What Holds Us Back From Sharing Our Work?
It should go without saying that if you want to have success in your business, you need to tell people about your business.
Much has been written about the fears that we face in starting a business or launching a new project. For many entrepreneurs, especially in creative fields, the challenge is not so much in the starting, but in the promoting.
We may love what we do, and be excited about it, but when it comes to sharing it, it feels daunting. Sometimes we will completely dance around it rather than simply say: I am doing this thing. You should check it out.
I know this from personal experience because I’ve been doing it on two fronts.
First is with the expansion of my business. A few years ago, I decided to expand from my core role as a real estate agent to a broader coaching practice. Coaching is the business I am really in, and it felt like a natural evolution.
Second is with a program that I’ve been trying to offer for 3 years. It’s not an idea or a concept. It’s a fully-developed, tested-and-proven program that I’ve offered to clients who invest to work with me 1:1. I even have a landing page for it.
I talk about both sometimes, but not in direct ways.
So why have I been reluctant to share something that fuels me and excites me?
I’m tempted to say that I don’t know why, but that’s a lie.
I know exactly why: Fear.
The list of things we might fear in the context of launching a new project or other creative work is endless. Some of the fears are the same as starting any business. But creative work is also different. When you’re offering work that comes from your essence, it feels a lot more personal.
Here are three specific fears that I’ve found in my journey, and the truths that neutralize them.
Fear 1: People Won’t Get It
For years, when people asked what I did, I said: “I’m a coach for people in transition who need to move.” Often, people didn’t get that. When I explained that in their language I am a real estate agent, they would ask “so are you a real estate agent or a coach?”
To me, it’s the same thing.
In expanding my business, I decided to step into coaching “for real.” Not instead of my current business, but as another way to help people.
I feared that people wouldn’t get what I’m doing. I feared that people would think I’m giving up my real estate business. They wouldn’t understand how the different aspects of my business relate to each other.
I’ve held back from promoting my program because I fear they won’t get it or see the value in it.
Truth 1: Not everyone will get it… and that’s ok
The truth is that many people won’t get it. Many people need the certainty of conformity and clarity. Pick your lane and stay in it. They know only what has previously existed.
That doesn’t work for everyone. It has never worked for me.
I’m multi-passionate, multi-talented, and multi-dimensional. I am creative. Forget “thinking outside the box.” I don’t even have a box. I will never fit into a pre-defined role. I have to create and define my own role. And my work represents me. I don’t view the world in the same way as others. And thank God for that. Because that is so boring.
This means allowing myself to do things in a different way — often a way that hasn’t been done before. So, no, not everyone will get it.
For those of us who refuse to conform, the practice lies in strengthening the inner resilience muscles to learn to be ok with the fact that other people — sometimes people in your own family — won’t get it.
Truth 2: The right people will get it
Sometimes people ask me about the “leap” from real estate agent to coaching. When I explain my philosophy — what business I’m really in as a real estate agent — many people do get it.
In fact, they find it refreshing. They tell me they have never heard anyone describe the role of a real estate agent in the way I do. I create a paradigm shift for them.
The truth is, the right people get it. But nobody can get it if you don’t give them a chance.
Sometimes, it requires us to step back and find new ways to position concepts and ideas to make them easier to understand. Other times, we just need to do the thing and let our actions speak for themselves.
Lesson: Don’t try to convert people who don’t get it. Focus your efforts on the people who get it.
Fear 2: I Will Damage My Current Business
I had a fear that sharing my business expansion and my programs would cannibalize my existing real estate business. The fear was that if I told people that I coach clients outside the context of real estate transactions, or if they see that I’m offering group programs, they would think I don’t have time to work with more real estate clients.
This fear actually prevented me from sharing some of my biggest success milestones, and lessons that could help other business owners.
And this is so dumb.
The truth is that expanding in these areas gives me more time to spend with my real estate clients than loading up on 20 new listings. These new areas of my business are leveraged and scalable in a way that real estate brokerage is not. I can take on more clients with less effort. That’s a win for my real estate clients, a win for me, and a win for the others I can serve in these new areas.
Aside from this, there are two universal truths that I’ve discovered.
Truth 1: Standing in your truth attracts the right clients to you
Ironically, the group of people with whom I have been most open about my business expansion has been in my real estate clients. In fact, it was the feedback from those clients that tipped me off to the value they received from our interactions beyond the scope of the transaction.
When I tell my real estate clients that I also have a “traditional” coaching practice, I establish my value. In the same way, when I share that I am a frequent industry speaker and train real estate agents, I establish my expertise.
The result is that they have more respect for my time and my boundaries, and value what I do. It creates a better relationship.
Sharing what I do more openly helps me attract my ideal clients — my kindred spirits — regardless of the context in which I help them.
Truth 2: Creation begins with destruction
Sometimes, expansion to a new area of business does cannibalize an existing line of business. The practice is to get comfortable with this possibility.
Destruction is part of the process of creation. That means you may damage one business line in creating another. To pick one example, look at how Apple cannibalized the iPod by introducing the iPhone. I don’t think anyone misses the iPod.
This comes down to being honest with yourself about what you really want to create. I’m not yet ready to give up my real estate business — I love working with buyers and sellers. But I have always known that my purpose is bigger than my current role. That means I must be willing to release that role, if necessary, to step into what awaits me.
Lesson: If you want to create something new, you must be willing to destroy something that already exists. Open to the possibility that what you create will be even stronger and better than what existed before.
Fear 3: Fear of Being Judged
The fear of judgment is behind so many of our fears, including the fears of failure, rejection, and success. When we talk about the fear of failure, what we really mean is the fear of what will happen if we fail: people will judge us.
The fear of rejection is a fear of being judged for who we are. Fear of success is often a fear of being visible, of being judged when we have a moment of real life where our actions don’t match what we teach.
In most cases, the people we fear the most are not the anonymous trolls on the internet but the people we know.
For me, it was my parents. Their friends. Teachers. Mentors. The partners I had worked with in my law days. Colleagues in the real estate industry. The people whose expectations have shaped my beliefs about who I am or who I need to be to be “successful” under their definitions.
I heard the judgments that I am flighty, not committed, and that can’t stick with one thing for the long haul.
Another career change.
Even though it’s not a career change. And of course, that goes back to Fear 1, that they wouldn’t get it. You can begin to see how fears layer on each other and create a prison.
Truth 1: People will judge … and you can’t control it
Like it or not, people will judge. And there’s nothing we can do about it. We can’t control what people think or feel. And it’s none of our business.
The only thing we can do is learn to let it go.
When we can do this, we find the freedom to be ourselves and do what fulfills us. The happiest people I know are the people who don’t waste time thinking about how others might judge them for their actions. They are free.
Truth 2: Judgment comes from within
The truth is, you don’t know what other people think of you and what their judgments are. This fear really is just a story we make up. And it is based on opinions we have about ourselves, not what we think others are really thinking.
Here’s a really crucial concept that helped me see judgment differently:
Whatever judgment we hear from others is really a judgment we have about ourselves.
We hear things selectively. And we choose what to hear on a subconscious level based on what reinforces our beliefs about ourselves.
Once we see that the judgments originate with us, we can work with the judgment to transform it.
Also, when we understand that judgment stems from within, we can appreciate that to the extent other people judge us, those judgments are not about us, but about them. This helps us detach from their judgments and not personalize it to us.
Lesson: Recognize that other people’s opinions of you have more to do with them, and aren’t really about you at all. See where you are judging yourself and learn how to release those judgments.
It’s Time to Stop Hiding
What fears are holding you back? And what’s the truth that can set you free? Your work is important. It’s time to listen to the voices of truth and move past your fears, come out of hiding and share your work with the world.
What are the fears that are keeping you small? Do any of these resonate with you? Please share in the comments.