Open for business?

One of the talks I give is called “Open for Business”. It’s all about how we block ourselves from receiving, by creating an unconscious definition of ourselves.

In today’s connected world, where you can reach a vast number of people all across the globe, the usual advice is that you need to narrow down the people you are trying to speak to.  And that’s true – no-one can be an expert (genius, in my language) at everything and for everyone.  So, the received wisdom goes, you need to define your audience, define your offering, define your positioning, and define yourself. All in the interests of achieving that narrow focus that will make your marketing more effective.

But there’s a problem there: all definition is, by definition, a limitation. Once something is defined, everything else, it’s not. If your audience is defined as men, then you don’t want women. If your product is defined as a child’s toy, then it’s not for adults. If you have defined your positioning as high-end luxury, you’re not entry-level.

That limitation can be very useful, of course. It stops you wasting time, money, effort and resources on what you don’t want. Knowing you don’t want to attract price-sensitive buyers can be very helpful in avoiding irritating conversations with people who are never going to pay your rates.  And it helps you avoid spreading your expertise too thin, becoming a jack-of-all-trades. (As an aside, there is nothing wrong with being a generalist, IF that’s a conscious choice).

As you become more and more defined about your business, there is a danger that those definitions may ‘bleed over’ into who you show up as in the world. And that’s where you risk closing off your ability to receive possibilities. “I’m not that sort of person”. “That’s just not me.” “I don’t do that.” That often happens unconsciously, and that’s when it becomes a problem.

Limitations that you choose are great – they keep you out of trouble! You might ask why anyone would deliberately choose to be limited. After all, we’re all infinite beings aren’t we? And infinite beings don’t have limitations.  But you’re here having a human experience, and when you’re choosing to interact with this reality, it’s useful to be able to cut out all the extraneous stuff that’s not going to get you where you plan to go.

It’s the limitations that just sort of creep in under the radar will really hold you back. They can stop you noticing what’s truly possible for you. Because those unconscious definitions are rarely the real you. They’re a distortion, based on convenience, fear or conformity. And they stop you from achieving everything that you have the potential to be.

Perhaps an example might help. Last year, I was approached to do some business planning for the clients of a tax consultancy. I know; me, working for a tax consultancy! Weird, right?  And that was my response too. “That’s too serious for me!” “I’m not that corporate.” “I’d have wear a suit, for goodness sake!” My definitions of myself as a light-hearted, conscious, independent businessman caused me to instantly shut down the possibility.

Then I gave it some thought. OK, so these are probably people who are not looking for personal growth, and that’s my thing. But maybe I could help them have better lives anyway. They were looking to reduce tax, so they were likely to be money-driven too, and that’s not my thing either. But what were they going to do with the money they saved, probably not just stick it in the bank. And what about the suit thing, well I actually enjoy looking sharp in a suit, I just don’t like to have to wear one (that’s a hangover from my somewhat painful exit from the corporate world).

So I made the choice to set aside all those unhelpful definitions of myself.  I put on a suit, and I met with the directors. And what they were looking for was exactly what I love doing – opening up the possibilities for people who had become too focused on their one way of doing things. Creating better, more exciting lives for people. Helping people create a life and living that they love, and a legacy for future generations. Oh, and by the way, you get to buck the system while you’re about it!

The point is, my unconscious definitions of my business and myself had prevented me from even seeing the possibility. I could have chosen to remain closed to working with them, and stuck to my jeans and my already-conscious business owners. And I could have missed out on a great bit of business, that it turns out is great fun, immensely fulfilling, and rather well-paid.

So my question for you today is, where are you allowing unconscious definitions of yourself to limit the business that you are open for?

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Photo by Artem Bali on Unsplash

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About The Author

Andrew Horder

Founder of Joyful Genius Coaching, Andrew has been working with business owners for many years, helping them find and maintain their unique focus - those activities and opportunities that they love, and will produce their success, what Andrew calls your Joyful Genius! Andrew's first book, The A to Z of Loving Work is available from Amazon

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