[Stories] Janet and Breaking the Habit of Cloaking Who You Are

Janet has a history of struggling with marketing training, and specifically trying to write copy that represents the value she offers to women as they become grounded in their power and presence. She has signed up for several marketing programs over the past years only to realize she didn’t resonate with the approach promoted in the program. Having to answer questions like “what problems do my people have?  How do I write about my way of working that conveys a sense of urgency so they’ll hire me?” would stop Janet in her tracks. She would shut down and stop participating in the program. After several years of these disempowering experiences, feeling she was wasting her time and money, she concluded she was bad at writing copy and needed to hire someone to write for her.

Janet also realized she was struggling with feelings of “who am I to say anything?”, a not uncommon conclusion of strong women who have learned to walk softly around powerful men. Women who do what they want and need to do, but cloak it so it isn’t a threat to the men around them. Ironic given Janet’s brilliance is helping women claim more power in their life and in love! This deeply ingrained pattern was constricting her ability to speak clearly and confidently about how her work empowered women.

While Janet knew that her mentoring work changed women’s lives, she struggled to bring in clients who really got the value she offered. Instead, her habitual ways of showing up and speaking drew to her what we called “unhappy housewives” who wanted relief from their painful relationships with men, but didn’t really want to develop their own strength and capacity as women.

And while Janet felt she shined talking about her work on her podcast “Women’s Grit & Grace”, when it came to coming up with marketing language for a web site or when speaking about her coaching services, she shut down.

After working on her True Spirit and True Wisdom with me privately a while back, Janet moved into one of my Firewalk Mentoring Groups. And it became clear pretty quickly that what would serve her most was a stronger, more specific story to tell people about what she offered and why it mattered so she could attract clients who would pay her for what she could offer.

Getting into the Story work proved challenging for Janet and completing the writing assignments was still difficult and frustrating. The way she described it:

“I kept running into those old marketing class ghosts. ‘I should write like this, I should write about this. This way of writing is right and that way is wrong. I have to write like all those marketing teachers said I have to write to get clients.’ I didn’t feel like I could write about the things I was excited to write about: Spirituality 3.0, how women step back into the power of their leadership as women, the cultural myths about power for women being the same as for men, and so on. And like all those times in all those other marketing classes, I shut down, stopped writing, and said to myself, ‘I can’t do this!’

It was so frustrating! I know what I am doing when I work with my clients, why isn’t this coming out in my writing?

Isabel offered understanding and empathy about the Story work being hard. It’s not simple nor easy to publicly declare who you are and what you do.

Isabel asked WHY I wasn’t writing about what I was passionate about. She explained that Story work – which is different writing than copy writing – was precisely ABOUT writing about what you cared about most, not trying to please or woo or convince an audience into liking me or hiring me.

Even though Isabel wasn’t telling me to write the old marketing way, I had been running those old stories about what my business writing should look like.

So Isabel suggested I step back from having to write for anyone else, even for her, and just write about what I love, what I know about women and power, and the need for women to step forward.  She said, ‘I am not looking for you to get anywhere or produce a finished piece. I am looking for you to show up on the page, to hear and feel you, Janet, in your writing. I know you can do it!’

I asked myself: ‘What would happen if I stay focused on what I know how to do well? I know how to create connection. I know how to work with groups. I can sense in a person or a group where heart and soul is missing and gently bring it forth for tending to. What will give me permission to do that here in my marketing?

What’s the worst thing that will happen if I follow this path, this way of writing, instead of the one I’ve been told I have to do to get clients?

I might not get clients. But I am not getting many clients the cloaked and paralyzed way either.

What’s the best thing that could happen?

People might get inspired. They might feel like I get it, I know what they are dealing with, and I am confident I can help them.

That might help me make my business reach and serve the women seeking support and learning for how to show up more empowered and successfully.’

And that mindset gave me permission to go into writing that more inspired and passionate piece. What Isabel calls the Story. I could feel it wasn’t a fluff piece like so much marketing is. Not a ‘I will manipulate you’ piece.  I got to work and wrote a bunch and submitted it for review and Isabel responded enthusiastically, ‘yes, this is IT!’

I can do it! I can show up on the page! I can speak to what I do in a way that comes alive! Isabel affirmed that what I wrote had value, not just for me, but for other people. That there was something real and substantial and useful and interesting about what I had to say!

Instead of writing to produce the ‘right thing’, I now know to write like I am having a conversation with whoever reads this. In a way that comes across that this isn’t just something I am saying to get something, this is what I know to be true and possible for you as a woman. To write so that ability to help women translates on paper. When I gave myself permission to NOT create ‘a marketing piece’ then I could share what I know and am excited about.

And what I do is so practical! People have said always told me how grounded I am. Isabel showed me how to make the language I use concrete and specific. So the words I share can both speak to really big ideas and possibilities and also be practical and bite-sized for living in daily life.

I’m now ready to begin work on my web copy.

And I’m ready now in a way I wasn’t before to step out and find new clients who want this power and relationship work I offer. I understand the downside of power plays, and how you can step into your real power of heart and soul in any challenge, situation, or with another person. I am excited to get the clients who are craving THAT!

Since creating my Story, this piece of writing that represents me, I’ve started to say the things I was holding back from saying to clients.

I had a former client who came back to work with me who can get stuck in ‘poor me-itis’. I saw how easy it would be to dance around her doing so and just say some nice words which would make her feel good. But given what I’ve been writing about, I realized that my job is to tell her what prevents her from transforming the pain she feels in her relationships with women in her family. Which is to no longer claim being the victim as her identity. I hesitated, because that seemed rough when she’s in so much pain. But I realized that if I don’t offer her the truth of what is in her way, of what she is seeking relief from, she could not really make a decision to change. And, I would not be who she needs-and has hired-me to be. She’s not hired me for her to like me or think I am inspiring even. She has come to me for help and I know the way to wake her up to how she is causing herself unnecessary pain, to challenge her with the truth.

I didn’t make her wrong. My inner voice worried, ‘But what if she is not happy with this?’ But I realized, ‘She gets to choose. This is my business and this what I do because it works to help women feel better about themselves and their relationships.’

So I am bolder with clients now. I am clear the direction I need to go with them and I am willing to do it.

I know what I know, it’s time to stop being afraid to speak up, stand up, show up with it. I may offend, provoke, intrigue. I am standing to what I believe and know to be true.

I am not for everybody. But I am for the people who I am for, the women who want to rise up grounded in themselves and their power as women.

And I can’t do that if I am cloaked.”

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