“So what do you want to revolutionize, in the world?”
I’ve asked this question in one-on-one strategy sessions, in marketing seminars, in small groups. Sometimes I vary the flavor: “What do you want your clients to shift the most?” I’ll ask, or I’ll go for the big vision. “What’s one thing that, if everyone in the world started to practice this or do this differently, the whole world would be different?”
I meet so many people who are wise, articulate, genuine. They’re the types of friends you call when you need a good listener, the kind who’s going to be a champion for you doing what’s right for you. Coaching seems like such a natural fit.
But…things keep stalling. Blogging is inconsistent. There’s resistance to getting a newsletter going or expanding beyond Facebook for social media.
And underneath that, over and over, what I hear is:
“I don’t know what to say.”
Not blogging regularly? “I couldn’t figure out what to write [vlog, record an audio, put up a picture, interview someone else] about.”
Not getting a newsletter? “If people want to hear from me, wouldn’t they go to my website? They know I’m there.”
Not being on Twitter? “Ugh, I hate social media. It’s such a time suck. I don’t even like Facebook.”
Conviction. n. a strong persuasion or belief; the state of being convinced (Merriam-Webster online dictionary).
Critical to success in business? Having a conviction that is of service to others.
Tara Gentile isn’t just some business consultant. She has a conviction about how we create businesses that provide genuine value. Everything about what Tara offers stands out because she eats books on biz for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and geeks out on talking strategy. That’s passion that translates to conviction.
Alexandra Franzen isn’t just another copywriter. She has a conviction about the power of the written word and how we use that for, as she puts it, “ecstatic self-expression.” Everything about what Alex offers stands out because she has…you got it: a position that she explores, a conviction about what’s possible when people liberate themselves through words.
Anna Guest-Jelley, the founder of Curvy Yoga, isn’t just another yoga teacher. She has a conviction about how to make yoga available to people of all body shapes, especially those who are traditionally ignored in yoga classes. Everything about Anna stands out because–and she’s not a raging extrovert, screaming her opinions–she has a conviction about what yoga can be for people and how she can be of service.
Tara, Alex, and Anna are just three examples. Most importantly, they’re examples of people who are so passionate about their convictions that it’s like they almost can’t help themselves. They have something to say, and they want to say it to as many people as possible, for the good of all.
They want to get inside it. They want to explore it from every angle. They don’t need to shout it, but the courage of conviction is so present that it weaves a thread through all of their work.
Conviction Can’t Be Cherry-Picked
I wake up from dreams where my muse has said something to me that I have to write down. I pull over to the side of the road about once a week to record a blog post idea into my iPhone. I think about courage and fear every single day–and that is no joke. I go to workshops. I order $100 worth of books every other month from Amazon. “Courageous” is tattooed in sanskrit on my shoulder. Conversations with friends become the material for my next video.
Oh, there’s a wait at the restaurant before they can seat us at a table? Let me check what my peeps are doing on Twitter. If I’m on Google chat with Brigitte Lyons or eating macrobiotic soup with Valerie Tookes? We might start out with details on our latest cycling adventure or a trip to India, but at some point, it’s inevitable that we are going to be talking about the next course we want to run and the sales pages we’re working on.
My convictions about the importance of people practicing courage are not just the work I sit down to; they’re my living, breathing life.
Lacking conviction is a sign–a big one–that something is off.
Most “business marketing how-to” teaches people how to articulate their conviction. There’s an assumption that the conviction is there in the first place and it just has to be worded correctly for the market.
But here’s the thing: some people are actually going into business, but lacking conviction. The conviction drives the machine. It’s everything.
Conviction can’t be cherry-picked; it’s etched in your soul. When you’ve got something big to share with the world, things can get a little compulsive (see above).
If you’re lacking conviction and are chronically unsure of what you want to say, this prompts a difficult question:
Despite all the promises of money (ha!) and glamour (ha!), is entrepreneurship really the best match for the gifts you have to offer?
What Really Lights Your Fire?
I’m not speaking to the people came out of the womb knowing that they were always meant to be the Boss Lady, and they just need some help getting the wording right.
I’m talking to the people who are smart, savvy, loyal, in-integrity women who have a lot to share, but if they were 100% honest? Entrepreneurship and its lifestyle is not (really-really and truly-truly) their yen. They might not have even considered other alternatives.
Sometimes, entrepreneurship is something that people turn to when they are trying to flee a job they don’t like, to feel empowered and call the shots, to try and strike it rich from the comforts of their own homes.
There’s nothing wrong with leaving shitty jobs, calling the shots, or striking it rich.
Something is definitely wrong with choosing entrepreneurship as the medium, simply because you’re assuming that this is the only place where you can do work that lights you up.
Love for the Wing-Women
Lots of people need smart, savvy, in-integrity, loyal, hardworking wing-women.
Wing-Women aren’t necessarily the innovators or the visioneers on the front lines, but they have a shit-ton of heart and soul and they’re exactly who you want on your team.
The same skills they might otherwise apply to coaching (listening, being a champion of taking right action, offering insights, asking great questions that expand the work) could be just as valued in a working collaboration with someone else. They are co-conspirators, so to speak.
It’s not that they aren’t on the front lines because they can’t be, it’s that they know that being wing-women is what makes them come fully alive in the same way that neurotic entrepreneurs light up at the thought of registering a new domain name.
Astonishing truth: entrepreneurship is not the answer for everyone.
We live in a culture that lights the fireworks for the pioneers who stick their necks out first, without acknowledging that for every one visible risk-taker, there are a hundred people who supported and nourished that person to flourish.
There are a hundred other ways to engage with something you’re passionate about, other than starting a business and bringing into your life the tasks that it can entail to make things work and get off the ground.
To know if you’re on the right track, know what your convictions are, and let them lead the way, center-stage.
When’s the last time you had a truly courageous conversation? One that wasn’t about…trying to get somewhere? Trying to appear a certain way? Trying to “work on” something?
I noticed myself feeling this craving to connect with more people, one-on-one, and to have those connections being less about a task at hand, and more about…just talking. I want to talk beyond social media, beyond Skype, and beyond the necessity of setting up a retreat space to make a conversation happen.
Can it just be as simple as…let’s have dinner?
Courageous Conversations: The Dinner Series
Kansas City, Missouri, Thursday June 20th, 7:30pm.
This is going to be a conversation–not a sales pitch.
This is not an evening where you need to “work on yourself,” nor will it be an evening of internet marketing hype.
This is an evening about friendship, community, and pure pleasure.
Let’s make this simple: a dinner. Up to 10 women who want to have a courageous conversation, the kind where the good food and good wine flow, where simply sharing our stories and connecting are at the heart of our evening.
I’ve had a craving for meeting people–people like you–in person and without needing to set up a course, a retreat, a workshop, a teleseminar, etc., etc., etc., in order to do it.
I’ve had a craving for the simplicity of connection, without the production. That’s why I’m traveling to a few select cities in 2013.
Our dinner will be held in the downtown Kansas City area (the specific location will be given to participants privately).
Cost: $45, not to pay me for anything, but simply to streamline the payment process when the bill arrives that evening and tip our waiter or waitress handsomely. To join us, click the button below.
“We are joy. There’s nothing you need to do, to be joyful. Just allow it and be.”
Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm…
This sort of statement makes me crinkle my nose a bit.
On a core level, of course this is true. The endless striving to “get” somewhere takes us further from the joy that we really are, inherently. It’s resistance against life that causes suffering; acceptance is joy and peace. Just breathe and be, and you access joy.
…everything within me also sees that spiritual concepts must have practical applications to life and living.
Some people actually need to “do” something in order to get themselves out of their suffering, and in touch with their joy.
They need to…make different choices. Or investigate the fundamental truth of long-held belief systems and see if it’s time to drop them. Or sit in silence, connecting with the Now. Or call up their parents and apologize. Or quit their jobs. Or quit complaining. Or…well, it’s different for everyone, and no one has your answer. That’s where it feels tricky.
Joy doesn’t “happen to” you. It’s not out there, floating around in the ether, waiting to land. Nor is it something you can wring your hands to get, trying to be perfect and make all of the perfect choices.
Joy is cultivated.
Click to tweet that: http://clicktotweet.com/ddzek
“Being at one with what is doesn’t mean you no longer initiate change or become incapable of taking action,” writes Eckhart Tolle, in A New Earth, and later he describes the concept of “awakened doing.”
“Awakened doing is the alignment of your outer purpose–what you do–with your inner purpose–awakening and staying awake.” –Echkart Tolle
He describes how people in the state of “awakened doing” are, in fact, active. They’re making choices that cultivate joy. Those choices include bringing oneself back to presence or practicing/choosing acceptance of what-is. Not attaching to a result? Also helpful.
I can’t help but go to gardening metaphors, here–the seed, with all its potential, neither good nor bad but life inherent, needing conditions that cultivate its growth. Moisture, light, air, are necessary, and not battery acid dumped into the soil, not pulling up the seed and re-potting it every few days, not trampling the progress made with a heavy boot.
Overwork and over-commitment, numbing out with substances (including excessive caffeine, sugar, or wine), a constant litany of judgments that block you from seeing the good, making choices that keep you from being well-rested…all of these are the equivalent of pouring battery acid on the soil, creating conditions where it’s pretty much impossible for life to thrive.
How often do we make choices that make it nearly impossible for joy to thrive?
We connect to the joy within us when we make choices that are conducive to cultivating joy. Most of those choices have to do with releasing the things that get in the way of the joy, and that’s what I mean when I say that joy is cultivated.
Joy doesn’t happen “over there.”
Joy doesn’t arrive after you’re “fixed.”
Joy isn’t what you get after you’re “good enough.”
Joy is what you are–and–most people have enough baggage layered over that, that it’s time to make different choices, choices that cultivate joy, providing fertile ground for it to happen and for you to thrive in your life.
Clarifying the Joyful Choice
Here’s one question to ask yourself: What are the top 3 choices that you make, on a regular basis, that keep you from accessing the joy that you are and living from your joy?
Write them down, post it somewhere visible, and consider for the next week how different life looks if you make even slightly different choices in those areas.
The tricky point is not to attach to results or outcomes as you make different choices. Attachment to getting a joyful result is just another barrier to joy.
Joy isn’t what you get to experience after you “do all of the right stuff to get to the joy.”
To understand that there’s nothing more to strive for is a great relief, for most of us–but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be challenging choices, ahead.
I posit that there are choices to be made. Some of them can feel really, really tough. There are things that you can do, shift, or change that make an actual, tangible difference in our lives and the lives of others. Cultivating joy is one choice among many.
So what choice will you make, today?