poetical) all of your Unbreakable rules.

Some of them you’ve never been brave enough to reallytruly commit to before, ‘cos how dare you aim so high. Some of them are like scars, the visible reminder of past fuckups. Some are so prosaic and mundane you often decide to be all cool and impulsive and abandon them, only to crawl back later with an ashamed grin.

These are the standards that will keep your feet on the right path. These are the core of your vision and how you’ll make it happen, cap’n.

Every time we talk, I’ll continually remind you of those rules.

  • When we work on your structure.
  • When we resolve your constraints.
  • When we let you complain about things for a bit.
  • When we discuss changes.
  • When we measure how it’s going.
  • When we play with new ideas.
  • When we talk strategy.
  • When we celebrate.

We will bring your Unbreakables into every crevice of the work you’re doing, until it would be harder work to compromise than to respect your vision.

You have to default to brilliant. Can you imagine how much vastly better your work (and life!) would be if you spent it doing amazing remarkable work more often?

How The Sidekick Service works.

You click the nifty button below and sign up to pay my monthly Sidekick salary of $US180.

You can cancel at any time, but please be aware that there are only so many pairs of tights I can wear at one time. As soon as I meet my quota, I’ll be creating a wait-list. If you cancel and then want me back, you’ll have to join the line like everyone else.

We’ll meet over Skype for half an hour every two weeks, either at the same Bat Time, same Bat Channel (if you prefer regularity) or at whatever time suits you each fortnight (if you lead a much more interesting life than I do).

Some months, that means you’ll get three sessions instead of two! I did this on purpose because I am thoughtful.

Each time, you’ll be prepared with one of the following:

  • a problem you want to solve
  • an amazing opportunity you want to make the most of
  • a brilliant new idea
  • an action you want to be accountable for
  • a block you’ve run into
  • a system that needs some loving
  • or something else, of course

Our first focus will be to work on that until you’re ready to take the next step with it. That will generally take about 15 minutes or so. (Really.)

For the rest of the time, we’ll nibble. What else is on your mind? What do you want to celebrate? What do you and your Pursuit need right now? What’s feeling bleh? We’ll prod, poke, cheer and improve.

You will say very intelligent things, and I will probably say a few smart ones too. Luckily, we’re recording the session so you can listen to it again later.

And always, we’ll be driving to make your Unbreakable rules part of who you are and how you work.

Because like I said at the beginning, it’s fantastic that you’re doing this work, and I salute you.

Ready to get someone at your back?

Click the button and let’s get started!




 

Want to hear from peeps who already have a sidekick?

maddieJust knowing I have a regular call scheduled with Catherine keeps my momentum going. But the best bits are the nuggets of gold on those calls. I’ve had incredible value from our work – way, way more than I could have ever done on my own. Totally, totally worth the money and the time. Top work – thank you so much. – Maddie Shaw, awesome coach at TheRealBrilliance.com

nadiraI re-signed-up to work with Catherine because she cuts out the crap.

I make things way harder than they need to be. I convince myself that nothing will be good enough unless it has 17 bells and whistles. (And unless I have ruthlessly rehearsed those 17 instruments until they can play a flawless “Ode to Joy”. And until I have learned to sing. And mastered German diction. And designed the perfect dress for the performance.)

On a good day, this takes the joy out of my work. On a bad day, it makes me hide from my work. (Work I want to be doing and would enjoy if I could just get started.)

Luckily, I know this about myself. But that doesn’t make it easy to resist. Luckily, I talk to Catherine every other week.

Catherine doesn’t tell me what to do (which is good, because I get cranky when people boss me around). Sometimes she makes suggestions, and these are always helpful. But mostly she asks questions. And as I answer them, the simple approach becomes obvious. (Hilariously obvious.)

Then without all that crap weighing me down, I’m excited to get to work.

(The fact that she gets my Tank Girl references really helps too.)

– Nadira Jamal, the BellyDanceGeek.com

Ming-ZhuCatherine’s always been a deeply cutting, deeply compassionate razor for my professional crap. A lot – a lot a lot a lot a lot of people out there in the spaces in which I work don’t have this kind of practical support – which now that I’ve been working with Catherine for a few years, I think is kind of madness.

I produce a lot of my own work, so whether I’m tackling marketing, strategy or actual art-making itself, having an impartial, non-industry based outside-eye on my multilayered practice just cuts through the crap and gets me on track and working far more effectively than if I were going it 100% alone.

The decision to work with Catherine on an ongoing basis was a no-brainer. Fortnightly, my process gets hacked. My professional shitstorms get hacked. My circular states of frustrated ambivalence get hacked. And I can move on with my work, get shit done and skip those otherwise pesky breakdowns, burnouts or huge losses of faith in my practice.

Ming-Zhu Hii, producer and artist at thepublicstudio.net

Want to ask me some questions first? Of course, my lovely! Contact me and we’ll do that.

And again, THANK YOU for being brave and brilliant.

You rock on toast.