What's really going on underneath your aversion to self-promotion?

Photo by boram kim on Unsplash

Photo by boram kim on Unsplash

I'm on a crusade to de-ickify the word "sell" for women. And I say that as a bleeding heart liberal who used to work at PBS, whose writing professor has suggested I'm "too nice" to my characters. I'm not a hard-edged shark. And frankly, it's time we let go of associating selling with hard edges.

The act of selling isn't inherently evil; nor is its close cousin, self-promotion. Both are things we often need to do in order to achieve our goals; otherwise, we leave the field wide open for other people (often men) to take what could have been ours, whether it's a job, business revenue, a spot on a conference panel — you name it.

Here's the best advice I ever got on this topic (during a webinar about selling from wellness entrepreneur Joy McCarthy): Instead of thinking of "selling," think of teaching. Create content and experiences that teach people why they need what you have to offer —why they need YOU.

In other words... tell them a story. (You knew I'd make this about storytelling at some point, right?!) For example:

  • "Someone else bought my product and it helped them in the following ways."

  • "Here's how I made a difference for the last company that hired me."

  • "After 5 years running this program, I have so many insights to share with others in my field."

Shifting my mindset from selling to teaching really helped me grow my business in the past year. I am incredibly passionate about the importance of filling the world with more women's stories, which is what Mighty Forces is all about; as soon as I started thinking in terms of educating women about the importance and value of sharing their stories, I felt so much spaciousness, where before there was constriction. Going from selling to teaching is a simple but profound reframing that taps into our altruistic instincts as women: "Oh, now I'm helping someone, instead of just helping myself."

If you're reading this and feeling like teaching still feels icky, then — real talk — it's probably an indication that you don't think what you're offering is valuable; or, maybe (I'm going deep here, folks), that you don't think you're valuable.

I'll let you sit with that for a minute, because I don't mean it glibly. I mean it very sincerely, and I know it's not an easy or comfortable truth to sit with.

More real talk: So many of us struggle to love what we do, and who we are; of course we feel like frauds, asking others to spend money or time on something we ourselves don't value.

I'd like to say something daring: You deserve a life full of things you want to promote the SHIT out of. And you deserve to love yourself enough that it feels good to share who you are and what you have to offer.

Author Ruth Whippman recently argued in the New York Times that our culture has become corrupted by rampant self-promotion, but the problem isn't the level of self-promotion; it's the level of self-promotion fueled by fear ("OH GOD WHAT IF NO ONE CLICKS ON MY LINK"), rather than love ("Here is something that I love, that I think you might love, too").

There's a new year coming. I invite you to ask yourself, "What can I choose in 2019 so that a year from now, I am completely comfortable teaching people who I am and what I offer?"

It's a big question, for sure; but asking big questions is part and parcel of living a big, beautiful life, which is what I wish for each and every one of you.

If you’re ready to teach the world about you, get in touch.