(Note: if you are an independent professional and do not receive Robert Middleton's newsletter, More Clients, my story is that you should! Check out his website, Action Plan Marketing and sign up!)
This week, in a newsletter entitled "Too Proud to Market?" InfoGuru Marketing founder Robert Middleton wrote about members of a folk-rock band who are reluctant to take time during their restaurant and club gigs to promote their availability for events and parties. They are not as busy as they could be and would like to play at more private events, which pay twice as much as what they usually earn; however they don't want to come across as crassly commercial or as needing more work.
Robert noted that many independent professionals (I daresay the rest of us, too) grapple with this same issue. One excuse for not marketing is to think, "If I'm great, people will finally discover me." Robert pointed out that this could be a case of fragile self-image disguised as pride. In other words, if I say, "If I'm great, people will finally discover me," it could be a way to avoid the thought, "Since I haven't been discovered, it must mean I'm not so great." Or, "If I have to promote myself, how great could I be?" This mindset has never gotten anyone any new business (or a spouse, or other things that require being known).
It's true that if I'm not what I say I am, people will quickly discover that. Ultimately if I have a resistance to letting people know, "here I am and I'm available," it's less about pride and more being found out. Perish forbid you might think about me what I suspect may be true about me!
Even in the face of great feedback and results, we may doubt ourselves and fear that the world is going to confirm our doubts. If so, we may believe it is preferable to play it small and stay safely unknown.
How many highly successful people do you know who do not market themselves? If they didn't, we might not know about them. We may even assume they're not available to provide their services to us. ("This band is so good, they're probably booked up and most likely we can't afford them anyway. Let's find out who the wedding planner recommends.")
I have realized that when I don't go for things I say I want (like more clients, or a driver's license, or to get buff by summer), it's because I fear failure. Fear, as Byron Katie tells us, has only two causes: the belief that I will lose what I (think I) have, or that I will not get what I (think I) want.
So there are two self-defeating beliefs going on when I don't "go for it"; an assumption of failure...and a life put on hold, not fully lived with awareness, presence and joy because the mind has gone off into a story of the future where it scares itself. Not only do I not see that everything is perfectly okay right now; I don't see how perfectly okay everything always will be because I am invested in controlling how people see me, controlling the outcome of my efforts, controlling a future that doesn't exist.
In the wonderful new CD set Making Your Thoughts Work for You, recorded at a day-long event with Katie and Wayne Dyer in 2006, Dr. Dyer--who is coming from the mindset of "the power of intention"--says that when he spoke to Katie just prior to her corneal transplant surgery, she said she knew everything would be fine. He took that to mean that she can see now because she intended this to be so. Later in the recording, Katie elaborates that since she was already fine while in pain and not seeing that everything would be fine whether or not the controversial new procedure she had was a "success." Someone who is afraid of failure and attached to outcome might have delayed having the operation or avoided it altogether, waiting for something "safe" or "proven" to come along, putting one's life on hold. (As far as I know, they have not invented a toothpaste that is guaranteed to prevent cavities or the eventual loss of teeth. Should we stop brushing?)
So if I say I want something and then I don't go after it, it's a lie and it's going to feel stressful, because by holding myself back from what I know to do, I live in the realm of fear and desire. I'm already living without having what I say I want; what's the worst that could happen? Wasted effort? Can I know that? Who knows what's on the other side of "my" apparent path of action.
If it's disapproval or misconception that I fear, can I know that this would happen? Could it be that being upfront with others about what I want is simply clear communication? Might they appreciate the information, the forthrightness, the opportunity I present?
If I were so great everyone would know it; if I have to ask for what I want, it means I'm not worthy. Is that true?
Deepening Transformational Inquiry: "And It Means That"
If the aforementioned band members used The Work of Byron Katie to question their beliefs about marketing their band, they could play with making this list:
"People will think we need more work, and it means that _______ ." I invite everyone to try an applicable version of this exercise, which comes from Byron Katie's sourcebook for The Work, Loving What Is.
One thing we might write is "...and that means they will think we're not that good."
Is it true: Well, here's proof: "The great ones always get discovered." And they are always busy and never have to announce their availability. Really?
One person could discover how great you are...and maybe they have good reasons for not telling everyone else: it doesn't enter their mind to do it, or they think everyone knows this already, or they want to make sure you don't get too popular so that they can continue to have easy access to you. (If you've ever been to a really wonderful restaurant that is never very crowded, or you have found the world's best hairdresser and you're still able to get appointments with her, you know what
I'm talking about!)
"People will think we need more work, and it means that they won't want us (because we're not in demand.)" They won't want you if you're not in demand; is that true? Here I am, a customer in a restaurant, having a meal and really digging your music. In fact, I'm going to come back to this restaurant based on several factors: the food is good, the ambiance is lovely AND you're a featured player here. In fact, I'm only going to come back when I know your band is performing. And I happen to be part of a team at my company that is planning our upcoming holiday party. I have been asking around for recommendations for a band. I have resumes and sample CDs, but I don't have anything from you, so it may not come to me to hire you. If I find out you're available (i.e. not in demand), I'm delighted!
"People will think we need more work, and it means we can't charge what we're worth." Is it true? Have you even asked us what we think? How do you treat us, the potential clients, when you believe that thought? Are you already discounting your rates mentally before telling us what they are, and resenting us for not paying you top dollar? Are you embarrassed to tell us what your time is worth? And if you can't ask for what you're worth, do you even want this gig?
©2007 by Carol L. Skolnick. All rights reserved.