Susanna’s Story: ReWeaving the World
Audio | 00:25:12
This first story is about the wonderful things that can happen when you risk offering something that you aren’t sure will be marketable. Because that’s the big fear, isn’t it? That if we follow our heart, we’ll end with something to offer that no one will want to buy.
Susanna Maida calls herself a visionary business weaver, and I love that title for her because I think it describes who she is and what she does much better than if she used a conventional title like business coach.
One of the ways she describes herself in the bio that she uses out in the world is:
Susanna is a wild woman alchemist who surprised herself and everyone else who knew her by falling in love with the entrepreneurial spirit. She’s passionate about giving evolutionary women and men who care deeply about the fate of our world the soul-satisfying sense of alignment that comes from growing, thriving, world-changing business doing their great work.
Isn’t that a bold statement?
What you may recognize is that each of these stories is a kind of hero’s journey of finding yourself in a difficult place, having to really kind of get down into the muck, kind of flail around a little bit to discover something that you can then carry back out into the world.
A lot of people who come to me are like Susanna in that they’re very expansive in their expression. In a lot of places, people are smacked down and told that that’s not okay. What I love is to give people room to unfold a lot of stuff and then work with them to find a more streamlined expression.
Before Susanna stepped into business coaching, she was doing leadership coaching, she was leading retreats in nature, using the medicine wheel. She was good at what she did, but not very successful in it as a business.
In 2010, she made the decision to step into a high-ticket training so that she could learn how to be a business coach and she set all the work she had been doing aside. That training was incredibly valuable in the sense that Susanna was given a system for coaching so that she didn’t have to piece together on her own.
But, this is important, as she describes in her own words:
I lost myself in the process. I lost my own voice, I lost my own aliveness and I didn’t even know what my message was because I put the message that I really was passionate about aside in order to be marketable.
Or at least what she thought was marketable.
What she told herself was: No one walks around in the middle of the night thinking I have to unfold myself as leader.
If you are reading this, I want you to pause for a moment: Has someone told you that the heart and the essence of what you want to offer isn’t marketable?
Because unfortunately, it happens a lot and it can be quite devastating. You take that on for yourself, and it can keep you from actually naming and claiming what it is you are here to do.
Even though the marketing people who say this may mean well, it can come out in really harsh terms like, “Nobody cares about that.” You feel like you’ve been smacked down.
The truth is, and I want you to remember this, is that when a marketing person says that what you do isn’t marketable, it only means that THEY don’t know how to help you market it!
Coming off that training, being in the world of high-end coaching, feeling like she had to do it right, to present herself in the right way, Susanna described it like this:
I felt dried up and parched. I had this image of myself and my message like a well that had stopped working. Not only was there no water coming out of it but it had been caked over with mud and I didn’t know how to access the message that had been in me before. I didn’t know if my voice would ever come back.
How did that impact her ability to be out in the world marketing and growing your business?
I’d say I wasn’t putting myself out there. I had no website, I had no newsletter. I didn’t know what I would say. I had been parroting someone else’s system that didn’t have a lot of me in it and the words I used started to feel kind of generic. I knew that I didn’t want to write a bunch of newsletter articles about five tips to make more money so I didn’t just say anything. I wasn’t speaking, I wasn’t writing, nothing. That’s where I was at.
And in that place, how did she feel about the future of her business?
Pretty crappy. I didn’t feel very hopeful. The interesting thing that was there is this notion you should be doing these things. I had that perpetual feeling of like you should be doing a newsletter, you should have your website, you should be speaking, and yet I couldn’t. There was that sort of self-judging on top of it.
So, it was at that point that Susanna came to me for help with her communication.
Susanna admitted that one of her biggest concerns was that if she poked around at trying to find her voice, she might discover that it was actually gone. She described it: Like a plant that you forgot to water for so long. That no matter how much water I put on it, it might not come back.
She was afraid (and I hear this quite often) that if she kept exploring and looking for her voice, for her message, she might discover that there’s nothing there anymore, which would have been even more painful than to not know what the message was.
Can you relate?
Susanna’s not alone, that sometimes the fear of going in and really excavating your message is the fear of, “What if there’s nothing there,” or “What if what’s there is totally lame?”
Where we start the message development process, whether I work with you one-on-one or in a group setting, is by defining what I call the True Spirit of Your Work.
The True Spirit of your Work is the specific outcome you love to deliver that’s been a theme throughout your life.
It’s about going beyond marketing speech and trying to get to the spiritual truth about why you’re here and what you’re here to do. It gives you permission to say what’s really in your heart instead of trying to sound marketable.
Until you put aside being marketable, just for a little while, you risk circling around and never really landing on the story you are here to tell.
Here’s what Susanna said happened for her as she started to wrap her arms around defining the True Spirit of her Work:
I realized how much I had bought into that idea that in order to be a business coach, I had to inhabit this really tight terrain and I could only say things like how much money you can make and how many clients you can get. How fully I had bought into the idea that people just want to be told how to do things, to be given tips.
And that’s not me. Underneath it all, business coaching is just a strategy that I use for helping people bring their calling and their great work out into the world.
That’s really what I do, and it just happens to be that I now know how to help them build a business to do that.
So when we began, Susanna wasn’t quite ready to say: My work is about helping people do their great work in the world, and the business stuff is just a tool.
For all of you who have been certified in someone else’s system, trained in someone else’s methodology, this is a really common challenge, which is we start to think the tool is the message, as opposed to it being a means for you to do what it is you’re really here to do.
Susanna went on to say: I mentioned the leadership and vision quest work I had been doing before. I had been carrying around this belief that it was either/or; either I could do that work and struggle or I could do the business coaching and make money. I was hoping that through working with you, it could at least be a both/and, that I could somehow be both.
What I discovered, much to my delight, was that there was actually more of a seamless integration between those two worlds of work, and that was more than I could have ever imagine or had hoped for.
So picture this for a moment, Susanna was this kind of wild woman, rafting guide, vision questing, out there in nature, who now had all these business coaching training and business building tools.
What Susanna realized is that she had left the evolutionary thinker part of who she was off the table, the part she’d been told wasn’t marketable, then surprise, she found that she had nothing to say.
And, in a sense, what she realized is that she couldn’t have the impact she wanted on her clients without including this bigger perspective about what she wanted for the world and what she saw was really happening in the world of business.
Another notion that emerged in this exploration of her True Spirit was this idea of restoring the sacred to business. That has become key theme in her work as well as the idea of being in “right relationship.” That was signature language that wasn’t fully in focus, or at least not being used publicly, before we did our work.
Susanna wrote a True Spirit that captures the bigger scope of her work, and my goal was to not only give her permission, but even to kick her butt a little, to get out of conventional business coaching language to name that bigger thing that she is here to do.
So remember, the True Spirit of your Life, or your Life’s Work, is not your elevator speech. This is not necessarily your sound bite or your public language. It’s language that captures the spiritual truth about what you are here to do in this lifetime.
And that’s one of the things that makes my approach to message work different is that I actually make this distinction between your foundational language, the language you write to bring yourself into focus, and your public language.
Because what I’ve found is, that if you don’t separate the two, you actually end up in the dilemma that Susanna was in, that in trying to come up with marketing language, you risk leaving out the most important part of your story!
The True Spirit of Susanna’s Work
So, this is what Susanna developed as the big picture True Spirit of her Work:
The True Spirit of my work is to bring a sense of hope, love, respect and joy to Gaia, the world,
by reweaving humanity back into the fabric of nature and the wildness of the more than human world.
Recovering our innately indigenous way of being in relationship with life and allowing that to find creative, new expression in our contemporary time.
Calling forth the feminine and masculine polarities and uniting them in sacred marriage with each other in all manners of contacts.
Fostering an evolutionary perspective that inspires humanity to see how life is wanting to evolve itself to the particular calling of each person.
Restoring the sacred to the practice of business so we can come into right relationship with the sacred cycle of giving and receiving and co-creating a new, life-affirming economy based on love.
Also, that humanity can successfully navigate the perilous initiation it’s struggling with and cross the threshold into adulthood as a species, allowing us to come into right relationship with the myriad complex, interweaving threads of life, because it’s become broken and tangled.
Through this, reweave our precious world at this time in a great journey.
So, I invite you to pause for a moment and take in what Susanna is saying. I want you to imagine the kind of courage it takes to actually say something like this and put it in writing and make it available, if not to the whole world, to me and to the other people in the group she was in, and to actually have the courage to say, “This is what I stand for.”
Particularly when you’ve been getting message after message saying, “Nobody cares about that, nobody wants to hear that, that’s not marketable.” People just want to hear how to put up their websites, right?
In this language, you start to hear who Susanna is and what she’s here to stand for, and you start to hear what really makes her not just a business coach, but something much, much more.
The Power of Claiming the Truer Message
Here’s what Susanna said about what happened for her as a result of putting this True Spirit together.
I felt an enormous sense of relief. First of all, it was actually there, I had a message. I hadn’t killed it off.
I felt a kind of a sense of astonishment that it felt really big, and here’s the interesting thing. It felt much more right, much more of a fit than the smaller things I have been tossing around in the business coaching.
I stepped into the rightness of what I’m here to do.
It’s funny how the smaller things I said I did in my business coaching, I’d get all freaked out and question myself: “Really, how will you do that?” This is so much bigger but I feel like, “Oh, yes, of course, I can do that.”
You might think that claiming something this big would scare the crap out of you, and yet Susanna felt an ease with it that she didn’t have when she was trying to be someone she wasn’t.
Freeing Up the Writing Flow
Once we developed this True Spirit, and began translating this into the public language (elevator speech, web copy, free report, etc.), a number of things began to shift for Susanna. Here’s how she describes it:
First thing I did was I started writing. I wrote a beautiful website giveaway on Sacred Selling and then I wrote the copy for my website. Then I started publishing a newsletter and actually really enjoying it. I started getting these comments from people, outstanding comments like, “Susanna, this is the most beautiful, touching, inspiring and motivating thing I’ve ever read.” I couldn’t believe it.
Then I started speaking. The first thing I spoke of was Sacred Selling and I wove in all that stuff about the sacred in business and the right relationship and reciprocity. People loved it and what I discovered was, you know what, that while there is truth to the fact that people want to be told what to do, more than that, people want to be inspired. What I learned through freeing up my language, I learned how to inspire.
I remember as Susanna went through the training, I keep niggling at her to keep bringing in this big picture stuff, to keep tying the practical stuff she was writing about back to the bigger scope and meaning, because that’s what makes her program different from any other selling class.
Now, I can really hold a much bigger container and create the much bigger picture around sacred in business, both from a paradigm shift and also like practical. I take them to both end and fuse them together.
Part of what we see in Susanna is this courage to step out with a bigger message, with these themes of restoring the sacred to business and being in business while being in right relationship. The willingness to do all the work to present yourself and your ideas grows when you are madly in love with what you’re offering.
The willingness to do all the work to present
yourself and your ideas grows when you are
madly in love with what you’re offering.
A New Relationship with Clients
Susanna also noticed a difference in the way new clients would come to her:
Some of the early clients I got, I could help them, but it was kind of like having a job like, “Okay, what do you need help with?” What I find now is the clients who come to me, they love my energy and they love it because I’m expressing it. I’m no longer like a cardboard cutout. You know, the cardboard cutout that looks good and looks shiny, but isn’t actually a full three-dimensional person.
Now I’m getting clients that really resonate with my message, and I’m loving them. I’m just loving them.
One of my clients said to me, “You’re my person. I’ve been around different experts but I want to work with you for the long haul.”
How cool is that? You see, being in business is not just about getting clients. It’s really getting those clients who respond to us on such a deep level that there is a deeper commitment to working with us because of what we have the courage to bring forward.
Developing the Capacity to Write and Speak More Easily for the Long Haul
Susanna: In addition to all of the beautiful words that I created and language that came forth in me in working with you, I now have the capacity to just generate as much of that as I want. As I continue to evolve and my business continues to evolve, that will come out more and more. You haven’t just handed me a pile of fish, you’ve taught me how to fish. Now, I can do that forever. I’m deeply grateful for you and your genius and the fact that you said yes to it, and I love you.