#BizSermons: When the easy thing is the right one

I’m going to get my preach on again.

p.s. prefer to consume your sermons on audio? I’ve got you covered babe. »

I’ve decided this is how I’m going to spend my wild commutes (140 miles a day… y’all). After a decade in this business, I’ve got plenty of gems of wisdom bouncing around my head—not to mention a few rants and humorous anecdotes. So the thing is, I’m a Bible Belt girl with no religious affiliation or leaning, but I’ve always had a bit of a rebellious hankering to be a preacher. That’s probably why there’s three different Divinity School applications saved on my computer. I grew up in fundamentalist Bible churches where women were seen and not heard, and as you can imagine that didn’t sit great with me. But despite that, church as a place was always home.

My mom was always the cook at any church we went to—it didn’t matter if it was a big one with thousands of members, or a tiny one with a hundred. We did it all, and she was always the glue holding the community together. Seeing people where they were and for who they were, meeting their needs with food and conversation—that was her gift.

What I see in her, and what I hear in the struggle my clients share with me, is that we need more people to show up with their intuitive gifts, with their natural talents and joy. One of the richest gifts in my life is the fact that I grew up steeped in the knowledge that who you are is an incredible gift, perfectly designed to fill a need in the world.

If you’ve ever wondered how to get paid for the things that are easy…

I don’t know about you, but one of the biggest hangups I’ve had in my business is “How can I get paid so well for things that are so easy?” It’s a question that has limited me and held me back over and over again—and I know I’m not alone. And even though I work through it over and over, I find it rising back up over and over again in myself and my community.

We make the mistake of thinking that entrepreneurship has to be hard, that business has to be full of difficulty and struggle. I won’t tell you that there will be no pain or difficulty, but there’s a difference between facing our fears and building our entire business a hundred yards outside of comfort zones. There’s a difference between persevering through the hard days and pushing through a way of working that is completely out of alignment.

I believe that so often, what you are meant to do is that thing that comes so naturally to you that it’s just who you are. That special something you can do better than everybody else, but is so innate that you don’t even consider it a talent. That’s where your genius zone is, and when we break free of guilt and impostor syndrome we make space to charge a premium price for something that feels natural.

Marketing strategy for luxury service businesses overcoming overwhelm and anxiety

My mom would never have been able to serve the thousands of people she did throughout her life if she had poured out her time trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Her influence would have been so intensely reduced if she’d tried to sew quilts or offer financial assistance or volunteer at some community organization for kids. By showing up in her natural gifts, she could spend 20 hours of a day cooking for her family, homeless shelters, churches, new moms, dying patients—and she could do it without feeling resentful. Because she worked out of her pleasure, she found the energy to serve with influence and ease.

I never once saw her show up and say, “Man, I’m not really serving and making an impact because this isn’t difficult.”

Instead, there was always profound gratitude that she could take the weight off of the suffering by doing the thing she loved to do most in the world. Sometimes working in the kitchen was her livelihood, sometimes it was a side hustle, sometimes it was just that thing she did to bring kindness to the world. Do you have something like that? Something you can’t stop doing, whether you’re being paid or not?

In the last couple years, as I’ve stretched and grown my business in new ways, I’ve looked to bring my full self into my work. To show up and do the things that only I can do. Recently, that’s looked like inviting people to sit around my table, to nourish their bodies and make space for their souls. Often it looks like cooking a warm meal and untangling the ways that the things holding us back in our business are the same things that hold us back in every other space.

I’ve hosted a few masterminds, and one of the areas of resistance I’ve noticed is women not wanting to specify who they’re here to serve. They want to leave it open, because they’re afraid of losing someone’s business or owning the intensity of their niche expertise. When you get them talking, every one of these women has some area that lights them up to no end. And I know for sure that if they would step into that fully and stand in a room of the people they love to serve with vulnerability and passion, those clients would be magnetically drawn to them. People can feel when you are genuine and generous, and that combination is irresistible.

But we hold ourselves back because we feel indulgent or lazy, or like it’s too risky to lean into this narrow purpose. We feel guilty when we look around and see the struggle of those around us, and we let ourselves believe that we have to struggle too. Maybe our parents struggled to earn enough, maybe our community is suffering, maybe our partners and friends are in careers that are constant points of friction.

If you’re accustomed to struggle, it’s hard not to think “Who the heck am I to show up and create a magnetic, energizing, profitable business being who I am?

The answer is simple: “Who are you not to?” Who are you to play small and hide the magic that only you have? Who are you to keep the people you are innately good at serving in the dark?

Who are you to starve us of your gifts because you’re afraid to own your power?

When I started shaping this #BizSermon today on a voice memo in my car, I didn’t know where it was going to go. Honestly, I thought I was going to sit down and talk to you about the importance of rest (because hotdamn I overdid myself yesterday). But then I got going, and I knew that’s not what you and I needed to talk about.

I lost my mom almost 8 years ago now. And when she passed away, I was still so unformed, still this 20 year old figuring out who she was in the world and where to sink her feet into the ground. Then there were the years of grappling after she died, processing through decades of unhealed life before I could sort myself out.

By the time I was in my mid-twenties, I’d spent a couple of years in therapy (and at long last got my daughter to sleep through the night). That magic combination of talk therapy and a good rest allowed me the space to get acquainted with who I am.  And it’s been comforting and intriguing that the ways I found myself inhabiting the world and showing up to serve my community are often the same ways she did. In my experience, most of life’s problems can be solved with an intimate conversation and a home cooked meal. After a lifetime of seeing our differences, I’ve found myself walking in her shoes.

It’s the comfiest space. Every day I look for more ways that I can do generous work through writing artful words and talking to women around a table. I am here to give up the hustle and embrace the joy.

I learned this first hand last year, and it’s a good anecdote—every sermon needs a well told anecdote.

Last year, I hit a crisis point in my business. There was monumental growth (actually, every year I’ve been in business my company has grown by 300% or more year-over-year). But this time, the growth was so intense that we’d hit that marker in 6 months. It was unsustainable, and I felt burnt out and anxious. Obviously, I’m not here to run a business that fills me with dread. It’s the opposite of The AgenShe ethos.

Don’t wait for a crisis to make the shifts you need to make

So one night I pulled out my journal, and I started writing out everything that was stressing me out, everywhere I needed support, and exactly what kind of help I dreamed of receiving. I filled pages imagining what my ideal team member would be able to do, and how they’d be able to provide support where I was struggling. And when I finished, there was total calm in my heart because I knew exactly who the person I needed was. I knew it because everything that I’d written down exactly described the innate, natural, most authentic personality traits and skills of one of my best friends. I took a picture of that journal page and sent it to her. “What is this? Because this is me.” That’s all she could say.

And that’s how I got the best project manager on my team.

Because of her, I was able to handle one of the most challenging years of my life—enormous business growth, my daughter coming to live with me full time, beginning a battle with chronic illness—without going under. In fact, I’ve even gotten to launch new initiatives and courses. But more beautiful than all of that was that I got to watch her experience the magic that is growing a business that’s a natural extension of who you are.

Executive function and Trello and complex scheduling—it’s what she does without thinking. Personally, even that sentence makes my brain want to explode. No, thank you. But just like she couldn’t put words on a page with the fluidity and art that comes naturally to me, figuring out how to scale, manage, and schedule out the projects that keep my business running was impossible from where I stood.

And everytime she said, “This is just what I do, how am I getting paid for this?” I knew that the gap between us was exactly it. Where she felt fluidity and ease, I felt only panic.

Running a business will be hard sometimes—but it doesn’t need to be painful

Please pause a moment to know that I’m not saying that the work will never be hard, or that you will not ever face struggle. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, sometimes a financial rollercoaster, and there’s so many times when you’re going to be fighting against your own mindset. You will have to overcome obstacles that you never knew existed.

But there’s also peace and ease. Because the thing you should charge the most for? I can almost promise you it’s the thing you do with the most ease. If you’re unsure of who your ideal clients are, look at the people who have been easiest and most joyful to work with. If you want to know how to show up more authentically, genuinely, and energetically in your business look at the ways you love and care for those closest to you.

We need to stop playing small and pretending like we’re less powerful than we are by trying to force ourselves to be somebody that we’re not. If you showed up with your particular niche service for your particular niche client—the work that you do with ease, joy and energy—and you showed up with conviction and passion you would transform the lives of your clients.

Perhaps more importantly, you would transform yourself. You would get to exprience the relief that is showing up in the world in a way that feels authentic and meaningful to you.

What I want to say to you is that babe, we need you. We need you to show up. Show up in the ways that are filled with ease and flow. Persevere through the emotional roller coaster and the obstacles. Persevere through the months when your revenue is lower than it’s ever been (especially after the month when it was higher than it’s ever been). Persevere through the negative self-talk and the lack of support from those who don’t understand you.

We need you to persevere, but we don’t need you to be in pain. We need you to persevere, but we don’t need you to struggle against the beautiful, messy self that you are.

Lighten your to-do list, babe.

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