“Selling? I just can’t do it!” says the sales phobic. Why is it that some people cannot ask ask for a sales, cannot sell products from the back of the room., etc? Perhaps it’s a struggle between values and rules!
Does this sound familiar: “I just can’t ask my workshoppers or people who attend a presentation to buy books and tapes from me. It feels too… too-” (Screw up your face here and think nasty.)
We repeat words and phrases that re-convince us that we can’t possibly sell, that selling itself is tainted with disapproval, and that nice people just don’t do it. “You have to be pushy. You have to be cut-throat. That’s just not me.” These words and phrases make us anxious. They reinforce familiar feelings that we are powerless (“it’s just who I am!”) to take charge of our lives in order to develop our dreams of supporting ourselves with the meaningful creative work of creating a memoir business.
But why, if we want to be able to continue presenting workshops (helping people to realize their dreams), would we choose to eliminate a source of income by repeating words and thoughts that short circuit our ability to support ourselves doing the work we love?
There’s psycho-logic behind this! Our negative self messages are a means of not betraying a deeply held value: to nurture others, to be creative, to support the growth of community, to be loving and giving, to be generous, friendly and kind. etc.
How does this work?
Side by side with values are personal rules of conduct that dictate what we must do to implement them. These rules determine the integrity we experience around our exercise of values-if we follow our rules, we feel good; if we don’t, we feel bad. These rules, of course, are the curriculum of childhood. Our parents, siblings, teachers, community, media exposure to heroes and villains, and our own character type all teach us lessons as we acquire the unique set of rules we will carry out of childhood to cope with being adults in the world.
While it may seem that our rules are rational and good (we even call them beliefs), they are often not so at all. Some are born of a child’s response to powerful people in our early lives. Take for instance the boy who hears his father shout, “That Ralph calls himself a friend but he charged me $25 to plow my garden!” The boy learns that friendship is an important value and that charging money for a service betrays friendship. He now has a rule for how to behave in friendship. He doesn’t question his father’s rule-he adopts it.
As a grownup, he is in conflict: how can he, on the one hand be friendly and caring–and on the other, charge for his workshops and sell books, tapes, and binders to his students?! Even when he knows they need these resources to continue lifewriting on their own, the conflict is there. He believes that consciously creating positive cash flow for himself means he will not, can not be sensitive to the needs of others. Charging, or even sitting down to work out reasonable fees in a business-like way, is uncomfortable for him. In order to uphold his deeply-held and early-learned value, he must be negligent of his own finances. “I just can’t sell,” he tells himself, and he is rewarded. For what he hears when he says that is, “I am a caring person who is sensitive to my students’ needs” not “I’m shooting myself in the foot and will have to abandon this work and the people who need my help as soon as I rack up some more debt and make myself really miserable.”
By limiting yourself to the unexamined “I just can’t sell,” perhaps you, too, are upholding a cherished value now embodied in a rule of conduct that doesn’t, in fact, serve your adult life. As an adult you can realize that the rule of conduct you absorbed as a child may not fit now even though the value is one you want to keep. Does your conduct actually undermine that value by making it impossible, despite your dedication and good intention, to succeed at your lifewriting business?
If you could broaden the range of responses you use to implement your values, could your rules then function both in favor of your value AND in favor of your finances? If you could convince yourself that good business can function as a support for care and nurturing, wouldn’t it ease your life considerably?!
YES! Imagine the energy that harmonizing these two dissonant themes will release in your life!
So what’s to do about this quandary? How can we re-wire our rules without betraying our values?
In fact, it is by focusing your attention on the strategies that will generate adequate income from your work that you can create a positive future for yourself as a workshop leader, a future in which you will be free to pursue and practice your core values without anxiety.
Unless you are independently wealthy, a positive cash flow is the only thing that will enable you to continue to help and nurture people who come to you for lifewriting guidance. And a negative cash flow is guaranteed to stop you in your well-meaning tracks.
How can you go about aligning your values and your rules?
One way to change the rules that rule you is to write (and regularly reread) affirmations that alter the conflicting messages you have been giving yourself. Here are some examples:
- I enjoy making quality resources available to people who need them.
- When I sell a book to a student, I make it possible for her to write the best stories she can.
- I find it both comfortable and compatible with my values to nurture my finances in all ways.
- Selling quality products to workshoppers is a nurturing thing to do.
- Becoming aware of my finances will enable me to be a more caring and creative person.
- Sensitive people who take care of their finances promote the general welfare.
The choice is always yours. Choose to examine your values and their underpinning rules of conduct, or choose to maintain the conflict between childhood beliefs and adult necessities at your own expense.
You can choose to repeat “I just can’t make myself sell to my workshoppers” or you can choose to acknowledge and address your need to support yourself: “My work is creative and sustaining. It makes a difference in the world. My business is ethical and nurturing of human growth. It supports me emotionally, spiritually, and financially so that I can continue to grow and move in the world as a teacher and a leader, as a writer and a person.”