You’re paying two trusted consultants. One day something comes up where their input intersects. What happens when they disagree? How to decide?
You must know this feeling of frustration. When advisors are giving you contrasting feedback and you are torn about what’s right, how do you make the correct call?
Here’s my recent scenario.
Writing can be hard, but writing about yourself can be even harder.
That’s why presidents have speechwriters. That’s why there are journalists and resume writers and copywriters. Even though I have written about myself quite a bit in my professional life, I felt this time I wanted outside advice on how to do this right.
A journalist and gifted writer-friend of mine, Nancy Colasurdo, agreed to interview me and write my story. Let me just say, the interview itself was transformative and worth every penny.
A few days later I received her story about me. I found it in my inbox first thing in the morning and read it on my phone. Here is a screenshot of what I texted her right after:
I sent the story she wrote to my adult children and my dad to gauge if it resonated with them. I wanted to be authentic and not hide behind a veil. This was my first layer of testing. The feedback was positive, but then they are part of my family and hence slightly biased.
The next layer of testing required me to send the story to my coach, Todd Tresidder, without much explanation. What I wanted was a fresh opinion. Advice, not coaching.
Here is part of what he wrote:
“Why the third person? It reads like a news report. How about ‘I’ and ‘me’ and ‘my’ so it is personal. You must own it.”
He goes on to say:
“You are onto something good. You just need to make it about the benefit to the client. They are the hero of the story. You are just the wise wizard.”
Bam. Right between the eyes. What? How could an About page be about my clients?
Two advisors, two very different opinions about the right path forward.
In all fairness, there was a lot of discussion between Nancy and myself as to first or third person. And I didn’t give Todd much context other than that the story was for the new site in conjunction with the bio.
But don’t you have the same problem? How often do you ask for advice where you, due to time constraints or for confidentiality reasons, only give partial context?
Next, I started to twist myself into a pretzel. I converted the piece into first person and added benefit statements and sent it off again. Guess what? The feedback I received wasn’t any better. Really?
I was frustrated. (Translation: I was resisting the process.)
I was paying two trusted advisors and I ended up deflated and without a result.
Ever been there? Have you ever had to make a decision based on conflicting advice? Two steps forward and three steps back? So, how did I find MY voice in the midst of this mess? How did I make a decision?
I wrote about this process. That’s right. I stepped outside of myself and observed what was going on. Part of my daily routine is writing in a journal. Meditation on a page. I find regular meditation challenging at times, so instead I find activities where I am mindful:
Journaling. Cooking. Walking. Ironing.
I have been journaling every morning for years. Stream of consciousness writing. Three pages. No more, no less. Over the years, it has helped me find a sane way out of my marriage, allowed me to cope with a rebellious teenager, and has brought out my best ideas.
I needed clarity about what was happening, so I turned to this tried and true process. Right after journaling, this post just poured out of me and I knew how to move forward.
Next I took a deep dive into other people’s About pages. Others must have struggled with this before. I could have looked at other coaches’ About pages, but I decided to reach far and wide — politicians, entrepreneurs, business leaders. Here are some of the About pages I checked out:
Chris Guillebeaud, Chris Brogan, Alex Blumberg, Donald Trump, President Barack Obama, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg and others.
Next, I participated in
webinars about writing LinkedIn profiles. I listened to TED talks and learned about StoryCorps. Much of what I learned could fill another post. In a nutshell, the About pages of others are all over the place. Most are bios in third person, some in first person. Some are well written, but not all. Hmmm.
What does all of this mean for me? And ultimately, for you?
Each About page is unique, naturally. I asked myself which stories gave me a good glimpse as to who the person really is, not who they want to be or who they think they are. I was looking for the essence. The soul. It became clear to me that I had to find my own voice.
No one else could make a decision for me how to move forward. It had to be mine, made from the soul. Questions leading to my decision included:
What is the message I want to get out there?
What feeling do I want the visitor to walk away with?
What matters most?
I needed to take a stand, have courage and trust myself.
Time to put my process to use. Taking the feedback I received under advisement, I modified the Bio for keynote addresses, uploaded a Story about me told by a third party, and created a list of 57 Life Defining Moments.
One person. One voice. Multiple perspectives.
Curious about my About page?
How will you find your voice?
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