Why Most Core Message Work Falls Short

Yesterday, we talked about what it takes to have a funky, maverick business.

There are many wonderful tools and processes to help you get more clarity about who you are and to find words to share that with others. You can work on your niche, juice up your elevator speech, write red-hot copy, define your unique selling proposition, and many more.

But sometimes that work doesn’t stick. It ends up feeling . . . not right. It bores you, or it makes the wrong promise. Or you change directions and have to start over.

I think there are reasons that people come back to me after 8 years and say that their True Spirit statements are still on target, still bring them back home to themselves, still guide their choices, still inform their language.

There’s a reason that people change their game when the True Spirit comes into focus.

Reason #1: The True Spirit statement is based on you, not your product, your service, or your audience.

If you are going to engage with the world from a place of integrity, you need to know on a deep level who you are and what you’re here to do. You need to have a way to stand on that, even when the world shows up with, as poet David Whyte says, “its harsh need to change you.”

As critical as it is to know who your audience is and what they want, it’s also easy to lose the fierceness in the presence of someone else’s need and desire.

That’s why you need to first know who you are before you start asking how you can be of service. Before you start solving other people’s problems.

If a core message is really core, then what it describes should be essential, unchanging. And you won’t find what’s at your core by looking out in the marketplace.

Reason #2: The True Spirit is an expression of the themes and threads you’ve been working with throughout your life, not just what you are doing now.

We all know that business changes at the speed of light. Trends come and go. New markets are born and die. Money shifts to different sectors. Fortunes are made and lost.

So the nature of what we offer, the form it takes, what we call it, all can change in the blink of an eye.

But if we know what doesn’t change, what’s always been true, what continues to be true, then when our business changes, the actual message changes just a little. Because we are still the ones delivering the message. And the things that matter to us, the things we care about, the things we want the most for others stay in place.

So, how do we do that? We look at your life, the key moments and experiences, and we actually look away for a moment from what you do now to get the seeds, and themes and threads that have been at work in you all this time.

Reason #3: The True Spirit is written to resonate with you, not to please other people.

Business is funny. If we don’t please other people, we don’t make money.

But ironically, nothing pleases people more than to hear something they weren’t expecting, to be taken someplace they hadn’t thought they could go, or to be invited into a world they never imagined.

And you can’t create any of those things if you aren’t connected to what brings you alive. That’s why with the True Spirit, I look to find words and phrases that resonate deeply for you, that connect you so strongly to yourself that the best and brightest parts of you come to life.

You see, if your True Spirit brings you to life, it’s very little additional work to make it come alive for others.

Reason #4: The True Spirit is based on the notion that you have a unique access to universal wisdom.

Another way to say this is: your True Spirit is your best expression of your meaning of life, the answer to the big question, “why are you here on the planet?”

If you believe you’ve been brought here for a reason, and not a random accident, the True Spirit captures why you’ve been brought here. It describes the small slice of human experience that you understand more deeply, love more strongly than most other people.

And when you know that it gives you fire to go out into the world. And it’s a wonderful place to engage your audience from.

There’s a lot of talk these days about “spiritual” marketing. (And I do believe that marketing can be a deeply spiritual practice.) But, often, when you look below the surface, what’s being taught is not very deeply spiritual. The underlying message can be “give up who you are to be what others want you to be,” or “follow my guidance, don’t trust your own” or “that won’t work no matter how much you’re guided to do it.”

To me, spiritual practice requires faith in the unseen and the unknown. It requires believing that you were created for a reason and trusting what is meant to come through you, and to not lose that faith or that commitment to what comes through you for all the trinkets and temptations in the world.