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A Confession

(from Sept 09 Newsletter - sign up at left)

Dear Friends,

I have a confession - I haven't sent out as many newsletters as I should. Bad form for a business person, and especially bad form for a business coach! I've been rationalizing by telling myself that a seasonal newsletter is fine, but that's really not true: monthly is better if you want to convince people to do business with you.

The real reason I haven't been sending out more newsletters is that they bore me, which means they have probably been boring you, too. I've done my best to include useful articles in them - and some of you have, in fact, written and told me the articles were useful. But they took a lot of time to write and I was never really sure how many people read them.

It's a bit of a conundrum, actually: as a businessperson I need to remind you that I exist, and convey information about my services. But how to do it repeatedly without boring myself or you?

The antidote to boredom is authenticity. We are riveted by true, or true-seeming, stories, whether we find them in a blog, a novel, or on reality TV. Those stories reflect our own experiences and feelings back to us, validating them, and occasionally even help us grow or heal. So I am experimenting, starting with this newsletter, with telling true stories about my life in a more personal, authentic voice.

A key lesson I seem to have to learn over and over again is that things go much better when I give up some control. A year ago, I liberated my workshops from the strict slide format and they got incredibly better: And I have been working hard to increase my workshops' interactiveness, which is scary because they touch on deep issues and can elicit strong responses.

This newsletter is, in some ways, the final frontier. As a writer, I'm naturally super-conscious about the perceived quality of my writing. I'm also super-conscious of the fact that anything I write can wind up dispersed throughout the Internet. Also, when someone is in a helping profession, as I am, there is a strong temptation to put up a flawless front. "Why would anyone hire me if it looks like I can't get my own act together?" is the fear.

And yet, it's a cheat if I pretend that I'm some kind of paragon. I've struggled with procrastination and perfectionism at least as badly as most of my clients, and as proof of my continuing non-paragonness, I will share that I am writing this newsletter on a laptop with no Internet connection and no games. (Because I don't have the steely willpower to resist them if they're available.) And although, these days, I generally do meet deadlines, sometimes I don't. Last week I emailed someone an apology for being late with a document, and in that note described my summer as having been, "fun but, obviously, disorganizing." It was an embarrassing confession, and I wasn't sure how it would be received, but my correspondent kindly wrote back that all was fine, and added, "it's strangely reassuring to hear that you of all people are a little disorganized."

And that's how it usually goes. If you take the crucial first step of working as much as possible with kind and grounded people, then you can reveal yourself in all your flawed glory and still be accepted and appreciated. Moreover, the interaction is often liberating for all concerned.

This newsletter was way more interesting for me to write than prior ones, and I hope it was way more interesting for you to read. As always, I welcome your feedback, and don't forget to check out the links, as they really are special.

Till October,
Hillary

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