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Your Company
April 27, 2011


* Steve’s Field Note
* Tapa Palapa Radio Show Menu
* Resource – Coaching Rate Special
* Feature – “Live And Work In A Playlab”
* Advisory Board – Spread the word!

Steve’s Field Note

Hello, Trailblazer!

Some of the trailblazing skills we learn help us tame the wilderness we are exploring so we can ‘work the land’ or establish a trading post. Other skills are more about enjoying life on the trail, seeing and doing things most people don’t even attempt. I spent the last couple of weeks playing around with some trailblazing skills and I don’t know whether they will be taming skills, enjoying-the-trail skills, or both.

I created three short videos for different purposes and posted them for you to see. I decided to create the first one somewhat abruptly. I was invited to talk with a group of coaches in training about ways to create and market profit centers. The invitation came on Wednesday morning, and my appearance on the resource group call was going to happen that night. Realizing some participants would check out my web site, I saw my previous indecision about how to update my home page grow crystal clear and full of intention. I wanted a video to welcome people and encourage them to take the next step.

I set up the camera, composed the backdrop, took a few test runs, and recorded the video. Then I uploaded it to my computer, edited it, formatted it, and uploaded it to the internet. I formatted my home page so it features the video. And I got it done in time for the call! You can see the results here:

The following Tuesday fellow coach Francie Cooper and I were recording an episode of Tapa Palapa at a spa so we came up with an idea for a short video tour of the spa while I walked through looking for Francie. This one I filmed in the simplest way, on my iPhone. I had to edit separate clips into one sequence and added some text for the intro and the end. You can see that project here:

I had a great conversation with Marianne Cantwell of Free Range Humans last week about ways to help people start moving forward once they decide to redesign their careers. You can listen to a clip from that call here. The conversation led us to talk about play projects as a low-risk way to try things out, and I decided I wanted to start a play project. The two video experiences had nudged me to go ahead and start recording video tips on trailblazing. I registered a new web site at Trailblazing.TV and headed to the lake to plan my first episode. I wound up recording there sort of spontaneously, again using my iPhone. You can see the first episode of Trailblazing TV here:

What about you? Do you have an idea that intrigues you but seems complex when you envision it? Is that making it hard to get started? Think of a way to try out one of the core aspects to rest run it. I explain more about play projects in the feature article.

Get out and play. Enjoy exploring, and…

Enjoy the scenery on the Twisting Road!

Tapa Palapa Radio Show

Tapa Palapa is a short weekly radio show, around 12 minutes per episode, available through the internet.

For April our menu theme is “Play Is Serious Work.”
We are talking about the importance of fun and recreation in a healthy, balanced life.

* Choose fun (April 5)
* Chillax (April 12)
* Ooh… Ahh… (April 19)
* Ferris Bueller took one! (April 26)

All four episodes of the show for April are available so you can listen to them in order. Our goal was to champion the importance of including fun and recreation in your life. We cover many different kinds of enjoyment and relaxation and give you lots of suggestions for incorporating more play into your life. Why is it so hard to do that?

Click here to stream or download the latest episode through iTunes or visit our website to stream or download the shows directly.

Coaching Rate Special

Would you be willing to let me keep track and report the amount of time I spend coaching you – while still keeping the content private?

If so I can offer you a 40% discount on my monthly extended coaching program. This discount applies specifically to my package of four (4) extended sessions of 50 minutes each. When you take me up on my offer you will be eligible for this discount for up to six (6) months of coaching. I’m tracking hours needed towards certification.

Call me at (817) 416-8971 or e-mail me at Steve@SteveCoxsey.com for the details.

“Live And Work In A Playlab”

“You can’t like it ’til you try it.”

That’s my son Mateo’s variation of “Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.” He’s been saying this since he was four or five years old. I prefer his version. It’s more optimistic, and it’s more about enjoying. The corollary of “Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it” seems to be that once you’ve tried something you have license to criticize and complain. The corollary to “You can’t like it ’til you try it” is that you may not like it, but exploring is the only way to know for sure.

There are things you have to try in order to find out what they are really like. Imagination and speculation only take you so far. They can help you rule out some really bad ideas (like chocolate mixed with sardines), but sometimes they can only help you approximate what it will be like to experience a new thing. Oftentimes you just can’t know for sure until you give it a whirl.

I’ve heard this message in various forms in recent years, but lately I’m the one teaching it. That tells me a couple of things. First, if I keep teaching other people this lesson, I must need to listen to it again myself! Second, there must be a lot of other people who need to hear it, too.

During the last episode of the Tapa Palapa internet radio show I was talking with my friend Francie Cooper about making lists of things to enjoy on a fun day off. We realized it’s also important to make a list of things you’ve been thinking might be fun but haven’t tried yet. How can you find something new that you enjoy unless you’re willing to do it before you know for sure that you’ll like it?

I’ve also been talking with colleague Marianne Cantwell about a program she put together to help clients design a custom career that fits them and their preferred lifestyle perfectly. She noted that a lot of clients are frozen because they think they have to figure out each piece exactly before they can take any steps. Of course, it’s impossible to figure out something perfectly in imagination when knowing it requires actual experience.

We both encourage clients to test drive their ideas in a “play project,” a phrase which I first learned from John Williams, author of “Screw Work, Let’s Play.” John and Marianne have known each other for a while, so I don’t know if she learned the phrase from him, or if in fact he swiped it from her. It’s definitely worthy of swiping, so I use it often now.

I had play projects before I ever heard the term. One of the best parts about my career transition has been designing my business in a playlab. Playlab is my term, but you’re welcome to swipe it. A playlab is a place where you experiment and explore, tinkering with things and trying them out to see how they work for you. A playlab is a place where you have lots of play projects.

My first blog was a play project. I wanted to learn how to set one up and format it and see what a regular writing assignment would be like. Each time I’ve changed the format of a blog or web site it has been a play project. Francie and I started the Tapa Palapa radio show originally as a play project. Heck, last week I set up Trailblazing TV as a play project, after putting a welcome video on the home page of my web site as a play project.

A play project is simply a low-hurdle, low-risk way to try out an idea. It’s a small, contained test run, sort of a beta version of a beta version. It’s trying out some component of a bigger idea to see if it’s worth it to put time and energy into developing the whole idea. Here’s an example.

A woman is looking for work she can enjoy that integrates with her preferred lifestyle. She thinks she might like to have a small business making floral arrangements and gift baskets. She’s never done either professionally, only in a very limited way for fun. A play project for her might be finding a practice client who will pay for the flowers and materials and allow her to make the arrangements for a party. Another play project may be finding a practice client who will let her put together a customized gift basket, buying all the pieces and letting her compose them.

With either project, or both, she gets to experience designing something for someone else, listening to their preferences and translating them into the finished product. She gets to experience the confusion and the frustration of bringing her creative vision to life, as well as the satisfaction and pride of a completed project.

If she enjoys her play projects and her practice clients are satisfied, she can do a couple more. This will give her more experience and let her compile a portfolio and start gathering recommendations and testimonials. It’s pretty easy for her to build on this experience and charge a modest fee for arranging flowers or gift baskets for the next round of clients. Eventually, if she enjoys it and keeps going, she will have clients paying her a market rate for her work. From there it’s not such a big leap to rent a store front. It would be a huge leap to go from thinking she might enjoy owning a shop to signing a lease and opening up with no clients and no experience.

The play project works for all kinds of ideas. A man who thinks he would like to write a weekly newspaper column can set up a schedule and produce a column each week for twelve weeks. He’ll find out what it’s like to meet a deadline, even though it’s only an obligation to himself at first. He’ll find out what it’s like to plan twelve topics. He’ll find out what it’s like to write when he doesn’t feel motivated or inspired. And he’ll find out if he can keep his writing fresh or if it all sounds repetitive. At the end of twelve weeks, he’ll have a portfolio to show newspapers if he decides to keep moving forward.

A woman interested in home staging can find a real estate agent willing to give her a chance to try out her skills. A man interested in catering can volunteer to prepare all the food for a friend’s event. Two coaches who wonder if an internet radio show (podcast) is a good platform for them can try recording their conversations on a computer.

When we get an idea to try something new, we stop for a few reasons. One common reason is that our vision of doing this new thing is specific, complicated, and involved. It includes a lot of things we haven’t learned yet, so it seems nearly impossible. Another reason we stop is that there are a lot of foggy areas that can’t be made clear by guessing. Yet another reason is we’re concerned there’s a hidden downside, some unpleasant or challenging part we’ll only find out once we’re so committed we can’t escape – ever!

A play project is a soft way to try out ideas and move forward slowly instead of stopping. You don’t have to learn all the new things at once. Start with one. You don’t have to fill in all the foggy areas and design a complete project. Play with an aspect of it and watch the details fill in through your experience.

When your business is a playlab you realize you will always be tinkering and experimenting. There won’t be a project that will own you or trap you. No hidden downside will permanently vex you because you’ll be able to see ways to rearrange or deconstruct or completely invert something to make it work better. No project can trap you because you will be the architect and the builder.

That’s the secret. It’s not the project that helps you learn and grow and be more flexible.

It’s the play.

Advisory Board

That’s you. If you like what you read, please tell your family and friends. If you don’t like something, please tell me!

Thanks for Joining Me on the Journey,

Steve Coxsey

The Twisting Road Traveler is a publication of Twisting Road Media and Stephen Coxsey

Copyright (C) 2011 Stephen Coxsey and Twisting Road
* All rights reserved *

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