Are you sharing your gifts, or only your skills?
“Stop lying to yourself, Nina!”, my coach told me on our weekly call. I was a bit taken aback by her comment, as it hit a nerve. I usually feel quite confident and in control, and I am not often critisised like that. But I knew exactly what she meant, and I deserved it. I was lying to myself, and I needed to start speaking my truth. What my coach was saying to me, was this:”Show me more of the real you, not the person who you think you should be.” And even though this was something I knew already, and in fact, is something I teach my own clients, I knew I was guilty of hiding myself behind a veneer of something I believed my audience wanted to hear and see. Why was I doing this?
Oftentimes the business owner in us is acting. You show up as a different version of you, someone you feel your audience will perhaps take more seriously. Be honest with me; when you show up online, in a video, giving a presentation, or even at an in-person event, how much of it is an act? When you are talking about your business, are you pretending to be someone ‘more’ or ‘better’, perhaps copying the style of someone you admire? How much of your real, unique traits, quirks and gifts are you hiding in those situations? Quite a lot? Don’t be too harsh on yourself: we all do it. However, becoming more aware of it will improve your business in the long run, and keep the joy alive. So let’s find out what we can do differently.
We are scared of judgement, so we put on a mask
So why do we take on a different personality when we step into our business shoes? Short answer: because we feel our real self is not good enough. We hide behind a veneer of business talk and mannerism, because we think the world will judge us if we don’t. We think that people will not take us seriously if we are silly in a video, use our sense of humour in a newsletter, show up with messy hair, or talk about topics that really interest us, but are perhaps a little unusual for some. We play safe by choosing standard topics within the expected container of our business niche, and by sharing content that doesn’t offend anyone or that could potentially scare people away. Because we don’t want to scare potential clients away, do we? Or do we?
What would happen if you would start talking about topics that say a lot about you as a person, and that are things your competitors do not talk about? What if it made some people unfollow you, but attracted many more followers in return, who really ‘get’ you, and love your unique style?
When I started making myself known as a business coach online, I too was guilty of playing it safe. I had never been an online coach before, so I was looking for examples to know what to do. I started following successful coaches and looked at how they did things, what type of content they created, and what services they offered. Ah! I thought, so that is how you do videos. And that is how you try and sell your programme. And this is how you launch a course. I started doing similar things, and even though I felt I was doing thing my way, and not copying anyone, I was still hiding behind a layer of veneer. Because I felt nobody would take me seriously as a coach if I just showed up as me.
Share your gifts and traits, as well as your skills
When you are new to something, anything, you look for teachers, and you copy their methods. There is nothing wrong with that in essence, but it does become problematical when you continue on that road. Then your business becomes a copy of someone else’s, and worse; you will not attract your ideal clients, because they don’t get to see the real you, nor understand why you are any different from the competition. It becomes so much harder to sell your offer.
With my own coach, I dived into personality tests like the enneagram, Human Design, spirituality, and finding out more about who I am as a person first of all, and as a business owner second. I am an enneagram type 7, a Manifesting Generator, and a Maker 1st, Advisor 2nd, in the Sparketype test (go and do them, you’ll be amazed!). Doing these tests really told me a lot about myself, what drives me, my behaviour and decision making, and what my true calling is. I am a creative – and a helper.
At the end of the day, building a business that is sustainable in the long run, needs to be aligned with your values and principles. Not with the values of someone else.
Most of us are not thinking about our values and principles when promoting ourselves; we are only sharing our skills and whatever it is we are selling. Again, out of fear of judgement, or at least because don’t know enough about marketing. We choose the safe path, because our skills are measurable, and often backed up by certificates, experience and credentials. We feel professional, and confident to talk about this to our audience.
Our gifts, however, are what make us stand out from the crowd, and could potentially help us enormously in our marketing efforts. Knowing your personal values, principles and personality traits will make content creating easier, and will potentially make everything flow better. Just like friends are attracted to you for being you, ideal clients will want to work with you because of your energy and personal values. So share them.
Your business is your own unique creation
These gifts, which are personality traits, talents, and special interests, have a big influence on our life and the way we work, and really are the power tools that can make our business amazing. But what do we do? We hide them. And I am no saint, you know. I too have mainly been sharing my skills, not my gifts. I have earned my diplomas, have built up my career, my experience, my knowledge, and I know how to practically help people. But how much was I sharing about what makes me tick? Not much. Because I didn’t feel anyone needed to know about these things. They were separate from my business. And thus I created two different personas: entrepreneur Nina, and private Nina.
“Nina”, my coach said to me, “I want to you to sprinkle some of that creative hippie rebel into your content, and stop hiding your cool personality”.
Sometimes you need someone to tell you the truth. Someone to give you permission to accept your full self, with all of your quirks, and tell you that you are allowed to blend them with your business. To stop worrying what old colleagues may think of you, if you suddenly start talking about plant medicine, poetry, or street art. To fill your days with what gives you joy, and make your business part of it. If we keep acting, and pretending to be someone else, or be all ‘business-y’, when in fact, it makes us cringe deep down, then how long do you think it will take before you’ve had enough? Align your content with who you truly are as a person, and your ideal clients will love you for it.
This is me!
I am Nina, 40-something, Dutch and living in Spain. I am a creative business coach, wife & mother, singer-songwriter, rebel, deep thinker, and social introvert (I like hanging out with people, but not too many, and I do love my own company). I am terrible at baking cakes, because I am impatient and I don’t like following rules. I am interested in all things spiritual, but I don’t wear purple dresses. I am a curious being and I always look for sunshine and solutions.