Honest, open, truthful, straightforward and clear. Without blinking an eye, Ellen answered all the questions put to her; some of which must’ve been incredibly difficult to respond to. Whether or not you agreed with her lifestyle or her choices to communicate in the way she did, you had to believe her. (She was, after all, the expert on her own experience, as are you on yours.) She made every person who would be honest with themselves at the very least admire her courage, integrity, and her willingness to respond, share and deal with the consequences.
Ellen built integrity and credibility because she came from a fear-less, truth-based foundation that was at a high cost. When people are willing to suffer negative consequences for their beliefs, values, spirit, passion and purpose, the only response can be one of admiration.
It’s at our core to behave honorably; when we don’t physical signals go off in our bodies—shaky palms, a queasy stomach, a nagging feeling that something is wrong.
Communicating honestly and showing vulnerability to the potential consequences is a significant way we show integrity. By not hiding our selves, but rather by courageously knowing, and showing, who we really are, we display our brand.
When you show people what you believe (your "why"), you communicate from the inside out, rather than the way most people and businesses try to communicate, which is from the outside in. Simon Sinek describes this as the Golden Circle, and if you didn't go watch his TED Talk referred to in the previous lesson, you'll want to now!
In this way can we truly connect with others. The extent to which you are able to do this with your community of interest will in part determine your brand, your relationship with your audience, and the way you develop your book content, packaging, marketing, distribution and sales.
It’s that big of a deal. And it’s why I ask my author students to do this brand characteristics self-reflection before they write one word of their manuscript.
Call it the moral compass or a “searching and fearless moral inventory,” the clarity of self-examination of these four elements will provide excellent guidance and definition to you, your brand and your book. Oh, and by the way, your life.
Let’s do it.
But Wait…What About the Dreaded Over-Share?
Of course I have to say something about over-sharing; it runs rampant in our instant, Snapchat, here-now-gone-later, everyone’s-a-blogger world. It’s a reality.
A friend of mine said of the post-2016 US Presidential Election era that we were now entering a “post-fact epoch of human history.” It was meant to explain how a Presidential candidates repeatedly state fantasy as undeniable fact. My friend stood amazed, as did many others, at the whole-hearted denial of provable fact versus “it’s true because I say it is,” and the resulting acceptance by millions of people of massive amounts of entirely obvious mis- and dis-information. This too, is a reality.
In the publishing world, memoir (writing about yourself and your life experience) is one of the fastest-growing niches in book publishing, and among the best-selling.
When you take all these things together, it may seem like we’ve become too self-centered to care about what anyone else is saying or doing as long as we’re having our say. Everyone’s talking, and nobody’s actually listening.
About over-sharing and fact as it relates to writing, I’d say simply that it comes back to your brand--the building blocks of which are beliefs, values, spirit, passion and purpose that drive your motivation for writing.
If they spring from your source, then you will know what content is over-sharing and what is important, relevant, open and honest communication. Your gut will be the only measuring tool you need.
Continue now to Lesson 3, where you'll start defining your brand's characteristics, from the inside out.