January 18, 2017

Big fish or little fish... what's right for you?



It's a new year, and with a new year comes lots of marketing hyperbole. Lots of "New year, new you!" and "Step into your greatness!" kinds of posts, articles and of course, paid programs.

Every January, I feel the pressure. Do you feel the pressure? To be bigger, bolder, more recognized, more successful (on someone else's terms...)?

I feel the pressure to have big events, make big money (used to be just six figures—now I'm seeing a lot more seven figure pressure), get big name clients. I feel the pressure to get media interviews, be on magazine covers and blow my competition out of the water.

I feel the pressure for more more more more more.

And I do want more. I do want to grow my business and I do want to make more money. And I understand that the more visibility and recognition I get for my work, the more people I can reach and the more people I can serve.

I get that.

But here's the thing: If all I focus on is "more," at the expense of what I really care about and what really moves and motivates me, then it's not worth it.

I don't want "more" for the sake of "more." What I want is to serve the people who need me most, who value my coaching and training the most, and who will implement the new skills they've learned with eagerness.

I work with a lot of different kinds of clients, individual coaching clients, group coaching clients and corporate training clients. I especially love working with nonprofits, because that's the sector where I spent 16 years and even co-founded my own organization.

I know that the work people do in the nonprofit sector comes straight from a place of wanting to improve their communities, straight from the heart. Sometimes those who work or volunteer for nonprofits have personal experience with the particular cause they support.

This was the case with a group I trained in September 2016, called Lived Experience Advocacy Development (LEAD), a speakers bureau comprising clients of Transitions-Mental Health Association who have mental health diagnoses and have been homeless. The LEAD team addresses public policy organizations to advocate for projects serving homeless community members who also have mental illness.

Most recently, they have addressed the City of Santa Maria Planning Commission, Santa Maria City Council, Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, and the Santa Barbara County Mental Health Commission, among other groups, to speak out in support of a local housing project and on a statewide bill that made funds available to communities to provide supportive housing to people living with a severe mental illness and are either homeless or are at risk of homelessness.

There was so much camaraderie and conviction among the members of the group; this is not just an issue that affects someone "out there." Each of the members of LEAD is intimately acquainted with the experiences of those they now advocate for. It's a powerful feeling to listen to a speaker who is 100% fired up, committed to their message and committed to making a real impact.

One morning in December, I opened Facebook to find this post on my timeline:








This was shared by Girlie Ford, one of the members of LEAD.

I've also received notes from Cathie Ortiz, another LEAD member, who has kept me updated on their speaking engagements:
"We did it Lisa! Me n Patricia Faulkner belted it out. Youda been so proud. Man I love this feeling!!! WOOHOO!"
I know that many of my clients experience these feelings of elation with speaking success. And when they feel this way, I feel it too!

This is what makes me happy. This is what motivates me to go to work every day. This is why I do what I do.

Sometimes I get all starry-eyed watching big-name speakers on those big stages with hundreds or thousands in the audience, and I have to say, it looks pretty appealing, including a five-figure check for an hour of speaking.

But in the past 18 months or so, I've come to a realization that small workshops with committed participants are where I want to be. I have to acknowledge that this is where I shine, it's where I effect the most change, and it's what I love to do more than anything.

I love the small group coaching and training experience, watching my clients blossom, and seeing their confidence in their abilities just explode. I've been doing this for 20+ years, but it's finally sinking in that it's what I want to do, not just what I do.

The LEAD members are smart, articulate, funny, insightful, courageous, and are working really hard to nail this stuff down. Some of the group members already had speaking experience before our workshop, but one personal had literally NEVER spoken in front of an audience before our training, and I felt so privileged to be part of that moment.

What I'm saying is that I'm a small fish in a big pond, and I like it here. I could be a bigger fish, and my business is still growing. But in my pond, there are still many people who need me and who value and embrace what they gain from working with me. The people in my pond are putting learning into action, taking huge leaps of faith, and reveling in their growth.

My pond is a pretty sweet place to be. How about your pond?

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