If I think of “my secret to success” as a story coach, a few things come to mind…but one of the first is generosity, not the easiest thing to do when you’re starting out and worried about making ends meet. I recorded this video just before Christmas last year, when the theme of giving was fresh in my mind. Even now, months later, I see that generosity continues to be a cornerstone of my success as a story coach, as it will be for you, too. Watch the video, or read the transcript below.
Hi, this is Tanya Taylor Rubinstein, “The Global Story Coach” and I’m making this video at about midnight in my house in Santa Fe. I was going wait and do it tomorrow, but I just had the word ringing through my head all day: Generosity. It’s a couple weeks before Christmas now. I’m just waiting for my daughter to come home from Boston, from college and enjoy the season with her. As I am launching this whole Global School of Story this fall (my online program to teach those of you who are interested out there how to be a professional story coach) a huge part of what I’m reflecting upon us in creating this curriculum is:
1. What makes a story-based business successful?
2. What makes it lucrative?
3. What makes it sustainable?
4. What does it take to make just-getting-by income, but a six-figure plus income?
In this case it’s a story based business, but I think this applies to all creative businesses and it ties in with the word generosity. When I look back on my own life and career over the last 20 years, I see a lot of other talented people (some people certainly more talented than I am) who haven’t been able to make a living doing story coaching as I have.
There are so many gifted people in the world, but it’s not just about creative and artistic giftedness.
Certainly in the program that I’m doing I’m covering these aspects in the curriculum, like:
1. What to do to get started.
2. How to work with businesses in terms of coaching them on brown <edit, ground?> stories.
3. How to work with performers creating a TED talk-style story.
But when it comes down to being successful as a creative entrepreneur, it’s a whole different story. So in this series of videos I’m going to be doing I’m going to be talking about what it really takes to run a successful creative business.
(When you’re done, check out my other video on story coaching: Becoming a Story Coach: Can You Actually Make a Living?)
So coming back to generosity. First of all, when I began this business I had zero capital, I had gotten divorced from my daughter’s father, and was living in Santa Fe New Mexico, which is not exactly the bastion of the theater and solo-performance work. It’s a very creative place and it’s a very spiritual place, but it’s not New York or LA or Chicago or San Francisco or even San Diego, ultimately, it’s a small town. But there’s a line in the Course in Miracles that I love and it is this:
To have all, give all to all.
Now, I think that can be misconstrued in the kind of codependent way that the ego can twist. But, what that means to me, and has meant to me and my business, is to show up with a generous spirit. It means to really look to GIVE to your clients before you receive. This is when things really shifted for me. About 17 years ago, I did a project called ‘The Cancer Monologue Project’ and it was featured on Oprah’s magazine and eventually became a book. I told myself I was going to do that project no matter what.
At the time I was single mom and it wasn’t like I could really afford to not get paid for anything. As a matter fact, the first small grant I got from the city of Santa Fe was for $2000 for the whole project, which took a lot of time and energy, but coming from a place of generosity of spirit, I internalized these beliefs:
1. I want to do this (a given project).
2. I’m inspired that I want to do this.
3. I’m in service to this and putting that attitude out to every person I meet (this also applies to potential clients and potential investors/organizations that want to hire you)
There are many positive effects that stem from this. First, coming from generosity of spirit allows people to relax and feel safe with you.
You’re not first and foremost there is sell them something. This is how we sell without selling and how we sell by attracting through our heartfelt presence.
If you don’t care about the organization that you’re in service to, if you don’t care about your potential clients and you’re just looking to close the deal, that’s just an old paradigm/manipulative kind of selling strategy and it’s still out there, but that’s not abundance.
Abundance is a combination of giving, service, and the love. It’s really wanting to share your offering and knowing it holds great value and then receiving. It’s nuanced in attitude, but people can really read it, so it’s a great practice to go inside and write on your relationship with generosity. Ask yourself: “Where am I at with generosity?” and see what arises.
Is there a natural ability and desire to give without fear?
To be profoundly interested in your clients story?
To not be watching the clock hour by hour but to be invested in taking somebody all the way through to completion?
That generosity of spirit is what served me really well. Again, it’s subtle and nuanced but people really pick up on that. People can totally find out if they’re first and foremost being sold something (and you just want to seal the deal) or if you’re really interested. Personally, what makes me joyful/what makes me high is seeing people complete lifelong dreams. Whether it’s starting a story-based business, completing writing their memoir, or completing writing and performing a solo show, getting a story that they can put out to the world is what matters. It could even be telling the story of their online business that really reflects who they are in a heartfelt way that transcends the old business model.
So, I would really encourage you to write on your relationship with generosity and see what arises. If there are blocks to it, it’s great to see those on paper and then write about that. I call it ‘wisdom writing.’ You compose questions to yourself to your own inner being or to your own higher self and say things like:
How can I shift this part of me that is in fear?
Why am I afraid that if I don’t try to take something first (if I don’t insure my own well-being) that I’m not going to get enough back?
Particularly when you’re starting a business it is absolutely essential to be willing to do whatever it takes.
I’m almost 20 years into my business and I have very clear set rates and I am able to attract the right clients for them. And there’s a progression that happens as you develop your work. It takes self management. You have to learn how to manage time. But ultimately there’s a devotion to that quote I mentioned earlier “To have all, give all to all.” An attitude that says “I’m in this for the rest of my life.” It doesn’t mean that you’re literally giving every ounce of your energy away, because you are included in the ‘all’. Self-care/self-loving and giving back to yourself time for rejuvenation is a part of that generosity of spirit to the self. But it’s a holistic model. In terms of sales/in terms of getting people to sign up for your work it’s really important to not only understand this concept to apply it as well.
I’d love to hear any thoughts or experiences you have around this topic. Please feel free to leave a comment below.
Have a great night.