Steve Fox was the speaker at GraceWorks this morning. A name like any other but a face like Christopher Walken’s of maybe 20 years ago. An electric speaker who took his life’s philosophy from bits and snatches of rock music. Here is one of the snippets that gives him inspiration:
Despite all the amputations, she can dance to the rock ‘n roll station.
He asked, how many of you:
- do what you love
- make the most contribution
- get paid the most for it?
I had to admit that for most of my professional life I had been doing what I’d loved, making a contribution and getting paid very little. After all, it’s journalism and that’s the way of the world, a mindset to which I had become resigned as a fact.
Next, Fox asked, what is my valuable product and service and how is it different from everyone else’s on the planet?
This is something I still have not figured out or even tried to articulate.
Fox describes himself as a “provocative and compassionate agent for truth, love and justice.” Furthermore he seeks transformation in a “top-down perspective”. That means seeing the big picture and communicating it in a usable way.
That’s a pretty airy fairy self-description for somebody who’s always been in manufacturing! And a multimillionaire!
He went on to stress something that I’ve always known but never put much faith in. Fox said, “The more something comes naturally for you, the more likely we are to undervalue what that means to other people. We don’t have to be any better than normal in our field to get paid better. We merely have to figure out what is unique to me and who wants it.”
And so to do this I have to:
1) Define what is special about me.
2) Own what is special about what I do; and own that it is special and that it is valuable.
3) Own the value of what’s special about me, what is so natural that I don’t know I do it.
4) Let the world know about what I have to offer.
5) Figure out what I do all the time when I talk to people and when I work?
6) Notice how I am with people.
Then he gave as an exercise to figure out what sets us apart. And the way to do that is to consider what feedback, acknowledgment or thanks that we get.
Frankly I could not answer this truthfully. I couldn’t remember at that moment. I could say what I would like to get feedback for and what I think my value is. I think I bring new ideas and perspectives. I think people appreciate my generosity and my connecting people to opportunities. For caring about them. For supporting their goals with my own creative thinking.
What were my biggest successes and gave me the most joy?
Why were they successes?
Although I never finished the book, the research I did for Love from Afar gave me an enormous fulfillment as well as sharing that with other people.
The years I spent in Asia
The book I wrote for the Fior d’Italia, “The Fabulous Fior — Over 100 Years in Italian Kitchen”, published 2004.
My trip to Italy in 2006 gave me more connections to my family and brought people together.
I see I have to go back and figure out why these activities were fulfilling.
What do I want people to experience when interacting with me?
I want them to feel accepted, amused, better informed, cherished and better about themselves.
What have I had to struggle with?
My strongly critical nature towards others and myself.
Feeling unloved and unacceptable.
My appearance, food and weight.
Feeling stupid and uninformed.
Lack of success in achieving a long-term relationship.
What do I think I should hide or cover up?
That I am single.
My hatred and my prejudices.
Finally after all this soul-searching, I think I can answer Fox’s early question, “What is my valuable product and service and how is it different from everyone else’s on the planet?? – and it would be: through writing, I give voice to people so they value their own experience.
Fox says that he has recently given a seminar of some intensity called Money 101 and he was thinking of doing it again. You could just tell from the energy in the room, almost everybody wanted to take it even though he said enrollment would be very limited. So I made sure to get his card and I wrote him an e-mail. It said:
Yesterday I was thinking: I’ve always been scraping by for $$. Is this my life?
It is certainly not what I had envisioned for this stage of my life. Should I just accept that I am among those struggling in today’s economy and I should just be grateful that I am alive and so far able to make ends meet? Thank you for mentioning your Money 101 course. Maybe there’s hope. I would like to know if you’ve tracked your students’ success since you gave that first session. Are they still impecunious or on their way to greater abundance?
He replied that he would be sending me an e-mail message about the next class in the next two weeks and “hopefully” it would answer any questions I had. We’ll see.