People are looking for the thing that only you have.
We want to be touched. We want to be inspired. We want to be encouraged. We want to be nudged.
The practice of engaging people via written and recorded words has taught me this.
I’ve spent the last seven months slowly building the habit of regularly pushing past the terror of exposing myself and sharing my story with the world. This means “hitting send” on weeks when I thought I didn’t have anything valuable to say. “Hitting send” without having checked for grammar or typos. Making “hitting send” the most important thing I do on Monday morning.
Last week, after months of preparation, I did something relatively simple but profoundly transformative. I promoted The Grind and my podcast across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram every day for a week. You would think that after months of writing some of my most personal thoughts that this would have been no problem.
Nope. The first 48 hours were terrifying. Fantastically terrifying.
I exposed new areas where I was hiding and afraid. Thoughts started ringing in my head like:
– “How can I post this stuff on LinkedIn?”
– “Isn’t that inappropriate?”
– “Won’t people on Facebook be mad that I’m oversharing?”
– “People on Instagram want to see pictures, not commercials for my content!”
Those were the thoughts that ran through my head as I kept hitting send.
These fearful thoughts were shallow. I was worried about things like how many likes I would get on a post and what it would mean if all of a sudden, my post engagement started dropping . I know it seems silly, but society has made those numbers representative of our worth in some sad way.
And yes, the numbers on last week’s posts were lower than my usual selfies or pictures of my hair getting done or me doing something athletic.
But then the direct messages started lighting up my phone. The new subscribers to The Grind began to roll in. People I never thought would be impacted by my work started to share it with their network. Two people reached out and said they were inspired to share their stories. Even my old friend, who was part of my childhood story in Canarsie reached out, and we recommitted our familial love for each other.
As lovely as it is to impact tens, hundreds, and thousands of people, if my work truly changed only one human in a transformative way it would be worth it.
Shallow thinking gets shallow results. Shallow work has nothing to do with my purpose. This work is narrow and deep.
I have learned from past mistakes in trying to do meaningful, deep work the importance of consistency over completeness. Better to do one thing every day than everything for only a few days.
I’ve learned that I achieve consistency when I break my big goal down into smaller goals and layer them in. Last week, I wasn’t worried about hitting send on The Grind because I spent the last seven months working through that fear. These days if I didn’t write the Grind, I know my week will miss a bit of its meaning.
Instead, I focused on leading my small team in publishing our promotional content, which was way more complicated and terrifying than I anticipated. But that was fine because it was the only challenge related to this work that I had for the week. This week, it remains the only challenge. We learn from last week, we improve, and I face the fear once again with a bit more confidence.
I expect it will take months before this feels normal. And until it feels normal, I will not add anything else to this plate.
You may not have the same fears as I do, but I imagine some shallow fear is standing in between you and your full realization of your purpose. I encourage you to find the smallest action that would challenge that fear, and do it consistently. Weekly at least, daily if possible. Go narrow and deep.
We make our impact by dissolving our fears over time, one at a time, remembering that impact isn’t measured by volume but by depth.
Be encouraged and have a grateful day.