Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Alpaca Life: Living Outside the Box

When I worked as an engineer, I would often say that I felt like I was an out of the box person having to live within the box.  It was so true working for the government.  Nothing is more in the box thinking than working in that environment.  I was forever getting myself into "trouble" because of my thinking.  My ideas definitely didn't conform to the safe, predictable world of the government think.  Then, as I transitioned into working in the counseling world, I felt like I was starting to be able to get outside the box.  However, when you counsel, it is almost by definition of a box when you see clients in a small, contained room.  I think that is why when I was interning, I liked counseling children because they definitely are out of the box thinkers.  They haven't been fully indoctrinated into box thinking yet.  It was challenging and fascinating using their imagination to figure out their issues and how to help them.  But, even though counseling was closer to how my brain and personality works, it still was still too boxish.  I felt like Goldilocks trying on these different careers and feeling which one felt right.  Those two previous careers were a limited fit to my personality. 

Now that I run and work my alpaca farm, I can honestly say, that I am finally living outside the box.  Heck, there is no box trying to run this sort of business!  It is great and yet it is scary since there is no boundary and safe haven the boxes offer.  The last few years since starting my farm, I have gone through many transitions as I adjust my business plan.  The first two years I went back to thinking more safely.  I had seen what works in other alpaca businesses and mimicked what they were doing, but it was box thinking again and not me.  It worked ok but not great and I never felt overly comfortable doing them.  I had built a reputation with clicker training when I boarded.  I tried using that but it didn't seem as big an interest here in Oregon when I first started.  I wasn't getting the clientele I hoped for in the beginning.  And, I was so busy running my own place, it was really hard to get away to teach workshops at other farms and leave my own place.  That was a real setback in building that positive reinforcement model.  I took a bit of a break from teaching workshops, but during that time, I honed my skills and techniques on my own farm.  Now that I was running my own business, I was proving it to myself more and more how valuable those techniques are in managing my herd.  It was one thing telling people how wonderful these techniques are in saving time and energy when I was boarding, but had others taking care of their daily needs.  It was another thing having ALL the responsibilities on my shoulders.  Now, I can stand in front of clients in a workshop and KNOW from experience that Positive Reinforcement WORKS! 

Living an Out of the Box life is not for everyone.  There are days when I say to myself, "What was I thinking doing this!"  There is something to be said making that steady known paycheck.  Yet, here I am absolutely loving what I do, working hard to make my out of the box life a working business model.  Like Goldilocks, this alpaca farm life fits me just right. 

Cindy and Jamilah enjoying our out of the box life together.
Read more about alpaca life in the book Alpacas Don't Do That now on Amazon and at Amazon UK.

1 comment:

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