Feeling overwhelmed? Reflect on your work's focus and who you aim to serve.
Over the past week or so, I’ve heard several variations of the following statements, both in person and online:
“Things are so confusing right now, I just don’t know what to do.”
“Everything feels like it’s going crazy, I don’t know what to believe anymore.”
“The world just feels upside down, I don’t know what to think."
I’ve written before about the importance of finding your foundation to help you refocus, and the same concept applies here. Additionally, as a writer and/or business owner, your role provides a powerful opportunity to help yourself and others navigate this perceived confusion.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Yes, I’m starting out by quoting Spiderman/the Bible (you pick, I won’t judge).
In times of crisis, there are a few groups of people who generally stand out because they have critically important responsibilities. Your lawyers, doctors, and first responders are the usual suspects, with obvious good reason.
I also want to point out a couple other groups I see as having special responsibilities because of the nature of their daily work. These people can create stability through their words and actions…but only by acting with intention.
Entrepreneurs: creators with a vision
If you’re creating something, you have a special responsibility to decide what it looks like and why. If that something is a business, you have an even greater responsibility to decide who or what you support, and what personal ideals you feed in the process.
One reason many entrepreneurs leave the “normal” workforce is precisely for this mission-flexibility. Now that you’re here, it’s critical to recognize the power you hold.
You get to decide where to focus your energy, what work you complete in service of your mission, and how you use your profits in service of your goals (monetary or otherwise).
There is so much power wrapped up in these three tenets that it’s difficult to fully enumerate! A couple examples to consider, which will hopefully get you thinking:
My friend Centrell is creating a real estate development and acquisition company because she wants to focus her energy on building economically strong communities, both literally and figuratively. In service of that mission, she chooses work that values diversity, expansion, and relationship-building. By pursuing this mission, she’s afforded the chance to serve other organizations that inspire growth, development, and empowerment.
Centrell says that because she’s chosen a strong foundation for her life and business, she’s now able to give back in ways that help others see their potential to do the same. Centrell’s world is not confusing – she knows exactly where she stands, and how to create the same stability for others.
I became a writing coach because I wanted to focus my energy on empowering smart people to have more confidence in their own writing. In service of that mission, I choose to work with clients who have interesting and inspiring stories to tell. I also choose to reinvest my profits to make my business more efficient and effective, so I can serve more clients while supporting organizations I care about.
As an entrepreneur, my world is not confusing: I know exactly what I stand for and why.
If you want to claim the power that’s inherently possible in what you’re creating, you need to have the same unshakeable confidence about WHY you’re doing it and WHAT you hope to achieve.
When every decision is made in service of your mission, you won’t be confused about where you stand, or what you need to do next.
Writers: visionaries who create
As writers, we have a special power to create and shape ideas with our words. That means we have a responsibility to ensure the ideas we’re creating are (a) supportive of our entrepreneurial mission and (b) reflective of our intended message.
Yes, I’m intentionally equating writing with entrepreneurship here. After all, both parties are creating something from scratch and shaping ideas.
Writers also have the same mission-flexibility as entrepreneurs…and in the absence of profit, many of us have even more freedom since we’re not beholden to the ideals of others.
Similar to starting a business, as a writer you have to understand the power you hold and learn to wield it responsibly: power to influence, power to engage, power to question, and power to support.
I’m not saying you should necessarily be writing about politics or philosophy or anything else that’s not in your wheelhouse. But you should understand the power that your writing can have, and be ready to use it when the time comes.
Understand the power that your writing can have, and be ready to use it when the time comes.
So. Is your world as a writer confusing, or do you know where you stand? What do you stand for, and why?
If you’re not clear yet, spend some time thinking about the same three ideas:
Where does your energy need to be focused?
What work can you complete in service of your mission?
How does this work serve your larger goals?
Your answers will give you a more defined idea of what it is you stand for, and what you should do next.
Own Your Message, Disown Your Fear
One of my favorite quotes from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic is about the idea that we can’t own the world’s reaction to our work. “Recognizing that people’s reactions don’t belong to you,” she says, “is the only sane way to create.”
Understanding this idea—that people’s reactions will always be independent of what you've created—is also a critical aspect of being able to write without fear. Realizing that you have no control over others’ reaction to your work is all the more reason to be intentional about what you’re creating in the first place!
I think this is true for both entrepreneurs and writers. I also think you’ll worry less about the world’s reaction to your work if you’ve spent time on the front end making sure your creations are purposeful. (After all, if you’re creating something that’s confusing to you, imagine what it will be like for someone who’s not in your brain!)
You can’t own the reaction to your work, but you can and should own the motivation behind it. You should do everything in your power to ensure your words and your vision are powerful and meaningful.
Don’t contribute to the confusion. In your business and your writing, be firm about what you stand for, why it’s important, and what you’re going to do about it.
What do you stand for, and what are you going to do about it? Let us know in the comments!