Note: it is almost impossible to get on the Ask Havi list. This person got in by a. being one of my clients or students, b. flattering the hell out of my duck, and c. making life easy on me by being clear about what the question was and what details I could use.
Here’s the question. It’s a good one.
“You talk a lot about doing the thing and helping your right people. And I really (most of the time, at least) want to do my thing but I just can’t believe that my thing has any value.
“How do you have confidence that your thing is worth saying and/or offering and that it will be helpful for people? What if it’s boring? What if it’s not original?”
This has to feel really scary and frustrating.
And then on top of that, I’m getting that you’re also feeling anxious because you need to know that your work will actually help people.
And you want to be able to trust that focusing on doing your thing is a worthwhile investment of your time and energy.
That makes sense.
So … I think I might be able to help here.
A few thoughts. Three, to be exact.
Thought 1: Let’s assume your worst fears are correct.
Let’s pretend that what you have to say is boring, unoriginal and stupid.
You know what? It’s STILL going to help people.
That’s because there is a weird, almost magical thing that happens when one person connects with another person with the intention of destuckifying something.
There’s power to that intention. And power to getting an outside perspective.
Also to being heard and acknowledged and validated and all that good stuff.
So if the people who need your thing show up with their stucknesses and their fears and their doubts, and your thing helps them, as I’m sure it will … who cares if you think it was trite and uninspired?
When you share your thing, I guarantee that at least five people’s lives will be transformed. Even on the days when you think your thing is boring and pointless.*
*I have those days too. All the time.
And if you can have a part in transforming people’s lives, you’re not going to hide from the people who need you, right?
Thought 2: Your stuff doesn’t have to be helpful for everyone.
It just needs to be helpful for the people who need it in that form in that moment.
Those are your Right People. The ones who need your voice.
Anyone who doesn’t find it helpful? Probably not one of your Right People. Or not ready yet.
That person can go. Be there for the ones who do need what you have to say.
(For more on this theme, take a look at some of the other posts in the Blogging Therapy series.)
Thought 3: Original? What’s that? And who cares?
Helpful and original are two totally unrelated things.
All of us can be helpful. Original? Not so much.
Here’s a completely unoriginal thought that was probably just as unoriginal when it was written:
There’s nothing new under the sun.**
**Go buy Ex Libris and read Anne Fadiman’s hilarious essay on plagiarism with that title.
And even if there is new stuff out there, it’s just not necessary to be all innovative to facilitate the life-shifting understandings that people will have from interacting with your thing.
Saying what you have to say in your voice at the right time is everything.
The thought doesn’t have to be creative or inventive or original (really, nothing I’m saying in this entire post is original).
Original is overrated. Because it’s going to help them whether you like it or not.
The unique bit is the way that you phrase it or explain it or demonstrate it. Or the way they hear it.
Your particular flavor or take on something will lead them to their moment of OH!
You will be the facilitator of the OH. And the people who need that OH will be saying hell yeah.
That’s what I’ve got.
So if you’re worried about whether or not it has value — yes, it has value.
And if you’re worried about it not being original, it can’t be original. So much for that.
And if you’re worried about being boring, it won’t be boring for your Right People because it’s exactly what they need right now. That’s part of what makes them your Right People.
And if you still think it’s no good, I say that it will still help people anyway. And they need you to stop second-guessing yourself for a few minutes so they can learn what you have to teach.
But I’ll also say that it’s natural and normal and human to go through cycles of doubting and not knowing.
That’s one of the things that will help you be a terrific teacher. Because you’ll know what your people are going through and you’ll be able to identify with their pain.
And, as time goes by, you’ll be able to identify with their pain without always being in it. Which will help them become teachers too.
Twitter version of this post:
“The people who need what you have to say are waiting for you and they don’t care that you think it’s boring, unoriginal or lacking in value.”