marketing with heart

Leave the heart in - Part 2: The myth of 'if you love it, it's easy'.

What is it? An adage? A maxim? Perhaps it’s a myth with just a sprinkling or hint of truth left in it. That in terms of work, if you love it, it’s easy.

 

And so it goes that if you want to love your work, then you have to find something you love doing … And it will be easy, breezy, lemon squeezy. Right?

 

Well let's just qualify that. Yes, when you love what you do, it is a lot easier - you only have to think of a day in a job you hate or doing work that bores you to death to understand that. But it's also slightly simplistic and probably even somewhat mythical as well. Yes, I do agree that if everyone was doing work they loved, then the world would be a brighter place. Everything clicks into place a lot better when we do what we love -  our talents are naturally utilised, we have a lot more internal drive, natural motivation and creativity. Agree.

 

However, there is another side to that belief and that is that when you really care about something and your heart's fully in it, it can get hard. Very, very hard.

 

Caring deeply about something, your mission, a message, your brand, your vision, can get very emotional. It’s the heart and the emotion that gives it life and inspires others to connect and invest their emotions too. It makes what you do real and the connections you form with other people real because it really matters. It’s the heart in things that make them stand out.

 

But it’s not always easy.

 

Yesterday I was writing about how doing things a bit differently (Leave the heart in - Part 1), doing things from the heart, can sometimes feel a bit uncomfortable, even a bit wrong, but that just because it feels that way doesn’t mean it is wrong and definitely doesn’t mean you should quit. Having your heart in something can make it difficult to separate yourself from the opinion of others, especially if it's negative, and not take things personally. You can get too caught up in it, too close, and lose your perspective. The truth is, you can become a little obsessed. Brightly inspired is good. It comes from something deep inside and resonates with meaning that acts like a magnet to others, but having your heart in something also means you can get hurt. It can be extremely stressful just because you care so damn much and will do almost anything to see that vision to reality. And sometimes that bright inspiration can tip over into white knuckle obsession. That's when you can't let go, maybe you can't sleep, it's hard to slow down and small things seem enormously upsetting.

 

When having your heart in something starts to feel like this, you can start to doubt whether it's worth it and whether you really actually care about it like you thought you did after all. It's confusing and it can all feel very, very wrong. The really sad thing is that when people who really care about something and have fully invested their heart and soul start to feel like this, they often start thinking their thing is wrong. That their heart was wrong after all. That actually they can't really love it because if they did, wouldn't it be easy? No, having your heart in it can be a lot harder than not because with your heart in it, you've got more skin in the game - a whole heart in the game and that is certainly not always easy.

 

But does that mean it's wrong? Does that mean the thing you loved and believed in is no longer worth it?
Probably not. So here's the thing, before you give up on it because it feels too hard and therefore feel sure that clearly it's wrong, ease the load first. Talk to your good friends and supporters and clients and customers who believe in what you do - they'll remind you of its worth because they're not as close to it as you are and won't have lost their perspective. Outsource the stuff that you're not so good at, the stuff that saps your time and energy, leaves you feeling deflated, spent and robs energy from the parts you put your heart into.

 

Get rid of some of the sand, the jobs that don't utilise your unique strengths, but keep the heart in it. The whole thing's not wrong, heart's not wrong, it's just been overwhelmed by all the demands of loving and really caring about something. Don't make the mistake of thinking that because it's no longer easy, that it's wrong. Change it around, iterate, improve, but leave the heart in it. If you take the heart out of your business, take the heart of your marketing and communications, then you’ve left nothing for people to connect with … and then what’s the point?

 

Heart is not the problem. Get rid of some of the other stuff so that keeping your heart in the game is easier, more sustainable, but leave the heart in. At the end of the day, it’s the only thing that keeps your business human. 

Photo credit: BruceEmmerling via pixabay - http://pixabay.com/en/new-york-city-building-tower-224396/

 

Leave the heart in - Part 1: How to tell if it's actually wrong or whether it just feels wrong because your heart's in it

Sometimes doing things a little bit differently can feel pretty uncomfortable and often downright scary. Just because it’s different can make it feel bad even when it’s right. That’s why in business especially, we tend to avoid that feeling and go with what we know, or what we’re told we should know and what has always worked … for everyone else. With what the stats say, what the analyst says, the market indicators, the current condition, the economic climate. You know, business is business right? We’ve always done it this way - question that wisdom at your own peril … or would you be brave enough to do things differently if you really believed something was important enough? Even when doing it feels all weird and confronting and, well, like it’s wrong?

 

I had this experience recently with something totally unrelated to work, but it made me think about how it feels to do something different and why it can feel wrong even when we’re sure it’s good or right. This year I wanted to do something different to the usual teacher thank you cards passed around for parents to sign at the end of the school year. That works really well and actually we still did that again this year, but I wanted to do something that was from the kids, that they’d created and contributed to themselves. So my kids and I came up with this idea to cut out lots of butterflies and hearts for all the kids write on and decorate. Once they were all done, we thought we’d make a collage of thank you messages.

 

Great idea and everyone was enthusiastically onboard. It’s just that when it came to making the collage, it became clear that my talent as an artist extends only as far as the idea. I do have some wonderful, visionary (ok, maybe lofty) ideas, but my skills in actual implementation means it’s often a good idea to outsource (and that leads me to another discussion about knowing your strengths and outsourcing your weaknesses, but I’ll post that tomorrow). Anyway, after all this organising and collecting and coordinating the hearts and butterflies, I was sadly disappointed when I came to put it all together.

 

I was almost overwhelmed by the feeling that what I’d created wasn’t good enough and that I’d wasted people’s time in trying to do something different. I felt embarrassed about putting myself out there and I was wishing I hadn’t. What I wished was that I’d just stuck to what we’d always done - buy a card, pass it around for the parents to sign and kick in some cash. I really regretted trying to do something with more meaning and although I knew it was the thought that counted, I didn’t feel that way. I felt like I’d done something wrong.

 

The truth is that sometimes that weird feeling, that vulnerability, is a good thing because it shows that what you're doing still has the heart left in it - that it's a real, living and breathing thing that matters. It feel wrong not because it is wrong, but because we’re not used to feeling that way. We have a tendency to play it safe, toe the line, do what’s done because we equate fear with an indication that something’s wrong. It comes from our crocodile brain that had to protect us from predators way back in the dark ages, but hasn’t changed much with the times. Actually we’re mostly pretty safe now and sometimes that feeling's just discomfort about showing heart when we've been conditioned to think that's a risky business.

 

Ok, so maybe showing heart is "risky". Maybe you are being vulnerable, but is that necessarily bad? What if your intentions are pure and you really care about this thing, should you not do it because it feels awkward and weird? Is that enough of a reason to retreat back into ordinary?

Well here's a test; does that fear of being vulnerable open your heart or close it? Do you feel expansive or smaller? Closer to what's true and real and on your path, or further from it?


Compare that to the alternative. How do you feel when you think about going safe, toeing the line, keeping the heart out, tried and true, 'best practice'? A little bit dead perhaps? A little bit deflated? Smaller, blander, safer, more ho-hum? Constricted by any chance?


Is that the way you want to connect with people? Is that the way you want to show up? Maybe it is, and that's fine. You'll know if it's fine for you because you won't have a weird feeling of fear and there really won't be an issue. If that's the case, good for you, go for it. But if your inner voice is shaking its head and saying, "We could, but I don't know, it just doesn't feel right", then that's your guy. You've got to put the heart back in and listen to that inner voice.


And what's the worst that could happen? So what if it's not perfect, polished, praised by the analyst and approved by the board? Leaving the heart in takes some work, it's a bit rougher than the polished tried and true. So iterate. Get comfortable with the feeling and learn. Improve. Make it better, polish it, argue the point, sell it, solve it, ship it. But leave the heart in. You're trying a new path, a path that feels a bit scary, but which has the potential to connect more and be more meaningful. It feels weird because heart’s not always common, not because it's wrong. You can make it better, you can SEO it, polish it more, edit it more, research it more, analyse it more, but leave the heart in it - that's the bit that's right, not the bit that's wrong.