Today’s quickie is a video of me blabbing a little about using the tool from Access Consciousness of asking questions and how they open possibility and have been help me a lot with my money and self-confidence. After the vid you’ll find a handy list of the questions I’ve put together that are rocking my world right now. And as a special Happy Sunday present for you, I’ve also made an audio file (at the bottom of the post) you can listen to and/or download of me reading the questions, so you can just have them in the background, meditate to them, or fall to sleep listening to them.
I’m sorry that the concept of niche has been taken over by the marketing world, because it’s so much more than “targeting” a “segment” of the “market” so you can sell more.
Niche is an ecological term that means the place in the entire ecosystem where an organism belongs, because it’s part of a bigger picture in which everything thrives in its place and in turn makes it possible for everything else to thrive.
It’s about interdependence, not domination or trickery.
The concept of ecological niche is illustrative of my deeply held belief – in fact it’s a knowing, and I’m sure you have it, too – that everything has a place, and that this ecosystem called life is perfectly designed already.
Where we get confused and muddled is when we don’t understand anything about our “place.” What benefit we bring, why it matters that we’re here, how we contribute to the wellness of everything, how we need everything around us, and how, to quote Jim Hightower, “Everybody does better when everybody does better.”
Instead, we worry about whether we’re good enough, whether anyone loves and accepts us, whether we can finally be enough and somehow eradicate our seemingly never-ending self-doubt and insecurity. And then we wonder why we can’t get customers, why no one comes back, why our titles and modalities don’t impress people.
Do you think a lichen sits there and says, “Love me! I’m a lichen! I’m the best lichen! Please love me!” No. A lichen establishes its place and covers a rock, turns an indescribable color, spreads a soft cushion over the earth, releases incomparable freshness into the air, provides nourishment for the creatures nearby, and invites wonder. It does its thing. It’s tiny, but irreplaceable.
Sit still. Stop flailing. Take a whole day and see if you can just be yourself without striving for anything, without needing to be filled, validated, approved of, liked or understood. Then tell me: Who’s beating you up? Who’s not approving of you? Who won’t accept you and your gifts? Where is all this insecurity coming from? And most importantly –
Why are you feeding it?
There are such bigger, more urgent things to heal than our insecurities. Believe me, I’m qualified to say this, because I’ve spent an inordinate proportion of my life feeding the belief that I don’t measure up. (Unless I live to 120.)
More than anything, I want to help you get into serving powerfully and get out of needing validation from outside yourself.
We need your gifts now.
And your niche is the place where you give your gifts the most powerful, effective and natural way, where you stop flailing and just be, and where you really understand your place in the bigger scheme.
And that’s how, in a holistic business, from an energetic perspective niche becomes, not a place, but a process, the channel through which your gifts are transmitted to the people who need them the most. In service, not through manipulation. With grace and groundedness, fully aware of the scale and scope, which, while seemingly tiny, is exactly, exactly right.
And isn’t that what you’ve been yearning for this whole time?
To get there, to understand your place, your niche, requires you to think in terms of whom you are serving and how you are helping them. Most importantly, to operate from your niche and be of powerful service, you get to bring your whole self, not just your titles, credentials and training. You get to bring your personal healing journey, because that’s what’s made you who you are as a healer.
Look around at your community. What is needed? Whom does your heart go out to, because you’ve been there? If you’ve been there and if you’ve gotten to a better place, maybe an okay place – not perfect, but okay – can’t you serve in some way?
Do you see how taking the focus off what you do and placing it on whom you serve out of your own healing and expertise as a person, changes everything? Opens up new possibilities?
It means you get to be creative, unique and, well, YOU.
And haven’t you been yearning for that, too?
Wherever you are in your business and your life, how is the best way to Love Yourself Forward today?
I’m starting a guided mastermind group with live human beings who have signed up to join me in physical space. These people are working on a project or a business and themselves, and I’ve managed to convince them that I can help them.
The group is starting tomorrow. Yesterday, just to refresh my memory, so long has it been since inception to launch, I re-read all my promo materials. I saw in the videos and posts that I appear to know what I’m talking about. But I’ve never run a mastermind, and I’ve never succeeded in business. I just really believe in myself.
I have a counseling degree, and I dub myself a behavioral pragmatist because of the work I do as an occupational therapist. Between the two types of experience, plus the fact that I’m an INFJ, I’m a quick sizer-upper and I can identify a pivot point like nobody’s business.
A pivot point is basically the place where making a change will have the greatest impact on the whole. But my biggest asset has developed quite recently, in fact, in the face of starting this group.
Long ago, I quit college in order to write. I hadn’t yet developed my super-power of hearing the ring of truth and the thud of self deception, so I accepted that story and expected everyone else to, too. Mostly I wanted them to leave me alone about it. Eventually, of course, they did.
But inside, I felt completely unequal to this thing called life. I was sure I couldn’t make it in academia (I’m still sure, but for an entirely different reason.) I didn’t know the first thing about writing, publishing, or any of that. I just wanted to dream about doing it.
And I wanted to live. I actually wanted to work my shitty job in Kenmore Square, Boston, slinging coffee, sandwiches, cigarettes and lottery tickets to every single person in the city, collect a modest paycheck and hang out with my friends drinking and making up songs. It was the first time I’d had fun since, well, ever.
At the start of this new year, I said this would be the year I would have success in my business. By that I meant I’d put out another book (in progress) and do something in real time with real people using my skills, enjoying myself and helping them have better lives, and get paid for it. The first thing I encountered, although it took me a while to recognize it, so familiar to me, so “home,” was that 21-year-old college drop-out who still felt unequal to this thing called life.
What I had to do was finally take care of her. I had to listen to her, and I had to pay attention to those feelings. I had to see how far down those roots had grown, how that one moment of failure and withdrawal had colored so many decisions and failures to make decisions. How I’d labored under the reality that “I won’t be able to do this.”
I faced the fact that many of the things I’ve tried to do in the intervening years have been to compensate for this feeling. They haven’t, because nothing can. There is nothing and no one who can compensate for a feeling inside me of being less-than.
I did some serious crying and spent days with puffy eyes and ragged hair, living this reality down to its core: “I can’t. I’m scared. I’m all alone. I’m going to fail miserably. No one will care.”
I had to appreciate that what I’d been through without having the capacity to acknowledge it, name it, or deal with it in any sort of healthy way, was real. That it colored everything, my love-hate relationship with money, my approach-avoidance with work, success, fulfillment, and identity. That it was still hanging out, waiting to be taken care of. In many ways, I’ve been that 21-year-old all this time, through great ideas, failed ideas and many, many cheap business cards.
As winter turned to spring, I came to a pivot point. I was acutely and painfully aware of the limitations I’ve placed on myself out of a deep-seated feeling of inadequacy. I also started owning that I’ve longed for someone else to come along and tell me who I am and what I’m good at. I’ve hoped that fate or luck would place things in my path to nudge me one way or the other so I wouldn’t have to make a choice for myself, because obviously, I wouldn’t be able to make a good one.
It became obvious that the healing thing would be for me to choose something that my gut said I would be equal to, that I cared about, that would be worth succeeding at, and then do my best to make it happen.
So, I had the idea of the mastermind, and I started before I could talk myself out of it. I set a price that felt fair. Instead of discounts I gave bonuses. I created videos, blog posts and emails. I used all my social media and real life connections. I’ve actually enjoyed telling people about it, because I believe in it. I made calls, I talked with people and helped them come to a decision. I listened to concerns and answered them. I put it out there, again and again, with ease. I’ve had people sign up and pay deposits. They’ve all agreed to be there.
Today’s anxiety is understandable. I’m a seat-of-the-pantser. I don’t know until I do know what the moment will call for and what’s going to come out of my mouth. I’ve prepared some ideas, of course, but I’ve left plenty of room for the unknown. That kind of open-endedness nearly kills me. What if there’s a giant gulf between their expectations and what I have planned to deliver?
Here’s what if: No matter what happens, I’ll work with it. Because that’s my job. From the beginning of the idea until 1 p.m. tomorrow, it’s been about me filling a group. From 1 p.m. on, it’s about them. I’ve done my work. I have nothing to prove. I did my best, and I’ll continue to do my best, because that’s who I am, and because I believe in what I’m doing. I learned that in self-healing school: The best thing you can do for your own self confidence is to believe in what you’re doing.
For someone who always secretly hoped I’d fail early so I wouldn’t fail publicly, this is gold. This is growth. I’ll be okay. And then I’ll go on to the next idea, and I’ll have no trouble marketing that one, either, because it will never again be about proving myself so much as it will be about standing for something. And that, I can do.
Call us flitters, hummingbirds, butterflies, recovering failures, neurotics, highly sensitive, multiply talented under-achievers, people with low self esteem, poor self confidence, people who are not measuring up, people who feel they should be doing something else – Call us what you will, that long, straight, steep path to success is not ours.
Not only is our path circuitous, spirally and meandering, but our successes are different, too.
We are the people who struggle to give ourselves the time and space to write, draw, dance, sketch out a blog design, script a podcast, or develop a recipe. We think we should already know how, or that it’s already too late. We can’t decide which creative impulse to listen to, which is more important, and, yes, which has the best chance of delivering us from our low achieving nosedive.
We don’t believe in ourselves because clearly we are flighty, inconsistent, commitment-phobes. We don’t buckle down, except if we get totally obsessed, and then we won’t stop working to eat, sleep or interact with our loved ones. When we’re done obsessing, we go back to wandering around sighing, weighted down by our unfulfilled potential.
We are folks who really, really want something, but damned if we can tell you what it is. We just know we burn for it.
So we go on earning our paycheck or mopping up the latest oopsie of our topsy-turvy lives. We try to come to center by stilling the voice of discontent in our hearts, when what we should do is stop and listen to it.
Our purpose quest looks a lot like that parable of the three people who’ve never seen an elephant standing in a room with their eyes closed discovering this huge creature that stands before them and trying to come to agreement on what it is. We are all three of those people: heart, mind and soul.
Rather than getting caught up in which one is right, don’t worry what the whole thing looks like or what it’s called. Just trust your senses and give it your own name. When we name some tiny aspect of it, that’s a success.
When we allow ourselves to actually do something we love to do, that’s a success.
When we pay attention to our curiosity, allowing ourselves to fall in love with one more thing, that’s a success.
When we switch from using others’ benchmarks on the path to mastery to using our own, surveying our inner landscape with compassion, seeing it for what it is, not for what it isn’t, that’s a success.
When we acknowledge the harmful things we are not doing, that’s a success. Any time we pass up the opportunity to indulge in self destructive behaviors, we should stand and cheer, even if our cat thinks we’re crazy. (Even if you don’t stand and cheer, your cat thinks you’re crazy, so you might as well stand and cheer.)
Here are a few of my success benchmarks that I’m sharing with you so that I remember to acknowledge them more often:
Each day clean is a successful day.
Each time I acknowledge another human being’s humanity, I succeed in making myself more human.
Each time I sit down to write, draw or pick up a drum, I succeed in taking myself seriously.
Each time I draw a boundary around my creative time and keep it, I teach others to take me seriously.
Each time I represent myself honestly and resist the urge to package myself differently so I feel more definable, presentable and finished, I succeed in diminishing the shame that threatens to diminish me.
How about you? What are some of your unique and personal definitions and benchmarks of success?
Next week: The number one antidote to your creative quagmire: Make space in your life for you.
Until then, I hope you’ll consider joining my mailing list by using the links to the right, subscribing to this blog via email, also to the right, leaving a comment, and sharing this or other posts that have touched you.