If your business or brand grows quickly, your content and offers can start to sprawl like Dallas or LA suburbs.
If you’ve been a creative juggler for years, you eventually can get distracted, fatigued, and confused about where to focus your finite energy, talent, and effort.
Whether sprawling or juggling, I’ve found it helps to have an axis.
Just One Thing
Her eyes looked tired. A musician, coach, sound healer, big event planner and maker, b & b retreat owner, and single mom of 3 girls sat across from me.
We were starting her VIP Day at the Mohonk Mountain House. For years she had told herself a lie about freedom.
That lie of freedom goes something like this: “I don’t want to be pinned down. I want to be free to create and do whatever I want whenever I want.”
That idea of freedom is simply a reaction to perceived rigidity and constriction. It’s not freedom. True freedom comes from liberating yourself from old patterns so you can advance your best work with the greatest impact.
Being pinned down? That’s often an unconscious form of resistance not to stand up and commit to our best work for the moment.
David Bowie, David Byrne, David Lynch, Elvis Costello. Are those guys pinned down? No. But at every creative and business artist iteration, they owned who they were and what they had to offer.
I didn’t say all of this to my client. I didn’t need to. Her tired yet beautiful eyes told me she already knew it.
Me: ”By the end of the day, what do you most want?”
She: [Sigh] “I just want one thing. I want all that I do to make sense. I want to stop spinning my wheels.”
Me: “And you want a return you deserve?”
She: “Yes. I can admit that now. Yes!”
Me: “Good. Your owning your one thing is connected to your earning the return you deserve. Let’s get to work. Let’s make possibility happen.”
And we did. We had been working together for several months, and I came prepped with a 35-page one-year playbook not of prescriptions but of actionable possibilities.
We uncovered her axis. Really, her Brand Story and the integral strategy to unfold over the course of a year was her axis. It is what at last drew together all she does and helped her filter out what no longer to do. And more.
Finding the Story you and your business or brand stands for doesn’t happen overnight or even after reading this piece. Every thriving founder or innovator knows himself or herself profoundly. And they keep examining their core values, their key strengths & personality traits, how they captivate and elevate. And more.
And it requires profound empathy. It requires getting out of your way and listening, really listening to the people you desire to engage and make their lives better.
But there’s something more. And it’s this something more that many professionals, creatives, and business owners don’t get.
But lawyer-turned-Love-Story-maker Jonathan Fields gets it.
Is Love All You Need?
Jonathan Fields left gut-wrenching SEC law to found two highly successful lifestyle & fitness enterprises – Sonic Yoga and Sedona Private Fitness. He’s since sold both companies.
Over the past few years, he has pivoted and rooted down into a project he calls The Good Life Project. A series of video interviews with innovators in all fields morphed into a multi-month immersion in personal and business growth, which in turn spawned Camp GLP – a four-day experience at a campground just outside of New York City.
Camp GLP is a love-fest of innovators from around the globe without the Woodstock drugs and alcohol (really – not allowed on premises).
Even among group-averse introverts (ahem), it’s a remarkable place to connect and have real human conversations sans networking or “being sold.”
At the event, JF talked about the original 10 Commandments of Epic Business he formed in 2011 when first gestating this project.
One of the commandments is thou shalt exalt love.
That’s a radical statement in business. It’s a radical statement for a former hardcore New York lawyer. More, it’s a radical endeavor to really try to live it and practice it.
I suspect what frightens some people away from proclaiming what they stand for is that then they are “on” to stand for it and to walk it while they talk it.
Jonathan is an open-hearted mentor and guide. It’s my view think that this commandment has increasingly become Jonathan’s axis ideal. Increasingly, I’ve heard him and watched him center much of the Good Life Project around love.
Jonathan is increasingly telling a Love Story.
A Love Story draws us in based on our deep longing to belong, to connect, to feel intimate with another, with a community, with a cause.
Because JF’s aims have integrity, people’s hearts crack open. Mine did last year at camp. And it did again this year.
Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia is also telling a Love Story with their current them of BELONG ANYWHERE.
That kind of Story can’t be faked. It has to come from the founder’s core – or the founder has to keep reflecting on how to practice it day in, day out.
But not every professional, creative, thought leader, or brand needs to tell a Love Story. American Giant is currently telling its version of a Wonder Story – a story that appeals to our longing to be unique, to experience life’s richness & beauty & diversity.
I’m deep-fried in Story. I teethed as a twenty-something on Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung and Abraham Maslow and literature & mythology when I co-founded the Walden Institute in the ‘90s, a place devoted to advancing human potential.
We can embrace Story and Story Branding as an opportunity for radical accelerated self-expansion.
When we really stand up for our public life as part of our Quest, we have the privilege to bring our creative, existential, spiritual, and entrepreneurial talent to shape and unfold a signature Story and a signature presence.