Have you ever been stuck? You know that feeling you get of being so much in your own way that you can’t get anywhere, like a turtle flipped over on its back? If someone would just come along and flip you over, you could be on your merry way.
Odds are, you just might need someone like Erin Weed, founder and CEO of Boulder, Colorado-based evoso, to flip you back over and point you in the right direction. Weed and her team are professional “un-stuckers.” She’s coached multiple speakers to standing ovations at TED-branded events all over the country (including this talk with more than 4 million views) and helped countless others unearth their truths—and share those truths in ways that are emotional and memorable, and leave audiences better than when they first walked through the door.
I recently sat down with Weed to ask her about her process, to find out exactly how one goes about getting “unstuck” with their business, goals or story that needs telling.
How do most of the clients who work with you get stuck?
Erin Weed: When clients come to evoso, they're usually at some kind of crossroads. Often, they have a speech to give, a brand to overhaul or a book to write. Maybe they're considering making a major move, like selling their company or starting one. I've worked with people who are famous, infamous and anonymous who felt they were coming to me for all sorts of project outcomes, but everyone we work with is really seeking two things: clarity and permission.
The reality is, most people aren't stuck; they know exactly what they want and need to do. [Feeling] stuck is merely an outcome of fear, and fear is actually just anxiety that's fueled by our worst-case-scenario thoughts. What I've seen trump those powerful negative forces, however, is a re-connection to simplicity—that’s where clarity comes in. When you can see the path, it’s easier to both follow and share the path.
If someone reading this article feels stuck, can you explain how clarity and permission help them get from where they are now to where they want to be?
Weed: As human beings, we largely live in our heads. Sometimes this is a huge bonus to being human, but most times, it’s just a nightmare. As a species, we tend to sway to the negative, scary, worst-case scenario outcomes and treat them as our reality. No wonder we live in a culture of stuck people! We lose the connection to who we are and why we're here. In doing so, we build our life and work from an inauthentic place. Undoing this can seem terrifying, and most people never attempt it.
As I said, clarity around what has you stuck shows you the path. Permission is what empowers you to walk it and then share your path with others.
What’s the scariest part of working through what you love and what you don’t love regarding what your brand and business has become versus where you want it to be or go?
Weed: More often than not, clients who go through our process make startling discoveries about their brand and their business. It’s rough to realize that in order to get to where you crave going, you’ll have to make some changes. The truth is occasionally unkind—at least on the surface. But when you’re honest with yourself about what you want, it’s a lot easier to get what you want. And you sure don’t want to be stuck.
And as much as most people desire this “truthy” way of living, it can be scary. Because for so many of us, we’ve created inauthentic existences because that's what the world expects of us: Go to school. Get the job. Marry the nice girl. Have 2.5 kids. Play the part. Be nice. Don't rock the boat. And there’s always the fear that people will say they don’t like what you’ve created.
How can readers start the process of getting unstuck and unearthing their truth using evoso’s process?
Weed: I’ll outline our process for you. It’s called "Dig, Plant, Grow."
Dig is the first step. Here's where you’ll figure out your story. This is how you do it:
- State your opportunity. What's the project or goal you’re working toward: a speech, blog post, book, big business decision? Write about this opportunity on one piece of paper. Don’t hold back—no censoring. There are no right or wrong answers here. Just write down everything you’re feeling about this opportunity. And yes, you can burn this later.
- Tell yourself your story. When writing down your thoughts and feelings about this opportunity, give some historical insight—stories from your past.
- Sum it up. After you’ve gotten everything out of your head and onto this piece of paper, sum it all up in one positive word. Clients of ours in the past have chosen words like "truth," "grace" and "permission," just to give you ideas.
- Write your manifesto. Get your Martin Luther King, Jr. on, and write out what you believe—your truth and how you feel about the situation at hand. This isn’t a marketing piece, so just let it rip. It might feel ridiculous, but it’s empowering. Write it, put it away, and revisit it a few days later for another read. Maybe an edit. And finally, a truth you can own: why you’re here and why you’re doing this.
Digging gets you unstuck by helping your brain work in the direction of your true goals.
The next two phases of evoso’s process are Plant and Grow, and these are easy once the Dig is done. Plant is all about developing a product—speech, book, brand, business—that reflects your truth, as discovered in the Dig. Grow is focused on taking that product and delivering it to the world for maximum impact and income. And there’s nothing wrong with income! Once a person has total clarity and complete permission from themselves to rock their truth … well, watch out, world! That person becomes ridiculously powerful, and things just start happening.
You work with numerous keynote-level speakers. What’s the biggest difference between just an OK keynote speaker and one who brings an audience to their feet?
Weed: The biggest difference between these two kinds of speakers is the intention behind the talk. If the talk is built to sell something, make the speaker look good or impress people, it won't have the authenticity of a talk delivered by a speaker who gets on that stage with the sole intention of giving the audience a gift. The best keynote speakers want the people filling those chairs in front of them to be better human beings after their talk. That’s what gets people to their feet. It doesn't require theatrics or sensationalism—people want speakers to be real, even when real is gritty, uncomfortable, embarrassing or confrontational. And they’re grateful when someone’s had the guts to share their truth in an open and honest way.
Finally, there’s always the looming fear that people won’t like your truth, and you’ll lose customers, followers and fans. How do you advise clients to think about people who won’t like what they have to say?
Weed: Here’s the better question: Are you going to give yourself the permission to evolve, or are you going to stay the same person and brand you’ve always been? It sounds so nice and romantic to follow your truth, but you’ve got to pay the bills, right? Speaking your truth is no good if you can’t pay your mortgage.
Many people think that pulling the trigger has to be an overnight move, a switch you flip. But a better solution for many is to ease into the process, find your rhythm and, in the process, find your audience. And sure, the detractors will come along, but the people who love your next evolution will stay and more will come.
People who are ready to get unstuck, the people we work with, have reached a point where it’s become unbearable to stay where they are. They’re more afraid to stay there than they are afraid of what comes next. And that’s a powerful feeling that helps keep people from getting stuck again and moving forward.
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