DON’T BE A GURU – BE A CONTRIBUTOR INSTEAD
A while ago, I did a post about 37 lessons from becoming a self-made millionaire and #35 was:
“I’m a contributor, not a guru. As soon as I gave myself permission to contribute to the conversation of women and money, and not have to be a guru or expert, then my business became fun. If you really care about a topic, be a contributor. Who cares if you don’t know everything. You don’t have to be the best to make a difference to someone.”
The response was kind of unexpected. I had people screenshotting that section, and messaging me to say how powerful it was, and what a relief to hear that they don’t have to be a Guru in order to be successful.
Today, I want to expand on that and tell you exactly what I mean.
When I really “got” this – everything changed in my business. I gave myself permission to show up exactly as I am. It helped me to feel excited about offering my work to the world. To make offers to potential clients and to extend invitations for people to join my Money Bootcamp, even though I wasn’t Suze Orman. Even though I’m not Oprah.
I also became a lot less precious about my own work, because I know that it doesn’t have to be the most original or unique. I also worry less about competitors because I care so much about the overall mission – that women change the way they think and feel about money. How can I begrudge anyone talking about it when we all achieve the same outcome?!
The pressure was off!
Here are some more thoughts for you.
Your movement needs many voices including YOURS
If you really care about your mission – maybe it’s for more people to do yoga, or to increase the market for sustainable clothes, or women to have more self-love, then stop thinking that the market is too crowded for you.
This isn’t a “Highlander” situation. There can be more than one in your field. In fact, embrace it.
Yours might be the voice that tips your passion into the mainstream, and that’s a good thing. More customers for everyone!
Are you worried that you’ll be crowded out? Or you won’t stand out in the crowd?
Well, now’s the time to be YOU. Be as original as you can. Keep your eye on your own work, and trust that you’ll find the right audience for YOU.
There are many paths to the same outcome, and every industry has it’s own niches within niches, and different price points too.
Every industry needs diversity (more than ever, right?), and customers are crying out for role models who look and sound like them. Show up and inspire them.
Gurus want people to follow their particular brand of “religion” forsaking all others. You don’t need ALL THE FOLLOWERS, just the people who want to see and hear from YOU.
Share other people’s voices too, and don’t be resentful of other contributors. There’s room for all of you. Don’t be offended if someone you love follows another contributor – be respectful of different personality types – they might learn better from someone else.
The movement needs your voice, so show up!
Empower others to find their own answers
Gurus tell people what they should think. Gurus think there is one answer and they want their followers to be reliant on them alone.
Contributors let people find their own answers. In a practical sense that means helping people follow their own intuition and develop their own self-awareness.
If you’re a coach, that means asking your clients “What do YOU think that means?” Not in a dickish way, but because most of the time, people really do know what they want. They just need permission to express it.
You don’t have to know everything… and here’s the other important thing.
Ask good questions
Part of helping people find their own answers is not being their only source to information. If you’re a leader of others, that means asking them questions, so they find their own answer.
In my Money Bootcamp Facebook group, I could be answering questions all dang day long (we have 3,000 women in there). But instead I ask people to go within and see what stories they are telling about their own beliefs, to go back to the material and formulate their own answers.
I often say to people, “There’s no right or wrong, it’s only how it makes you feel. So how do you feel about that?”
You can’t tell people how to think and feel. You can help them dig deeper into finding out WHY it’s happening, and what choice they want to make instead.
A common question in my groups is “What’s the origin story?” When did you first feel this way, and what’s the original memory you need to release?
You don’t need all the answers – get good at asking questions. Start conversations and welcome differing opinions.
Build a community, not a following
There’s a tendency in this social media world to count the number of “followers” you have, and I’ve used this language too.
However, think of it as a community that you’re a part of, not necessarily always leading. You can be a member, not the ONLY one who has the answers, and you can curate lots of different answers for your community.
One of the best thing you can do is to create safe spaces for other people to explore the topic too. This could be a free or paid Facebook group to share ideas and encouragement.
Practice and role model good boundaries
When people follow gurus they can get really reliant on their advice and counsel. I’ve seen people blindly follow business gurus without considering if their business model is right for them, or if the advice works for their industry.
If you’re a leader of a community, it can be exhausting to have so many people looking to you for the “right” answer, or to be everything to everyone.
Practice good boundaries, and when you role model it for others, you give them permission too. It’s okay to say no to requests for your time. It’s okay to not work with everyone. It’s okay to say, “No, that doesn’t work for me.”
Chill your ego
You’re not the first and you won’t be the last, so give up the idea that you have to be the Only. You’re one in a long lineage of teachers. There’s nothing original anyway, so stop pressuring yourself that you have to come up with something totally unique.
Same with haters. Don’t take it personally. It’s got nothing to do with you. Everyone has haters, even saints.
You also don’t have to be everything to everyone. It’s okay for not everything to be your business – some things can be hobbies, or passing interests.
Stop trying to be the expert in EVERYTHING. It’s distracting from your true purpose.
It’s great for your ego to be the “go-to guru” for everything, but it’s really liberating when you can say “Sorry, I don’t know, that’s not my zone of genius. Have you tried Google?”
It takes the pressure off, right?
People need to hear the basics
Gurus have dogma but in the contributor’s world, there are many ways to the same path.
You might think that every topic is done to death, but it’s not. People need to hear the basics again and again. By different people. In different flavors. For their industry, and their exact situation.
For example – how many freaking articles are there about “how to get your baby to sleep?” But there’s always new mamas googling it at 3am, trying to find a reassuring voice in language they understand, by someone they resonate with. (Trust me, I’ve been that mama.)
There’s not one definite answer to most problems. Your audience wants to hear YOUR take. You might think “everyone knows this.” They don’t.
Some topics never go out of style – they just need to be refreshed and customized to your audience.
Don’t be perfect. Be honest.
Lots of women fear growing their businesses because they think they have to be perfect, or have it all figured out. Like an untouchable guru.
Everyone has fraud syndrome, but women especially are so worried, they’ll be found out. What if people find out that I fuck up sometimes? What if they knew that …. ?
The best way to avoid this is to put it all out there. Be honest. Just tell your truth. Nobody can take away your story (and nobody can copy it either). No-one can “unmask” you if you take the mask of yourself.
Guess what will happen? People will LOVE it.
My “behind the scenes” articles are my most popular, and I hardly had to think about them. I just tell the truth!
Be honest about your fears, your fuck-ups, vulnerabilities and mistakes. It gives other women in your community permission to be imperfect too.
Tell people they aren’t alone, and they’ll love you for it.
Don’t wait for permission
Gurus are “chosen”, but anyone can be a contributor. You don’t have to wait to be anointed by someone. You can just start!
Nobody is going to tap you on the shoulder or recognize your greatness from the back of the room. You’re going to have to stand up and allow yourself to be counted. “Who do you think you are?” – you’re a contributor – you have every right to be there!
This more than ever is my final message on this:
It’s YOUR time and you’re ready for the next step.
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