When I started my coaching practice 9 years ago, I struggled to figure out how to put out the most polished image possible. First, I didn’t have the money to invest in photoshoots and graphic design, so everything was DIY. Second, while my health – the thing I supported other people with – was good, the rest of my life was far from perfect.
When I looked at the most successful people I knew in my field, they looked professional, high-end, polished…perfect.
In contrast, I felt messy.
I did my best with what I had, learning bits of HTML to update my website, designing my own logos in Word, and having my husband take photos of me in our backyard.
As my business grew, I was able to invest more in the things that elevated my brand: nicer clothes, professional photos, and a brand new website.
I did my best to put forward the most polished and professional image I could. It seemed that, in addition to training and experience, it was critical to achieving “expert” status.
But the more polished my brand became, the more disconnected I felt from it…
It was a pedestal of perfection that I could never live up to.
Business has changed over the years. Rarely will we choose to work with, hire, or vote for others based on their credentials alone. We want to feel a sense of trust in the people we work with, and that trust is forged through a genuine sense of connection.
This is why, more and more, building a successful business requires us to share more of ourselves – what we’re experiencing, what we’re learning, what we care about, what we stand for.
Example: Consider a scenario where you were hiring a dentist, and you were passionate about holistic health. On one dentist’s website, you see a bio written in third person with a string of credentials. The most personal aspect of the site is where it says “In her spare time, Dr. Smith likes to knit and cook.” On another dentist’s website, there’s a video where she speaks about his passion for holistic dental care, his commitment to keeping up on the latest research, and the hours she gives to doing free dental work for children from low-income families. On her blog, she writes about things she’s learning and how they’re being applied to her work, and offers practical things you can do at home to improve your dental health. Which one might you feel more connected to?
Because I wrote about lessons learned on my own journey, when I went through my divorce and my heart and life broke open, I could no longer write on my blog and social media as if it was all business as usual.
That’s when the challenge transitioned from wanting to appear polished, to wanting to share my true self – leading and serving from the truth.
I had to allow myself to build from the broken pieces.
Without this permission, when life throws us inevitable curveballs, we pull-back and hide altogether, or attempt to keep up a facade of perfection.
Both of these paths deepen stories of fragility, put our focus on ourselves instead of our bigger “why”, perpetuate perfectionism both internally and in the world (which serves no one), and disconnects us from ourselves, our work, and those we serve, as we sell an image of something that isn’t real.
Neither of these paths will serve us in growing our businesses and living our lives to the fullest.
It takes courage to break. It takes courage to build.
When I went through my divorce, I had to give myself personal space to feel what was real. This meant spending time with girlfriends and talking it through, spending reflective time by myself, and allowing myself to navigate this very painful time in my life.
Along the way, I was committed to making art of the heartbreak by drawing rich life lessons from it. Those lessons were not mined-for as some grand act of service to the world; they were for my own sanity and growth. This is important because there was no filter what I was learning, and no focus on sharing anything before I had integrated what I needed to.
When it was time, I shared what I was learning through my experiences that was relevant to the people I serve (there is a way to do this that reduces being pitied or put on a pedestal – that makes it about the lesson and not you).
Over the years, the more I have shared my experiences with integrity – not telling stories that aren’t mine to tell, spewing my feelings all over my readers for them to manage, or sharing in a way that asks (explicitly or implicitly) for my readers to hold/soothe/cheerlead/validate me, my experiences, or my perspectives – the more my business has grown. I am not perfect at this art, but I learn every time I lead from the truth, in a way that serves.
Now, I am no longer interested in becoming unbreakable. I am interested in shattering with grace and courage, making art of all the broken pieces.
There is a way to be true to yourself, while building a business that serves your mission. In my experience, it’s the only sustainable way to live and give.
In 2017, I am running two masterminds for women who are committed to learning the art of leading from the truth, more and more. Together, we will focus on the change we want to see in the world, and how we can contribute to that change in a way that’s truly sustainable.
There’s still some space in each of these experiences. If you’re interested, reply to this email and I’ll happily answer all of your questions personally. Here’s more info on each…
The Freedom Mastermind: 2017 will be my 7th year running the 9-month Freedom Mastermind. This experience is truly borne of my deep call to serve, and truly feels like my soul’s work. The experience brings the community into incredible depth and devotion: to one another, to the people in our lives, to the world, to our work, and to ourselves. The retreats are INCREDIBLE, and are an opportunity to connect with the community, to receive focused & in-depth coaching and strategic guidance from myself and the rest of the brilliant women there, and to learn from incredible mentors. There’s one-on-one and group coaching with me throughout the 9 months. It’s difficult to even express the growth and connection that comes out of these years: women have walked away with the clarity, success, and sisterhood they’d craved for years, and there are groups that still speak weekly 5 years later. You can read all about it here: TheFreedomMastermind.com
The Virtual Freedom Mastermind: 2017 is my first time running the 4-month Virtual Freedom Mastermind. I know how important it is that we gather at this time, coming together to support one another and our visions for humanity and our lives. This experience was borne of that understanding, and a call to offer something that’s accessible to women who want the mastermind experience but cannot afford it financially, or could not do the travel. So, the shorter Virtual Freedom Mastermind is a taste of what one would receive in the longer and more in-depth Freedom Mastermind. There are no retreats (though there is a discount to our Artistry of Freedom retreat in Tulum!), and we focus on group coaching rather than one-on-one. I am really excited to be offering this experience! You can read all about it here: TheFreedomMastermind.com/virtual
Please feel free to email [email protected] to learn more.
This is so beautiful, Nisha. Thank you for sharing.
“I am no longer interested in becoming unbreakable. I am interested in shattering with grace and courage, making art of all the broken pieces.” <- I needed that <3
Thank you for shining your beautiful light and encouraging the rest of us to do the same, Many blessings and much love to you <3
This is my first time visiting your blog. And I want to congratulate you for running such an inspiring and uplifting blog.
This blog post is beautifully written, thanks for sharing your story.
Unfortunately, perfection is a disease and until we decide to get rid of it, we may not see the kind of progress that we desire. Thank you for reminding me “to allow myself to build from broken pieces”
Thank you, Kechi <3