Japanese ceramic artists have a form known as kintsugi. That’s what the top image is.
Beautiful, broken, or a bit of both?
I think it’s stunning.
Kintsugi (金継ぎ, “golden joinery”), also known as kintsukuroi (金繕い, “golden repair”), is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.
Today has been a long day, and I knew it would end past my general day-end-plan when I began. Sometimes that’s what it takes to reach people, and it’s different to plan it than to let my day dribble off into nothingness.
Many artists and actors experiment with improvisational techniques or experiences as a way to loosen up and discover things, expand their range of performance.
I scheduled two back-to-back broadcasts (because if I have to do makeup, I might as well get the most of it): I did one with Justin Muscolino of up-and-coming TweezzleTV, an innovative format for trainers to share expertise.
That was the opportunity that these two shows provided me: I was willing to trade off my end-of-day limit in order to have the chance to stretch my performance envelope, my comfort and control zone, and show up as more vulnerable, as more deeply authentic…and less scripted, with the possibility of making mistakes live as well as talking about the hard and painful experiences of making mistakes at different points on my journey of discovery, personal and professional.
Brene Brown writes about how hard it is for us to connect with each other when we show up all “armored up.” As humans, our deepest needs include the need to connect with each other. And that’s only possible when we have the courage to wade into the wide murky zone of vulnerability. I’ve come to realize I can expect to struggle pretty much every time as I try to figure out how to show up professionally but open; willing to share my life and my mistakes and my lessons learned. I hope against hope to not over-share in a way that causes people to back away rather than feel closer to me, or leads people to question my judgement or credibility, but to seem courageous enough to show people that we have struggles in common.
It used to be that I’d give lots of cheerful, tactic-packed how-to presentations, and people never really followed up, really wanted to get to know me, or, despite all my technical expertise, felt they could relate to me. I didn’t open up enough to them to show that I had been where they are, that I had had a hard time learning these things, that they ever really wanted to begin to trust me…which is fundamental to not only sales, but also to everything to do with any relationship.
That’s why the opportunity for more “authenticity practice” is strongly aligned with my focus and priorities right now. To be in integrity, I need to walk my talk. I can’t extol the virtues of being vulnerable if I don’t do it myself and show people what it looks like and sounds like, and what it feels like to be in the presence of someone who’s practicing that.
Because our broken parts are where the light gets in. Our imperfections leave open the places for people to connect with us — not to fill in the gap to repair us, but to open a space for someone to peek in, to see what we’re made of, to notice what we have in common, to feel not-alone. And every so often to offer a place where new pieces fit together that never would have found each other, to create new things and experiences of extraordinary beauty that were only possible because first something opened, came apart, or even broke.
Justin just wanted me to talk about me, and my story. His team will be editing the 90 minutes we recorded, and breaking that into about six small episodes. I’m not sure how it will turn out, but it’ll be a mix of some of my technical expertise and some of my lessons-learned moments along the way. The challenge here was to go relatively unscripted, pay attention to where intuition took the conversation, and not just talk without letting my generous host ask questions.
I have been struggling for many years with a gap in my service offerings, and it just might be that collaborating with Jason, in breaking both myself and my expertise into more vulnerable, digestible, pieces, just might offer the chance to fill that gap. We’ll see.
Breaking down to try something different just might be where the light gets in.
Justin told me there was nothing I needed to teach, no presentation I needed to make. He said that his community would just like to get to know me. It was a lovely reminder of the value each of us has as human beings, that we are worthy simply for who we are, completely apart from our expertise, from what we DO.
The second show was the second of a six-episode live 90-minute session series I’m doing with Eric Coffie, host of the GovCon Giants podcast and YouTube Live Mastermind.
With Eric, our conversations are similarly unscripted, though we agreed on a theme for each week (and I admit that I caved in the last seven minutes of the session because I really really wanted some visuals to drive home the easy model of how to use checklists to prepare for a meeting that’s so good that your prospect wants to invite you back).
I love responding to the live chat, to the questions from the YouTube chat and engaging those who show up in active discussion, challenging them to take action, explore, be brave, admit their struggles and discover solutions. But this show also stretched me in another way. I wanted to offer a different perspective, a shift in the theme or emphasis, that the audience was absorbing from the host’s strong social media message. His show attracts many business owners who are at an early stage of Federal contracting and often have very small businesses. Owners of very small businesses can, and do, have big dreams. I had noticed that his language about “big contracts”, and “big wins for small business,” attracted hundreds of followers.
Language about big contracts can get people pretty excited about working with an energetic speaker or expert they can relate to.
I don’t have an offering right now, other than my book and workbook (Amazon #1 Bestseller Government Contracts Made Easier (Second Edition)) for the large numbers of very small businesses who might love to get my expertise. I have an insatiable desire to be of service, even if I can’t be paid for it, to people who just might make better decisions if they have a “light bulb moment” listening to a talk I give. My business lets me make that difference in the world.
I also wanted to inspire and encourage them, even though they might not be ready to be my clients, even if they did business with my host instead of me, by sharing some of my failures and struggles that I know so many of the listeners also have: fear of selling, fear of rejection, fear of sales, mistakes in conversations that mean didn’t get the business, failure to recognize small signs of progress that would have encouraged me if only I’d seen them. At the very least, I wanted them to not only have hope, but discover some small practical steps that would help them a little.
While I live to make a difference in the world, I don’t always expect to be paid for that. It’s nice when it works out that way, but I believe that the Universe is a fundamentally generous place, and pays attention when we do the right things for the right reasons.
One of my achievements tonight was to encourage one of my hosts to share not jut the stories of his big multi-million-dollar wins, but to reach back and remember all the small steps, the small wins, even the winning moments that had no monetary value at all, that led to the multimillion dollar wins. I wanted his audience to get the message, from his stories and mine, that the road to success is long and takes staying power and commitment.
It was sneaky, I admit. But I hope that people who showed up with stars in their eyes left feeling that their feet were more firmly grounded in reality rather than being at risk for their hopes being dashed.
Another one of my achievements was to show up in the full beauty of being an imperfect human.
I think that was the best of all.
This imperfect human really needs a hot bath and a good night’s sleep. I hope you get one, too.