Believing Your Own Press Releases
Investigate this. “YOU believe your own press releases.” Okay, probably not true in the traditional sense of the expression. Yet, for most of us, our life is ruled by old stories, issued by unknown sources that have simply never been checked.
Perhaps it’s time. We all know from the political headlines, “tis the season to check the facts.”
The tricky part is, we’re often not aware of the unchecked facts in the headlines that give meaning to our lives, the stories that inform our actions, attitudes, relationships and careers — the internal monologues that define self and other.
Social media has created a transparent world where we can see beyond the contrived.
We can count on truths to be exposed, facts to be checked. Is it possible then that we could be deceived for much more than a 24-hour news cycle? Worse yet, could there exist a deception that’s self generated, fabricated and shrewdly perfected over such a long period of time that it’s lost all traces of fiction?
It seems unlikely. After all, we’re the storytellers, the concept makers. We pitch the exclusives and create demand for all things new.
We know STORY. Yet, we often don’t know our own, especially the really big ones. The fables that feed the unfulfilled and keep us in conflict with colleagues and loved ones, while unable to create the life, the campaign, the successes we most desire.
Why? The stories are woven so tightly to the fabric of our being that they simply create us by defining us — forming our personal identity by informing our thoughts, emotions and responses to every moving moment of life. They’re unconscious, unexamined, never questioned or checked.
So what do we do? Adopt an internal policy of self-imposed fact checking and quickly reap the “good for the soul and career” rewards.
Our inherent bind
Question: How do we deconstruct the stories that keep us small, the stories that bind our lives and limit our careers when we have absolutely no idea they exist?
Answer: We start by looking for clues.
The clues exist in patterns, the kind that repeat so predictably they become subtle themes that carry us along, unknowingly driving the bus we call life.
Here is a simple inquiry to find them, loosen their grip and empower your life.
- Sit quietly. Turn inward and ask, “What is this place I keep finding myself in?” It could look like overworking, loneliness, distraction, procrastination, fear of the unknown, always having a boss who is a certain way or a partner or friend who disappoints you. It might be people letting you down or taking advantage of you, every single time. It could be that no one does it right, or conversely, you never do. Take your time and look for the themes that connect different times in your life, different people who play a similar role, outcomes or circumstances that arise over and over again.
- Now let in what you’ve discovered. Bring your mind to your body and notice the feelings, emotions and sensations of this familiar pattern — this place you know so well but rarely pause to fully experience.
- Let it all be present, without trying to analyze or change your experience in any way. Notice how much you may want to distract yourself with other thoughts, judgments or attempts to fix or problem solve.
- Allow your headlines to reveal themselves. What’s your story? “I can’t do that. I’m not good at things like that. I’m not talented enough, smart enough, experienced enough, young enough. My boss won’t let me. No one listens to me. They like her better.” Or the flavor might be “I can’t count on anyone. I have to do everything. They can’t be trusted. They’re useless and lazy…”
- Let the headline be. It’s just a headline. Can you see the power it has?
- Check the facts. Is it true?
- Can you drop it? See all the meaning you’ve given it. All the drama and misery it’s created? It’s only a headline that YOU, perhaps unconsciously, gave meaning to. And most importantly: It isn’t you, unless you let it be.
When we drop it, we make room to see the story for what it is. A new headline can be written, or better yet, we may find we’re able to contact life with an energy that naturally emerges because we’ve dropped a long held, unexamined burden.
With practice in looking at these headlines and checking our facts, we may even have a momentary glimpse of what’s behind the story — the open, spacious, peaceful awareness that’s ready to create something new. In our industry, it’s the perfect place to hang out.
Sue Kochan is President and CEO of Brand Cool Marketing, a full-service, WBENC-certified agency dedicated to helping clients become the brands people love. In addition to being an incurable entrepreneur and a 20-year veteran of communications, she’s an ordained Buddhist teacher. Sue offers mindfulness education, facilitates workshops in brand positioning, customer touchpoint, and strategy. She speaks and teaches around the country on branding, marketing and on industry topics that reflect the agency’s deep experience in renewable energy, energy efficiency and corporate social responsibility. As an active volunteer, she teaches branding and marketing for Rochester's The Entrepreneurs Network (TEN), facilitates brand positioning workshops for the Advertising Council of Rochester and serves on a variety of not-for-profit boards.