When I realized my task this month would have me writing about Celebrating, I immediately got a little nervous. A couple of weeks ago, I uncomfortably wrote about Celebrating from an inward perspective, and I explored all the difficult emotions celebrating brought up for me.
Now that I turn my attention to the outward manifestations of celebrating I grow more concerned.
Have you ever felt reticent or tentative about sharing good news?
How do you feel in the moments before you can tell someone about a meaningful accomplishment of yours or a big trip you’re finally taking or a job you completed with a lot of pride?
What comes up for you?
For me, concerned with the other person’s feelings, (will they be happy for me? Jealous? Upset? Will my news bring us closer or push us further apart? I hem and haw and worry a lot) I run flat out toward avoidance.
I’d like to keep the wins to myself. It feels safer that way.
This spirit is reflected quite a bit in the clients I work with on branding.
Branding is an act of courage.
But those who are attracted to our collaborative, introspective approach to branding are usually happiest behind-the-scenes, not broadcasting their wins to the world. They are humble and hardworking.
At the same time, they’ve come to a moment and sought us out, because they want to/need to/know the time has come to tell their story. Genuinely. Without holding back. With intention and powerful language.
And they want to know what their story is.
While we guide them to excavate their soulful truth and tell their story, they have to marshall the courage required to be seen in the world. We cannot transfer courage, but we can give them the words to use to share their truth.
Still, they often stew and stall on how they continue to share the stories of their brand with the world on an ongoing basis.
One thing I usually share when that occurs is that expressing your truth is truly an act of service to your audience.
In our world, your audience are the people who are already looking for you. They’ve had a hard time with something, haven’t found the right fit yet, and are actively seeking out a firm or an advisor or a team just like yours.
Your job is not to convince them of anything.
Your job is to be findable.
Your job is to show up with conviction in your voice so it carries across the crowded room we’re all crammed into.
Your job is to sparkle with the brilliant light of your veracity, so you stand out to those who need more brightness in their lives.
If you don’t, can’t or won’t do that, you’re not caring for your clients as you could.
If you’re reticent to celebrate, because it feels too self-promotional, too sales-y or marketing-y, then don’t do it that way.
Tell a story instead.
When I was in high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was creative and nerdy, into theater and art, but too practical to commit all my energy there. I was drawn to literature and psychology and life and communicating. I did know one thing for sure: I wanted to go out of state for college.
Unfortunately, the schools I applied to didn’t feel the same.
Unexpectedly, I realized I would be attending a university only 40 minutes away from my childhood home. To get into their honors college, I had to book an appointment with the dean and make the case I was a good fit. After four years at a rigorous high school in the most difficult courses, I had to beg to be admitted. I was disappointed and unsure.
I ended up loving my years at Arizona State University. I found a community of interesting friends and professors, endless possible directions for study, the flexibility I craved, time abroad, and a major that suited me. After college, I built a really successful career and then, a pretty successful small business. I ended up getting another degree from ASU, too.
So it was a particularly sweet moment for me, when in 2022, I received an award from my alma mater for the success of my business. They shined their massive spotlight on little ol’ me. It made me feel reconnected to my school. I felt proud, not just of my work, but of the relationship between myself and my college. After 20 years, my choice of college felt even more affirmed.
That’s the difference between telling a story and announcing you won an award. It’s the difference between not sharing news because it makes you feel uncomfortable and letting someone into your world to share part of your journey.
And it’s what makes brands personal and connective to those who are waiting to celebrate right alongside you.