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In the online business space, everyone wants to tell you what to do. One of the most-repeated pieces of advice is that to own your own business, you need to position yourself as the CEO. Rather than staying in the sticky work of making and creating, you should focus on the big picture view.
Taking on the role of CEO led me down a path that I didn’t like. Instead of enjoying my business and everything I got to do, I felt the creativity slowly slip away. I even said to a friend, “I don’t even know if I want to have a business.”
Does that mean I’m throwing my business in the trash? No. Don’t worry, Tiffany Han and the Raise Your Hand Say Yes podcast and the Inner Circle are all here to stay.
There’s a lot of space between the two extremes of “I’m not super happy with my business right now” and “let’s throw it all away and start fresh.” But we often miss out on the opportunities in the middle.
When I realized that I wasn’t sure about having a business after 15 years of building my business, I thought about this question to find the middle ground:
If you won the lottery tomorrow, what are you doing today that you would keep doing?
For me, there are a lot of things that would stay on my list. I would still keep teaching my Inner Circle. I would keep recording the podcast. I would continue to write and create.
There are some things that I’d kick out of my life, of course, especially the business work that has to do with strategy. Everybody wants to tell us how to do it (which is why my class is called How to Be!). Everyone says, “You need to be a CEO. It’s not your job to be the maker or the doer.”
When I first heard this, I thought it was awesome. But making decisions from the place of “CEO” meant that the magic of my business was set aside.
This year, I’m changing my title to writer. I’m a writer. I’m a mentor. I am a thinker. And I am living and showing up from that place to see what happens. I’m going to operate this year as a writer instead of a CEO. And to be honest, this feels both exciting and kind of scary.
Even though it’s a scary change, I know I’m making this change in faith and integrity. I’m also trying to follow the energy and the fun in business.
So the next question is, “What does it look like to step from CEO into writer? And what does that mean for my work for my business? How am I showing up?”
The first thing I’m doing is embracing experiments. This is something that I teach and that I’ve taught for a long time, so it’s nothing new for me. But instead of doing mini-experiments, I’m trying to zoom out a little bit. I’m viewing the whole year as an experiment and approaching it with curiosity, rather than the tight white knuckle feeling of “what if it doesn’t work.”
Setting up an experiment doesn’t mean throwing caution to the wind and going blindly in a new direction. You don’t have to change everything about everything. As extreme as changes can feel to us, there are ways to navigate them that make a lot of sense.
My hypothesis for this experiment is that by making these shifts now in 2021, we will look back on everything that I did, and it’s going to make a lot of sense. Eventually, we’ll be able to say, “Oh, of course, this is what happened. This is what works. This is what didn’t. This is what she learned. This is what she took away. And this is what’s next.”
This is where the elements of faith, integrity, and experience come in. I’m putting a lot of faith in the process and a lot of faith in myself, too.
Thus far in this work, there has not been a single thing that I haven’t been able to figure out. Even if I have stumbles, even if I make mistakes, I can trust this.
Right now, I don’t know how to be a writer. I don’t know what a writer does. Even though I don’t have those answers, I am practicing what I call living as if. I don’t need to map out precisely what my year is going to be like, though. It means that every day I need to ask myself, “what would a writer be doing right now? How would a writer approach this?”
Over time, by continuing to show up and live as a writer and prioritize that identity, everything will fall into place. Eventually, I will be a writer.
While I’m living as if, I’m also testing the energy of being a writer. I’ll keep asking myself if I like it, if I want more or less structure, and what things I want to do. And I’ll keep thinking about what the rules are for my definition of what it means to be a writer.
Most importantly, I’ll keep asking myself, “how does it feel?” We are all so good at checking things off our lists, but what we really need to practice more is figuring out how things feel and permitting ourselves to shift based on the answer.
Friction is excellent information, so I’ll be looking out for it during my experiment.
I’m not expecting that I’m going to make this choice and step into this new way of being, and everything is going to be perfect forever and ever and ever. That’s not how this works, and it’s not how life works these days.
There are other obstacles, other challenges, and things that always come up. When you have a business, there’s still stuff that you have to do that you’re not excited about.
But there’s a difference between the stuff I just don’t want to do and the stuff that feels challenging. For me, when those points of challenging friction show up, that’s useful information. It gives me a clue where I can make my life, work, and job easier. That can look like delegating, shifting the way I show up to it, or giving it up altogether.
The other thing that I’m introducing into this picture is more expansion, more trusting, more showing up and seeing what happens, and less planning—all with an asterisk that says “but still within integrity.”
Showing up and seeing what happens doesn’t mean that I will stop caring about my work. I’m talking about showing up in the trust and knowing that whatever is meant for me will show up at the right time, which often translates to being an open conduit for inspiration.
I’ve tried many different ways to show up in the past, and all of the evidence I’ve gathered says that the more surrendered I can be, the better results I’ll get.
As I step into this new way of being, I’m not going to change what I’m doing. Instead, I’m looking at the why and the how of what I’m doing.
Here are my “instead of” statements as I move from CEO into writer:
Instead of thinking about my newsletter, podcast, and Instagram account as marketing, I’m thinking about having a more profound reverence for my work. I want to have reverence for the things that I want to be in conversation with you about, for things that I want to connect with you on, things that I want to tell you, and things that I want to talk about.
Instead of new offers, I want to approach my work from a place of integrity and faith. I’m asking myself, What are the things that I can’t wait to make for you? What are the things that I can’t wait to teach you? What are the experiences that I can’t wait to invite you into?
Along with that, I want to make sure I’m living in faith. If I’m showing up from a place of reverence, connection, and integrity, then I have faith that the right people will be drawn to my work.
I’m thinking about who I get to spend my time with. I think of getting to help you as an act of devotion. I’m witnessing your showing up and honoring that.
The energy that I want to invite in is letting myself be an open channel, allowing myself to receive, and being available.
One of my favorite meditations is “Use me. Show me. Use me. Show me.” It’s my way of saying to God, or the divine, or the universe, that I trust it to get me on the right path. I trust that whatever idea comes to me is the one that I need to follow. It doesn’t mean that everything clicks into place when an idea shows up for me, but I can trust that it’s the one I am meant to have.
Asking about the return on investment, or ROI, is a very CEO question. Instead, I’m trusting my curiosity. I’m leaning into the voice that says, “what if we tried it this way?” I might still track some data and stats, but ROI won’t be my focus anymore.
My job is not to tell you what path to be on. My job is to walk with you and just hold up a mirror and remind you who you are. That way, you can see the wisdom, the beauty, the courage, the knowledge, and the heart in yourself. That’s my job.
Do you see how being a mirror holder is so different from being an expert? If I just get to walk with you, I can hold up that mirror to remind you of what you said you wanted.
This one might feel kind of counterintuitive because I do want to create more. But instead of just more, more, more, I also want to honor the things that I’ve already done and already built. I want to see what it would look like to breathe some new life into them.
As a writer, I can and will review my past work. There are new book ideas that I’m working on, but I know that there are whole books that I’ve already written. Part of what I’m trying to do is create the space to sink into some of that other stuff. It feels like a treasure chest or a puzzle to put together. I want to make some cool stuff, but I don’t always have to start from scratch.
I hope these shifts and my transition from CEO to writer inspire you to think about what you’re looking for this year. If you’re feeling inspired, be sure to send me a message on Instagram or join my upcoming class, How to Be.
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[05:25] Why I’m Choosing “Writer” Instead of “CEO” as My Title
[14:24] What the Transition from CEO to Writer Looks Like
[31:17] Mindset Shifts I’m Making: My “Instead Ofs”
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