Lesson 3: Keeping the Momentum by Structuring Your Life Space

Welcome to Lesson 3 where we keep rolling, or should I say “wave riding”, with the Surfing the Gig Economy Model? At this point, we have laid the foundation for work with career clients by helping reframe their mindsets about the gig economy and building a personal brand story as a coping tool. Now, we need to build their capacity to learn to thrive in the gig environment.

Let’s set the stage with this interview with professor and author Louis Hyman talking about the possibility of the Gig Economy, the pathway forward to this economy being good for workers, and a hopeful future. Watch this video.


As Stephen Covey recommended, I want this video to help us begin with the end in mind. If we have an idea of the structure we want for a worker within the gig economy, we can use this as a baseline for helping our clients build their own capacity until that reality is realized. 

My basic premise for this portion of the Surfing Model is that we must help clients achieve the following to thrive in the gig economy:

Be self-led.
Be self-organized.
Be self-managed.
Be engaged in a self-created community.

If you look at the first of two prompts on “My Surfing Guide” you will see that the essential question for 3a. is “What are my most important transferrable skills?”

When you ask a client this question, they will likely provide you with their excellent list of “soft skills, technical abilities, and credentials. You must capture these and hold them as important. Further, you must help the client connect these attributes to the essential prompt, “What lights your fire?”

As an avid camper in my youth, I know starting a fire is at times difficult but once done leads to the on-going process of maintaining your fire. You must make sure to have enough fuel to keep the fire going as hot and long as you need it; you must organize the fire in such a way that it meets your needs (e.g., build a heat shield for a heating fire, proper placement of coals for a cooking fire, etc.); you must manage the fire over time so it does not go out; and… I have never “met” a fire that wasn’t more useful or pleasurable than one shared with a community.

So, let’s get cooking…? (I am realizing that I am mixing my metaphors here – fire and water… yin and yang… just hang in there with me.)

We want to help our clients learn to think about these four components of thriving in the gig economy.

Be self-led.
Be self-organized.
Be self-managed.
Be engaged in a self-created community.

Items 1-3 are components of item 3a. My most important transferrable skill on My Surfing Guide. We want to use that most transferable skill to orient clients to developing their ability to be self… led, organized, and managed. Item 4 is approached separately as item 3b. My network that works for me because it is a different type of thought process.

Be Self-Led

Now, I am not going to do all the work here so let’s watch an excellent 6:20 Ted Talk from Sarah Hinawi on being self-led in the gig economy.

Can you envision doing this type of work with your clients? What techniques or exercise might you do to encourage a self-leading plan with a client centered on their one most transferrable skill? I will provide examples in my video at the end of this lesson.


Be Self-Organized

This is the point where I want to get a little more scientific with you. Self-organization is a key aspect of chaos theory which is the theory that I believe is most accurate in describing the human reaction to the gig economy.

Take a few minutes and read about how chaos and system self-organization is thought about from the employer/ company perspective.  We will discuss how this concept is applied from a client perspective in my dialogue in this section.

How do you already help your clients identify and/or create awareness of patterns in their lives? Do you help them identify adaptive versus maladaptive patterns? Do you help them change patterns? Again, I will speak more directly to this in my video at the end of this lesson.

Be Self-Managed

This aspect of coaching/ counseling is in my opinion one of the greatest gifts we can give our clients. So many of us have been fooled into thinking about time in maladaptive ways, feeling almost enslaved to time. I can’t speak to this better than Rory Vaden, the author of “Take the Stairs” so do enjoy his 18:31 Ted Talk here:


**DISCLAIMER – There is a specific religious reference at the end of the video. Please note that I and this system does not promote any specific faith system. This reference is made but does not change the importance of the author’s content**

How do you encourage your clients to think about time? Urgency and importance are easy and often orientations of thought that clients walk in the door with, how do you foster thinking about significance?

Encouraging self-management, becoming a multiplier thinker, adopting significance thinking is an important element of 21st Century career work. I will address this more in my video at the end of this lesson.

Be engaged in a self-created community

We are NOT thinking about small things in this lesson. Take a break to let it soak in if you need it. We are now moving on to item 3b. My network that works for me is of My Surfing Guide. Once we address the three ways to direct oneself above, we need to think about client support systems.

The reality is that clients may change their thoughts, behaviors, or emotions while working with career services professionals but they often do not simultaneously change their social world.

Thriving in the gig economy requires one to self-create a community that challenges and supports them in pursuit of their goals, is sustaining for them through ups and downs, and at times is part of their network.

I other words… to be self-led, self-organized, and self-managed a client will need to have a social network that supports them in these enterprises. Understanding comes before adaptation therefore I recommend using an ecomap technique with clients to help them understand their social networks.

Read this basic guide to ecomapping.   Now, you will have to adapt it a bit. My adaption includes:
Identifying 3 types of persons within their social network:

      Work community of practice
      Work community of support

These three types of person in one’s network require some definition:

1. Work community of practice is the community or communities that do the same types of work you do. For example, if you are a graphic designer then it is other designers who you might get/give referrals to, ask to help with technical problems, or attend professional development together.

2. Work community of support is the community that provides professional support to you. It might be people at a co-working space, colleagues you interact with (e.g., a salesperson or vendor that provides your equipment) but who do not have the same technical skills you do.

3. Mentors are those who possess more experience than you and are committed to helping you grow professionally.

I use color pencils when I ecomap so that each type of person has a different color. Of course, some persons may meet 2 or even 3 of the designations so they end up being multicolored. The goal is to create, and if needed recruit, a full ecomap that encompasses all three types of persons in a quantity that works for your client.

I keep the aspects of ecomaps from the reading identified below with the idea that the impact (positive/ negative) and strength/ strain is held within the parameter of type (i.e., work community of practice, work community of support, mentors) of relationship each person provides:

      1. Positive relationship
      2. Negative relationship
      3. Strong relationship
      4. Strained relationship

This is a super full lesson! There are four key components of the model in this one section, each is a key aspect of helping clients prepare to thrive in the gig economy. Each can take as little as 30 minutes of session time or as much as 5 or 6 appointments. Please remember that I am asking you to adapt or shift your current career practice in meeting the 21st Century needs of your clients so you must make choices on how to adapt these ideas to your practice. 

My dialogue video below will provide some more information to help fill the gaps. It is 28 minutes long which allows us to thoroughly (I hope) demonstrate the ideas and techniques behind this most import phase of the model. Watch it below.


This content rich class session now comes to a close. Lesson 4 and 5 are a bit more celebratory than these first three lessons. We do not move forward in the Surfing Model unless we have accomplished the tasks at hand therefore you will wish to approach lessons 4 and 5 envisioning using them with clients who have successfully navigated the first three lessons.


After you have completed all the requirements, answer items 7-11 on your worksheet, mark the lesson complete, then go to the next lesson.