In the wake of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, there are questions in the air. My clients, students, people from around the world who correspond with me, and my professional colleagues are asking many things, of themselves and others. Many of these questions are similar, whether the people asking them supported the new president or opposed him.
“How will the coming changes affect me and my family?” is one common question. “What will all this uncertainty and upheaval mean for my business?” is another. I also hear people asking, “Is what I am doing really meaningful? After all, if I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, is this work where I truly want so many of my waking hours to be spent?”
It all adds up to a time of doubt, rethinking, even total confusion about where you are headed and what to do next. For me, what uncertain times require is the assurance that only comes from being firmly grounded in your personal values and a sense of purpose. What does that have to do with marketing your business, you might ask? I think it has everything to do with it.
If you want to sell someone else on something, you had better believe in it 100%. If you’re having doubts; if you’re no longer sure that the business you are in is the right one to be in, how can you possibly be sincere in your marketing?
We’ve all been sold to by an inauthentic salesperson, and hated the experience. As a self-employed consultant or professional, what you are selling is you. You have to believe in yourself or no one else will. If you find yourself now in a questioning place, perhaps it’s the right time to better align what you do for a living with what you want to do for a life.
Many folks have told me lately that they want to be of service in some way. I don’t think there is any more powerful way to be of service than to earn one’s living at it. Why? Because that is the place where your vocation meets your avocation, your labor intersects with your values, and the purpose of your day joins with your purpose for being alive.
This is the concept of right livelihood, well known to Buddhist teachers and modern writers such as Marsha Sinetar, who describes it as work “consciously chosen.” She also assures us that it doesn’t have to mean vows of poverty.
Here’s what I believe. I try to consciously choose my own work to honor some of my highest values: being of service, creative expression, and freedom of choice. Until I found this work over twenty years ago, I wandered from one career and business enterprise to the next, with minimal success at any of them. Marketing was always a struggle. I was afraid to do it and procrastinated to avoid it.
When everything turned around for me was the moment I declared I would have a business that honored my values. As soon as I did this, marketing became effortless, and more than that, overwhelmingly successful. I could speak authentically about my belief in what I was doing, and people I had never met suddenly believed in me.
Some of you reading this are working in a business you don’t fully believe in. My prescription for you is simple: get out, and find something else. You want to survive and thrive in an uncertain marketplace? Finding and following your right livelihood will give it to you. (I’m speaking from experience — the U.S. slid into a recession just when I chose to redirect my career path, and my business has survived all the economic ups and downs of the decades since.)
For my readers who believe they are on the path of right livelihood already, I gently invite you to look again. What action have you not taken, what territory haven’t you entered because you fear what might happen if you do? Just notice that fear and uncertainty show up on their own schedule — whether you take action or you don’t. If are already experiencing these emotions right now, it may be the perfect moment to take some steps in a new direction.