As I got ready to wind down 2013, I was noticing that there were a few things I learned over the year. I thought I would share them with you:
- Your Mess IS Your Message, but it AIN’T all there is to say! When someone is wondering how to expand their business, it is often suggested that they add “speaker” to their business card and start standing on the stage, giving speeches. On the heels of that suggestion is the now-cliche’ statement, “Make your mess your message.” The reason they say that is because it is always more convincing to a listener (or a reader) if you speak about (or write about) what you know, what you have experienced for yourself. However, what I’m seeing happening is that people are developing ONE speech that they give over and over and over and omg-shoot-me-please-if-I-have-to-sit-through-this-damn-speech-one-more-time-over. Speeches should be at least inspirational or educational. If they’re also entertaining and varied, that is an added bonus. If your speech is the same speech every single time and it is solely focused on your mess and how you got out of that mess, you’re not ready to be a speaker. If your speech does not entertain, inspire, or educate then you’re wasting your breath and everyone’s time.
- Everyone has a book inside them. Another thing that is popular in the “grow your business” talk is to suggest that the entrepreneur write a book. Someone who is an eloquent speaker may not be an eloquent writer. Just because someone wants to write a book, does not mean it’s going to be easy or that the manuscript that pours out of them will be worthy of printing. Writing a book is not as easy as it sounds. Writing a good book is even harder. This process requires you to be open to feedback and sometimes that feedback sounds like… Uh, ye-eah… I’m thinking that you need to start over from scratch. None of this makes sense. Writing a book can become laborious and if you’re hating the process, it’ll be obvious when it’s in print. If you’re going to write a book, work with someone who has written a book. Hire a coach. Hire a designer. Hire a trained copyeditor (not just sweet Aunt Mary who loves to read good books and will edit your book for free). Allow people to read it. And, for godssake, get some big kid panties for the entire process because it’ll reach inside you and stir things up pretty good.
- If you don’t know how to do it, someone does. People often figure out, finally, after a lot of struggling, that they don’t know how to do something really, but they persist in figuring out a work-around. This work-around takes many, many hours while someone who was actually trained in this kind of work could do it in under an hour. When the person finally relents and hires someone who really knows what they’re doing, they often aren’t really willing to receive the help or release the project into another’s care. They persist in telling their new helper how to do it, how it should look, and how long they “think” it should take an expert to do the project. They will ask things like, “Can’t you just make his ear smaller?” or “Can’t you just erase part of that?” or “What if you just put a text box right here…” The word “just” is a major player in their requests, indicating that they really have no clue what it really takes to do what they are asking to be done. This is a common occurrence in the fields I specialize in – book development and design/layout. When you hire an expert to support you, let them do their job and resist the temptation to tell them how it should be done. There’s a really good chance that they know what they’re doing, given that they are an expert.
- Salt Lake City is a pretty small pond. Even with a population of around 200k, it is still a really small pond. When you add specialized interest groups – like empowering women, conscious thinking, LGBT – and jump into those ponds, then the water is really shallow and the pond is about the size of a kiddie pool. I think I’ve known this for a long time, but I had forgotten. In the last quarter of 2009, I made a very conscious choice to not be involved in any sort of community. In 2013, I started venturing out into seminars, events, workshops, and mastermind groups again. I was once again reminded that the same fishies travel the same bodies of water. If you want to be a “stand out” in your area of expertise, ya gotta be willing to jump out of the common watering holes and seek new ponds.
- There’s no way I’m gonna make it through this. This lament is most frequently a worrisome falsehood. When you’re brokenhearted, sick for the 85th time in one year, passing kidney stones, having a baby, filing for divorce or bankruptcy, or any other sort of life-changing experience, the fears can be pretty big and make you want to hide. When this sentence is used at the time when your daughter, son-in-law, grandson, and five grand-dogs were all killed in one swift auto accident, it is a viable possibility, but in the end, it still proves false. Every experience is merely a snapshot of the whole picture and you have only a smidgeon of the information available. Breathe. You’ll make it through.
- Everything can be shifted if you take a breath. Now.
I always welcome your thoughts, questions, and comments.
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