In Buddhism, essential wisdom or teachings are referred to as the dharma.
The dharma is a tricky thing to explain and truly do it justice, but in essence the dharma provides the framework for Buddhist theology and lays out clear guidelines for how one can live a life that is fully present and awake. I often like to think of the dharma as being a roadmap of sorts, a guide for consultation that helps me navigate with more clarity.
What gets tricky is how we use the dharma–some people read something inspirational and almost immediately start to beat themselves up with it, feeling they’ll never measure up. Others have a clear understanding right away and go straight into arrogance, puffing themselves up with how wonderful it is that they understand that which is so difficult for mere mortals to conceptualize. In Buddhism, you’re encouraged to stay present even to those responses, and use them as a way to get even more present.
“If you find yourself misunderstanding the teachings, the teachings will always show you where you’re off.” –Pema Chodron.
Everything that we experience in our lives can be used in this way–we don’t need to study Buddhist concepts in order to wake up to our patterns.
I started thinking about this in the first place when I saw someone post a link to an article on compassion and how it’s so great to be compassionate–alongside a little dig at the coaching profession.
My first reaction to seeing this was to roll my eyes back into my head at the irony. Before I knew it, I was off spinning my heels about how someone who was displaying such utter lack of compassionate non-judgment was…posting a link that encouraged people to be more compassionate and non-judgmental. Were they even reading the article that they were passing along?
Of course, my very reaction was just a furthering of the cycle–I was hardly feeling compassionate and non-judgmental, myself. What a teachable moment!
I began thinking about how this was an insight I’d gleaned just from seeing someone post a wee little online link–what other opportunities for noticing were presenting themselves, all of the time?
Anything can be an opportunity for more waking up.
If you decide to start a running program, and half of you is always off in the clouds thinking about how amazing people will think you are rather than being present to the experience, that’s your insight.
If you decide to run a business but then falter before you even begin because you “just know” that you’ll fail, that’s your insight.
If you see that woman walk by wearing a halter top that some snarky place inside of you notes she should not be wearing until she gives up carbs and loses fifty pounds–that’s your insight.
We’re constricting ourselves into small mind, or we’re puffing ourselves up with Ego–until we stop, and notice, and become willing to just let the running program be running, the business be business, and that woman’s halter top to be that woman’s halter top.
In essence, we don’t really need to add our own layer of complication.
And when it comes to business? We’d all do well to remember that:
- Compassion is not a tagline, it’s a practice.
- Courage is not a tagline, it’s a practice.
- Kindness is not a tagline, it’s a practice.
- Integrity is not a tagline, it’s a practice.
Let’s all of us, and especially business owners, check our taglines and our about pages and making sure we’re practicing what we’re preaching.
We don’t need the Big Awakening. The spiritual warrior inside of you already has quite the arsenal of spiritual experiences waiting for you, cleverly disguised as being “simple, ordinary life.”
In the moments after I realized I had just made one of those #epicfail internet mistakes, my face was flushed bright red with embarrassment, even though I was sitting quietly in the privacy of my home office.
I’d thought something on my twitter feed was spam, and had said so, and turns out? It was not spam. For that? My apologies to @stilettowoman , who I thought was spamming me, but who was not in fact, spamming me.
But here’s what precipitated my misunderstanding: An overwhelming amount of spam from other people.
Like, spam that has been crazy out of control lately.
We’re talking, “Please, someone, tell me who the ‘marketing expert’ is that’s ruining the internet by telling people to market themselves so badly, so that we can have a chat.”
Behold, then–the Seven Deadly Sins of SPAM
Sin #1: On Twitter (or Facebook), tagging me in a post and then putting a promotional link after it so that I’ll see it. Following someone is not license to flood them directly with promotions, even if they follow you back.
Sin #2: On Facebook walls (or anywhere, but especially there) joining a page and then posting on the wall, “Great to meet you! I’d love to [offer you a free gift; have you come check out my site/wall; some other offer].” Let’s be honest–that person is wanting to promote themselves via someone else’s social media outlet.
Just because they aren’t selling viagra doesn’t mean that it’s not SPAM-tastic.
Alternative: If you really want to connect with someone, start participating–contribute to conversations that are posed on their social media wall, for instance. If someone is interested in what you offer, they will find you.
Sin #3: On Twitter, re-tweeting something that someone else puts out, but then changing the link within the re-tweet before you hit publish, to be a link to your own website. That is some shady shit.
Sin #4: Adding people to an email list without an opt-in. If I’m added to any list without my permission, I will unsubscribe and block.
Sin #5: Stealing someone’s thunder. I haven’t seen this happen to me, but I have seen it happen to others–someone posts about their new e-book or e-course. Then, in the comments under that blog post or Facebook update, someone else comes along and says something that basically amounts to: “Oh, look at ME over here–look at my course! My e-book! You could also buy something from me! Let’s post links to me! Let’s look at this video of me!”
Yes, there is enough to go around–the reason not to post a link to your offering right underneath someone else’s isn’t because we have to have a scarcity complex and “defend our territory” (yikes!). It’s because, well…can the person who did this awesome thing like create an e-book or launch a tele-seminar or whatever just…have their thunder? Like, for that one post?
Sin #6: Using Facebook events features to invite everyone to tele-seminars, e-courses, launches of a new product, etc. If you’re inviting someone to a local, in-person event, weed through your list and include those people who can actually attend because they live locally. Using the “events” feature to mass-invite people to tele-seminars and e-courses and the like has created an effect where I no longer pay attention to the events. I’ve started permanently blocking those, too.
Sin #7: The permanent email auto-responder. Auto-responders are for temporary times where you’re away from email or excessively busy–vacations, product launches, etc. When people create permanent, always-on, forever and always auto-responders, that means that more email pops up in everyone else’s inboxes.
That’s basically creating less email for yourself, at the expense of creating more of it for everyone else. Bad karma.
Why I’m Sharing This
It’s not actually so that I can get all Mean Girls and condescending.
I’m sure I’ve committed my own fair share of faux-pas.
In fact, I’ve thought of writing this post about 100 times before, but then something always stops me, like the fact that we live in a world where
- People don’t have access to clean water;
- Human trafficking is a major problem;
- and the environment is being destroyed;
and then I always think, “Really, Kate? A post devoted to SPAM management? Write about something else.”
I’m finally sharing this because the problem seems to be getting more rampant.
I’m sharing this because I desire to connect with people, and when I’m logging in to social media these days, there’s less of a feeling of connection and more of a feeling of having to weed through SPAM.
I’m sharing this because I’m seeing so much SPAM that I accidentally thought someone was SPAM-ing me, when they weren’t.
I’m sharing this because there are people who genuinely don’t realize that what they’re really doing is sending junk mail, notifications, etc., and it’s negatively affecting their businesses.
Yes–that’s right–for all of that work, it’s negatively affecting businesses.
When I get too many event invites from someone, I block them from sending me anything.
When I get spammed by someone on Twitter, I report them as a spammer to Twitter central.
That’s the opposite of what you want to happen when you’re trying to grow your business.
There’s a reason why so many people are taking digital sabbaticals and deleting social media accounts and opting-out of all email: Because the overwhelm and overload from all of this is turning people off.
So–let’s quit turning people off, shall we? Let’s do something different.
So What Else Do I Do?
I like what Danielle LaPorte says: Radiate.
Or–Create relationships. Contribute to conversations without promotion involved. Just…BE. Be yourself, a human, being a part of something. I’ve become great admirers of many people’s work, that way–because they reached out and connected with me sans promoting themselves to force connection.
Or–Trust. Trust that your business will gain respect and clout without force-feeding anyone anything.
Or–Use lack of momentum as initiative. I know what it’s like to put out a new offering and see it go nowhere. I use that as fuel to make something better, or decide to go in a different direction entirely (better focus = better business).
Some of these suggestions sound like they could only be made by someone who has always done well with her business (laughable idea! Not true! Anyone who has read The Coaching Blueprint knows the story of how I’ve failed and how I’ve course-corrected to create my business differently). I get it–the very last thing you want to do when you really want to see something succeed and every synapse in your brain is saying, “Work harder, promote more, really get going with this, it’s the only way!”
But truth time: there’s a really beautiful overlap between running a business, and your life.
Life + Biz Mirror One Another
Our businesses are our babies. They’re our creations and they’re personal and feel so close to our hearts that we do all sorts of things within them that we would do for our children.
You know how easy it is to judge the over-the-top pageant moms on television, the ones who get in people’s faces, alienate everyone, and push their kids to go on stage even when they’re tired, wearing 100 pounds of makeup?
(Juuuust so we’re clear: I have no opinion about pageants or pageant moms in general; I’m referring specifically to the pretty out-of-control examples I’ve seen on reality TV for the purposes of this example).
Okay–breathe gently–some people are being over-the-top pageant moms with their businesses, complete with getting in people’s faces, alienating, and pushing their (e-books, tele-seminars, etc.) to get up on stage and perform.
They aren’t meaning to. It’s about a burning desire to see something happen.
And…well, if you can see why the over-the-top pageant mom isn’t doing the best thing for her kid, then you know why that route isn’t the best for your business.
Trust, surrender, and acceptance are all great practices for your day-to-day life.
Let those practices infiltrate your biz. Trust me, people will sit up and take notice.
“I’m just trying to help, because I just want what’s best for her/him.”
Hit the pause button on that one.
Take time to ask yourself: Do I really want what’s best for her/him? Or do I want what’s best for me?
“Billy Bob shouldn’t quit his job to start his own business–the economy is in such bad shape! I’m only telling him that because it’s what’s best for him.”
Let’s assume in the above example that Billy Bob has communicated clearly that he is fully behind his decision and has given it critical thought, and that the person making that kind of statement is not sharing any new information–Billy Bob is smart and capable, and he already knows that the economy is in the shitter and that starting his own entrepreneurial shenanigans will be a real challenge.
The speaker, in this case, is not speaking to what is best for Billy Bob.
They’re speaking to what’s best for them.
It’s best for them not to quit their job in this economy. It’s best for them not to feel the discomfort of Billy Bob make choices that are at odds with their own choices.
“Sally Sue shouldn’t be eating XYZ; I’m only trying to tell her what’s best for her so that she doesn’t get cancer or some other terrible disease. I’m only trying to educate people; people just don’t know what they’re doing to their bodies.”
Bzzzzzzzzttt! Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.
Unless Sally Sue has signed up with this person for a consultation, or asked for advice about integrating a particular diet into her own lifestyle, the speaker is speaking to what’s best for them, not what’s best for Sally Sue.
(Note: Bonus points if you already see how people justify these fixed positions by adding in how their way of doing things is right for the planet, for the world, for their religion…etc.)
Here’s my observation: Most people, most of the time, genuinely want to make the “right” choices. They want to eat the “right” things, and do the “right” work, and communicate in the “right” ways. They genuinely desire answers that meet real challenges.
Here’s another: Nine times out of ten, what convinces someone to make a change in their lives is not someone else telling them what’s “right,” so much as it is seeing something within others that is so attractive and magnetic that they say, as did the fellow diner during the best scene in When Harry Met Sally:
“I’ll have what she’s having.”
(Here’s the link to the scene, though note that it’s not work-friendly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-bsf2x-aeE )
If you genuinely believe in your cause, whether it’s a lifestyle change or a new business venture or even a spiritual perspective, try something out: ditch the fear-mongering, or the logical arguments for why you’re so right, or the condescension that others are such “sheep” who can’t see “the truth” and implying that anyone who doesn’t agree is just bleating their way through life…
…try living life your own life fully, because if you do, you’ll radiate.
Not only does it mean that the energy is going where it needs to go–you! your life!–it also means that instead of begging for customers, begging for followers, begging for volunteers… people are likely to be asking you left and right how they can “have what you’re having.”
Then you can tell them, and let them decide. (Trying to convince the dubious only dulls your radiance).
This is also an excellent strategy when you’re not feeling so radiant, and you’re wondering why everything around you seems to be in a slump.
See it with new eyes.
Remember what it was like when you first started.
Adopt “Beginner’s Mind,” the Buddhist perspective for seeing things fresh, new, untested.
By all means–admit the truth when it sucks rather than trying to put a pretty patina over everything–while being willing to reach, stretch beyond that.
What’s Best For You?
Enthusiasm, passion, and being fully behind what you believe in are magnetic–no, they’re beyond magnetic, they’re irresistible.
If you really believe in your great advice or your cause and its potential to help others, and you want to get more people on board, you know what you need to do:
Start with doing what’s best for you.