“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.