Someone emailed me after last week’s article:
“I loved your post about letting your light shine. But what do you do when you haven’t found yours yet?!”
They meant it in jest, but their question talks to the heart of something I come across, particularly when I’m working with you solopreneurs whose businesses are built around your personality.
There’s this whole insidious belief that you can and should nail some specific “thing” you’re meant to be or do that will transform your work and life. Indeed, that any failure you have in achieving the results you want will come down to your own lack of clarity in this arena.
The Insidious Belief
This whole thing comes at you in two key ways:
Much of the self-development world exhorts you to discover who you are. The implication is that “you” are a constant and that, when you can define the essence of yourself, then you will be able to put yourself out there so much more clearly.
Look, I’ve been there. At a time of feeling less clear and more lost, I felt pretty pumped up reading books with titles like “reclaim your soul” or “discover your purpose”. The authors were obviously so sorted about who they were, and what they were here to do, that they were writing about it. I devoured lots of stuff like that hoping some of their certainty would spark something in me.
But in the end it all just made me feel that I was missing something, because I couldn’t get my raison d’être down to one pithy sentence that I could wrap my whole life and being around.
Business marketing advice
And there’s a ton of stuff too that comes from the small-business marketing world. Particularly from the self-appointed experts who spend most of their life online.
They talk right at all of your uncertainties about how well your business is doing – or not, as the case may be. They’ve thought about your deepest vulnerabilities and they’re smart at wrapping slick words and offerings around them that look on the face of it like they’ll give you answers about that unique thing you think you’re missing. The thing that’s going to bring it all together.
Like I’ve said before, these guys may have some smart tools and techniques to offer you, some great platforms to use or whatever. But they cannot ever give you the key to the holy grail.
Because that’s not how it works.
Stumbling as I have done myself through all of this, I’d love to offer a couple of big reflections.
First, I now don’t believe that we ever go through life with only one purpose. Or only one perfect way in which we can put ourselves at the service of the world.
I think we evolve and that how we give our gifts and talents to others can and perhaps should morph over time, dependent on a whole load of factors.
So, for me, purpose is dynamic, not static.
Then, to trust that a success strategy someone else developed or discovered will also work for you is misguided. Only because you are not them. They are not you. They have their access to wisdom. You have your own.
And if you go outside yourself time and time again for answers, you’re shutting yourself off from your own knowing, your own clarity.
So how to work inside-out?
Want to get better at listening to your own internal knowing? Here are a couple of suggestions. I offer them to you on a test, don’t trust basis. They aren’t THE answer. And your own wisdom make take you elsewhere. But if you really are unsure of what it even means for you to shine your light, start here.
You’re okay right now, exactly as you are
There’s nothing different you have to be or do in order to be okay. You’re already okay. Trust that. Go with that. Allow that its own resonance within your being.
Understand your character strengths
In the absence of being able to articulate your genius, dip your toe in the water of character strengths.
Character strengths are those enduring qualities we automatically turn to just in being ourselves. I particularly like VIA‘s take on all of this. They look at strengths across six categories: wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence. And within these they define 24 separate distinctive strengths, like creativity, courage, love, leadership, forgiveness and playfulness.
Do their questionnaire. It’ll give you feedback on how you score on all 24 of their strengths. But look at the top five or six and consider how they’re at play, not at some future point, but right now in your life.
What’s the magic thing you can already see happening when you use them in combination?
Go to work with a hypothesis
So, maybe you do all of that and you’re still not crystal clear. Like I said, that’s okay.
Just work with what you know.
Amp up that little bit of magic you’re already in touch with.
Don’t demobilize yourself thinking you must be crap because everyone else seems to be able to nail their thing and you can’t. Just see past the need to be that defined even. Stay in action with what you have some felt certainty about.
Go give your best in the way that you know how right now.
That’s all that’s required of you.
The clarity on the rest of it will follow if you just stay tuned in to what’s happening on the inside.