There’s a conversation I’ve been having with myself and others. I’ve been stuck on it for a while, and I’m aware that I’ve been stuck on it.
Even with everything I’ve been able to accomplish to this point, I’ve become increasingly dissatisfied with my work life. And I’d like to shift the ratio from 80/20 client/me to 80/20 me/client.
I remind myself that my business is self-funded, and bootstrapped, and I must do whatever it takes to keep it afloat. And that might mean working long hours and making certain sacrifices.
I’m also aware that the conversation itself is entirely in the realm of survival. Survival is instinct, and there’s nothing wrong with it, but it does cause a certain malady I like to call solution blindness. Symptoms may include feeling stuck, aversion to trying new things, and missing opportunities that are right under your nose.
I shared my predicament with one of the leaders in the leadership program I’m taking, and they offered an answer I hadn’t heard yet.
It wasn’t around social media, or SEO, or building an SMS list, or some other digital marketing tactic.
They simply said:
Uncover what’s authentic to you and highlight that because that’s what people will be drawn to.
I wasn’t expecting that answer. It caught me off guard. It drew me right out of the recurring conversation I’d been having.
Yes, some people have a marketing problem. Some have a sales problem. Some have a trust, credibility, authority problem.
But some just need to know and to be who they are. Because being who they are would attract the right audience.
I show up every day to produce the best possible work I can.
I am aware that, at times, I am not doing my best work. I rarely think what I produce is total hogwash, but on my off days, I can see that what I’m creating is “great adjacent.”
As I gather feedback on what I think has the potential to change people’s lives, I’m seeing that it’s not quite doing what I hoped it would. At least, not yet.
I can accept that I’m still developing it. I haven’t published it in an official capacity. But it’s disappointing to see that it isn’t quite finding resonance yet.
And this is where I’ve landed on this:
I feel like others possess a superpower I don’t, which is self-awareness. Maybe there’s a separate term for what I’m thinking of – I’m not quite sure what it is right now – but I’m not just talking about the psychological definition of self-awareness, which is your actions, thoughts, and emotions relative to your own standards. I’m talking about how you show up in the world.
I feel like others are far more aware of how they’re showing up. Meanwhile, I don’t know if I’m coming across energetic or tired in a video until I’ve filmed myself and watched the footage.
I might need you to tell me when what I’m sharing is showing up as authentic or inauthentic. I honestly can’t tell. I might need you to tell me when my content sucks and when it doesn’t. I can’t tell.
And if there’s a secret to self-awareness, I would love to know. I have very little if any of it.
You can live life on your own terms. It doesn’t matter at all what’s going on around you.
Your day may be booked with back-to-back meetings.
You may have 5,000 words of copy to submit to your client by end of day.
You may need to wake up at 5:30 AM, get your kids ready for school, head off to a job you don’t like, pick up your kids from school, and work on your business at night.
It makes no difference whatsoever.
It’s up to you how you show up. It’s up to you what you show up to. Your participation is yours to cause.
Of course, do what you’ve committed to. Keep your word. Follow through.
If you don’t intend to, get into conversation with the people who will be affected. Acknowledge why you’re not coming. Take a moment to understand the impact it will have on the stakeholders and take full responsibility for it. Do right by them.
Not doing this will erode your confidence. You’ll begin to second guess yourself. And that’s a negative spiral you can’t allow into your life. You want to be the first person who speaks up when it seems like the least comfortable.
But even the impossible will seem possible when you’re present and in the moment.
Even when you’re double booked, you’ll find a way to make it work.
Even if you’re driving while the meeting is happening (not recommended), there’s a way to participate in the conversation that’s unfolding.
You think you can only do one thing at a time, in an orderly, sequential fashion. And it’s categorically not how successful people operate. They’re out making a mess while you’re trying to get all your ducks in a row.
You assume that juggling a full schedule would be stressful. But it’s the opposite – it’s exhilarating!
You believe that it takes a long time to coach someone or to help them understand where you’re coming from. It doesn’t. If you’re straight, direct, and authentic, the conversation doesn’t have to last for hours. You can lead someone to a meaningful solution. You can create a connection. Transformation is now.
Nothing takes time. Time is an illusion. Overwhelm is an illusion. Everything is in the moment.
“They’re two different songs. Somewhere in between, you took a pitstop. Why the pitstop? You don’t need it.”
I shared two different versions of a song with a friend. One from over 10 years ago. The other I’ve been developing over the course of the last couple of months.
Obviously, a gap of 10 years is substantial. But that’s not really what he was pointing to.
He could feel the raw, visceral energy of the original. Which seemed to be lacking in the latest version, which had obviously been filtered through the opinions of others.
One version offered an authentic experience of the song. The other didn’t.
The rational, logical mind can serve us well in certain situations, especially in situations that require the evaluation of data and analytics.
But what about creativity? What about artistic success?
If your creativity is filtered through others, sure, it might find a bigger audience, but is that artistic success?
If you give yourself without holding back, that is an artistic success all its own. It’s a true, authentic reflection of your personal expression. Others be damned.
No, one is not wrong and the other right. You can apply the thoughts and opinions of others to your creativity. But don’t expect it to have the energy of the original.
Everything you say is significant and nothing is a throwaway.
Yet, we tend to run past important matters all the time.
That’s the nature of most conversations. We jump from one topic to another depending on what another says. A makes us think of B, and X reminds us of Y. A familiar, automatic dialog ensues. So, we end up having the same conversations because every time X comes up, we remember to talk about Y.
“I really don’t like living here…”
Sounds like a throwaway phrase in an ordinary conversation, but it’s anything but. There is something behind that statement. Something you’re not admitting to yourself or anyone else. An opportunity to come clean and discover what you’re really thinking and feeling.
You’re running past critical conversations that need to be had. Staying with these conversations would cause you to see what’s there. It would have you seeing and admitting inauthenticity.
When we run past these conversations, we miss the opportunity to be authentic. And people aren’t touched, moved, or inspired by anything less than authenticity. If you’re missing inspiration in your life, it could be that you haven’t been very authentic lately.