You must find a way to get positive, and remain positive, for yourself and others. You also need to stay fresh and unsullied by ideas not in tune with your own.
Writing my book, I have been taking the advice that I give all my author clients: I am not reading any blogs, articles or books, nor watching any videos or having any conversations with others on this topic of carving out your own space. Unplug, unfollow, unfriend and even block if necessary. The most important thing is that you don’t allow your own confidence and self-worth to falter, as you need to keep adding value and inspiring others.
Your self-worth allows you to create more and more value in the world, and other people can feel it. It’s a tangible thing. It feeds everything else. It is the light in your eyes, and the energy that people feel when you interact with them. This is what needs to be protected. Your great feelings about and confidence in yourself and your special value. Everything else is secondary.
Marketing and promotion should be whatever you need and want it to be for your business and your brand. People will find you. Those folks that you are meant to work with will gravitate to you as a result of you sharing your best ideas, untainted and un-influenced by everything and everyone else.
Keep yourself pure – that’s what I said to my friend, the one who was getting upset as she kept looking at what everyone else was doing. Pure means your own original, special uniqueness can shine through. Is it possible that it could sound “similar” to someone else’s message? Of course it is. However, that should not stop you trying to create and deliver your best stuff.
Time to improve your thinking
There is a book called Time to Think, written by Nancy Kline, and an entire school of thought and material based on the book. I purposely haven’t ever read the book, much as I was tempted to. But I felt I needed to practice what I preach, as described earlier
in the book, and keep my own thinking “pure”. I do intend to read the book at some point and find out more about Nancy’s work and material, once my own book is in production and I am in no danger of copying any ideas. And I have a feeling there will be some synergies and perhaps even areas for collaboration. But for now, I am not looking at her material.
What I am interested in right now, and what I think all leaders could benefit from, is how we can come up with positive ideas fast. Because, let’s face it, we are living in a fast-paced world where everything seems to come with a sense of urgency. How great would it be if you could tap into the best thinking anytime you needed to? Sometimes, it’s as simple as going to look for it.
My son Bradley started a job last year which included organizing leaflet distribution in a shopping area. The goal was to get people to go to the shop, with a discount coupon. I asked if people were not wary of him or trying to avoid someone who approached them with a leaflet. I usually avoid people trying to hand me things as I walk down the street. Not always, but when I’m in a hurry, which sadly is most of the time, as it is with most people.
Brad explained that before he started the work, he searched for and found strategies online, which he adapted and refined on the job. He took time to think about how to approach people, what to say, and how to say it. Based on the research he had done, he even had a strategy for where to stand, how to react to questions and much more. All learned from videos on the Internet.
I admire people who think and plan, even a little, before jumping into something new. I am also impressed by the thought or idea to search for and find the answers there. I don’t know if people in my generation (Baby Boomers) would even think to look online for this kind of information, or know what to search for!
How ingenious, to have the idea to learn a skill like that from watching videos. The Internet is an enabler and for the Millennials like Bradley, that is the first place they look – Google or, more likely, YouTube.
Starting out with the right intention can open up creative solutions for you too. Stopping to think for a moment longer than you normally would is not only possible but highly recommended. Taking even a few seconds to allow the best ideas to come is a way to honor the person with whom you are interacting. It shows you care.
You can learn how to care. Caring is all about intention, wanting the best for the other person, believing in them. Then, acting from that place of caring. People will definitely feel it, even if they are not able to articulate what it is about your communication that touches them. I have created an entire chapter about this later in my book, and I honestly think it is this kind of work that will give you the edge over people who are just churning out “stuff”.
My most successful authors are usually the ones who really go for it in their communications. They wear their heart on their sleeve and let others get to know them. They think about the way the other person will receive their message, instead of trying to be clever.
I believe that strong-willed personality types need to let go of thinking of themselves in order to care about others. Being OK with yourself, your life and what value you add is a worthy goal. And as we have already seen, someone else’s success does not take away from yours. As the Buddhist saying goes, the candle does not lose anything by lighting another candle.
This is the E in the REAL model: Engagement. It’s the hardest one to grasp because although I called it a strategy, there is no real way of teaching it. I’m not sure there are many tangible ways of assessing engagement or caring. One that we work with a lot in my companies is language. The language you use when you speak with people one-to-one or speak to groups is critical. Your word choices can show you put real thought into your communication.
Writing has its challenges because the other person is not physically there to respond. This is why we spend extra time during our coaching and programs on key areas such as style, tone, intention and format of messages and content. So much can be misconstrued or misinterpreted, and if you are not there to explain yourself, you could miss the connection. Have you ever seen a discussion on social media get out of hand simply because of the way people interpreted the content? Aim to rise above that kind of communication, and put extra thought and care into everything you say, share and respond to online and offline. This attention alone will allow you to stand out.
Thought Bite: Your word choices can show you put real thought into your communication
It is possible to create great engagement through writing. Just think of your own favorite authors and how you respond to their writing.
You can read further in The Thoughtful Leader (£12.99, Panoma Press) by Mindy Gibbins-Klein