I often accompany clients through a terrifying moment. No, it’s not life or death, but I know it feels as serious in that moment. I know the symptoms, I get them too. I start rubbing my face and arms when I feel this fear. I perspire too much. Some clients report they are literally shaking.
I was thinking about this, watching The Martian last night, having just read the book. No matter that I knew the conclusion, I was gripped with emotion towards the end, as a do or die moment arrived. Astronaut Mark Watney took his leap of faith. This was his moment of truth.
What is it that induces full-bodied fear in my clients and even myself? We aren’t astronauts. We’re business owners and sensible people.
Here I am, on the other end of the phone. I’m speaking to a client and we’ve had weeks of working together and the to-and-fro of final perfections. Here they are, being stepped through the final technical steps. One client couldn’t read the computer screen clearly at this stage.
Why so scared?
Well, they’re about to share more of themselves than before with everyone they know. They’re publishing their first ever blog.
I think they’d rather be trying to get off Mars alive.
Every step taken by astronaut Mark Watney brought him closer to this terrifying Go moment. From counting the eyes in a meagre seventeen potatoes, to burning a religious icon because it was the only combustible material. He made hundreds of strategic decisions and took countless micro-actions to get here. Seemingly absurd choices were made in service to his quest to survive.
Watney needed to count the eyes in potatoes in order to gauge how many more he could grow. He needed to increase his calories and extend his life. He burned a crucifix to create a chemical reaction that formed water. He knew what he needed to achieve, his actions came as a result of that.
Of course, as they watched from Mission Control, colleagues could not always make sense of his work. They felt confused, why would he be driving to this place or moving those objects?
Many people I meet express great confusion about how to write and develop a public profile using online and offline platforms. There is confusion about writing, blogging, social media and building a profile. I get that. There is technical information needed and this is a personal, nuanced journey. I understand.
Ultimately, though, it’s not the how that holds the most power in this equation.
In fact, my surprising suggestion for you is this. Stop asking how to use social media and write blogs. For most people, it’s the wrong first question.
What is the first question, you ask?
I spend time getting to know a client before we begin a coaching journey. In that time I don’t focus on telling them how to do stuff. It’s not to create intentional mystery, it’s deeply strategic.
I’m spending that time discovering their why. Why?
Because until we are both absolutely clear why they are going to write blogs or use social media, it’s pointless taking any technical steps. In fact, there are only one or two steps I would ever encourage before someone knows their why. I will share one with you today.
Speaking of what to do and why. I won’t tell you what astronaut Mark Watney used to fertilise his potatoes. Enough to say, it had been vacuum sealed and was sufficient for the task. He had a massive sense of purpose, as did the people who wanted to save him, to perform acts of stench and great courage. It didn’t matter what it took.
I love the courage of my clients, prepared to face fears of what everyone will think and pressing Go. Max Hardy wrote why he will not vote at the next election, Nic Tovey calls for Australian men to take responsibility for each other, Martina Hughes says the sexual revolution of the 60’s never reached maturity and offers to help lead the way to that, Michelle Fiegehen counters accusations of being a slaver, describing the value of western businesses operating in a developing country. I could go on.
All know their why. All have good reason to be as bold as they are.
So how will I help you today? Let me show you a doorway (think of it as a hatch) to finding your own Why.
I recommend you look around. See what is reflected back to you by your partner, peers and clients, even children (they see everything and are more naturally candid). Ask them all, what am I great at, why do people love me and what is my contribution? Listen.
Then Look. In the mirror of their words, you’ll start to see your highest value illuminated. Therein will be your Why. It’s not instant. It will take filtering, discernment and time. You will probably need help.
Take this as your first step. Then it won’t matter how much fear you feel at Go, you’ll want to hit the button.