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This post was written during early 2010, when I had just made the transition from being a part-time to a full-time coach.
I have a Marketing Guru.
We met by happenstance in the midst of an e-course. We decided to trade coaching for marketing help. And right away, one thing became very clear: I was the coach, helping someone step into BIG living and being seen in their life. And my Marketing Guru became my coach, helping me to step into BIG marketing and being seen in my profession (which is in alignment with my life and thus often feels very much like “my life”).
And really, they are in so many ways the same thing, with the same processes and stumbling blocks. Little brain goes: “I am going to take a risk and do something new that I have never done before, and I’m almost guaranteed to make mistakes and I’ve been taught by most of the people in my life that mistakes are bad. Now what?”
Confession: I have an inner critic that tells me all the time that I am “doing it wrong.”
However, I can comfortably confess that because I know that I’m not alone in that. (P.S. All of you Etsy shop owners, we’re in this together!)
I’ll daresay that for most people, the question of how to get word out about their new business is the most daunting aspect of the new business. I’ve been coaching for years now. I’m excited about it, always learning something new, etc. And when I first began coaching, I worried that I was “doing it wrong” but luckily I had mentors and people around me helping me, giving me feedback (and I still have those people).
My Marketing Guru got me all set up and ready to go and SEO-optimized and full of ideas. That’s as far as she could take me. Now the rest of the work is my own. And, that is also like life–when I work with a coaching client, we can brainstorm, clarify, and be accountable around practices. But ultimately, the client is the one who puts that into practice in their life. At some point, one must risk being seen for who they are and what they stand for.
My experience of “marketing” (a word I still feel a little ick around) is about 10% updating my site or spreading word, and 90% fear of being seen.
Because, ick–being seen can be so uncomfortable. It can be so misinterpreted. It can so often be confused with selling something. And I don’t want to “sell anything” to anyone. I much prefer the idea that I’m offering something and perhaps they like it. And if they don’t, they’ll pass, and that’s cool, too.
Chris Guillebeau once said: “I try to avoid ‘selling’ in general–even though that’s technically what happens with products. Instead of the selling mentality, though, I think more about offering solutions to problems. If someone has a problem and they like my proposed solution, great. If not, I’m not really interested in pressuring them to change their mind.”
Right. What he said. That’s what I want to do.
Except sometimes, the stretch of being seen feels even like that–how much is too much? How often is too often?
I felt super triggered a few weeks ago when someone made a comment on Facebook about someone who marketed themselves too much and too often. I immediately went to a space of, “Oh, gosh, I bet I do that. I bet I’m wrong.” (I’m not suggesting that the person making the comment was wrong–I’m owning that my reaction to reading it was to be triggered, to step into an old habit around thinking I’m fucking it up).
I was able to recognize when I was triggered that that’s what was going on–I was triggered. That’s my work. My responsibility. Not theirs. Also, I still have hangups around self-promotion. Is it fake? Is it cheesy and schmaltzy? Can people tell that when I’m describing The Courageous Year as a really powerful process, I’m really believing that and not just using some ad-lingo that sounded good?
What helped immensely when I was triggered? Recognizing that this was work around fear of being seen, of being too much, of playing life “too big.” Marianne Williamson and the fear of success and no one is served by our playing small. All of that.
My coach routinely says to myself or my partner (whom he also coaches): “Risk annihilation.” The first time I ever told him that I was afraid of, you know, failing and ending up in a cardboard box and all of that, he smiled and said, “So?”
Which sounds looney.
But the thing is, if I’m seriously living my vision for myself, taking risks, and being willing to embrace everything that comes into the circle of my existence rather than picking and choosing (which really amounts to playing it safe), I’m probably going to “fuck it all up.” Except he would rephrase that as simply “learning from life.”
And part of this big vision I have, which is–when I stop to get perspective, also helpful!–is not such a huge massive dream. To do work that I love and support myself? Nah. I’m not exactly re-inventing the wheel, here. People do this. People have done this. People will continue to do it.
Where are the scariest places in your life for you to “be seen” for who you are? Is there anything that you would like to do, but that you avoid for fear of being seen (i.e., in a business, in relationships)? Any other small business or Etsy shop owners out there who know what I’m talking about with this marketing stuff? And how do you deal with the days when you worry about being seen?
“What people think” can be my kryptonite. When I’m working my tools, I am in the flow of my life, barring the usual life challenges that arise from time to time.
And, like most people–things happen that throw me off game. Perhaps it’s because I’m not taking the necessary time for self-care. Perhaps it’s because it’s an errant week and the stars are not aligned. Who knows? Whatever it is, the old patterns arise and I find myself going back into caring what other people think.
When it comes to change, there is usually one thing that is your kryptonite, that diminishes your superpowers. While you’re in the process of change, there’s this in-between place while we’re still figuring it all out that can be like straddling two worlds–I invoke the metaphor of one foot on the boat and one foot on the dock. When it comes to your kryptonite, one foot is on the dock and it’s the “old you” getting sucked in by the “old pattern.” Another foot is on the boat, wanting to set sail, knowing that something bigger awaits but feeling uncertain about whether the boat is actually seaworthy.
Declarations in the face of kryptonite can be powerful. Here are a few that I’ve made, related to fears or old patterns of limitation that I’ve had:
Happiness isn’t selfish.
It is a courageous thing to bypass the drama and snarck and willingly embrace happiness in a world that is just jumping to sell me on yet another problem that I could spend money to “solve.”
It’s not faking anything to embrace happiness, even if I don’t have all the cogs figured out just yet.
You make these declarations to yourself while you navigate that in-between space of not knowing what awaits you on the horizon.
Truly happy people don’t have everything figured out, and they don’t pretend not to feel emotions like anger or judgement or sadness. They resist buying into a collective consciousness that is, at times, hell-bent on martyrdom, drama, victimization, and bonding over negativity and putting others down rather than something that connects us positively and builds each other up.
Kryptonite + Courage
This is the great thing about kryptonite–when you really face it, it turns out that it’s just a basically pretty fake looking green stone used as a prop on the movie set of an equally as fake story about a superhero.
What’s your kryptonite? What do you notice causes you to shrink?
And perhaps more importantly, what’s your declaration?
A few years ago, I began a practice that would radically alter my life: appreciations.
I stopped assuming that people in my life knew how I felt about them.
I stopped assuming that someone knew that I valued their time, their work, their input.
I stopped assuming that the cashiers or the sales workers on the floor didn’t need to hear my sincere thank-you, because after all, it was “their job.”
I stopped assuming that the people I randomly interacted with who had beautiful smiles or a fun outfit knew that they looked fantastic.
I stopped assuming that the mothers who were taking care of kids walked with a belief that of course they were good mothers, of course they were doing a great job with their kids.
So I stepped into a practice of appreciations.
It felt incredibly strange at first–oddly, my biggest fear that kept me from wanting to make the appreciation was a fear that the person was thinking I was kissing up or just trying to get something out of them. But I tried it a few times and noticed how the person’s face would just light up entirely (usually), and I liked that moment of connection. I grew up watching my Dad chat up cashiers–he would always ask how much time they had left at work, and ask how they were doing in such a sincere way, and I noticed that it made it such a nice experience.
Working with the Challenge Day organization has reinforced this all the more–co-founders Rich and Yvonne encourage people to ask strangers, “What are you grateful for?” or “What’s your biggest dream?”
Asked with a simple, casual and conversational tone, these needn’t be questions that are “too deep” for everyday conversation, but rather quick questions that can inspire this little hit of connection between people.
Who’s the first person you would like to acknowledge, and what would you like to say? Do you notice a difference in your day if you make interactions with the more “casual relationships of your day,” like cashiers or service staff, more personal?
Click to tweet: Practice radical and abundant appreciation.