Oops! Caught in the trap of being inauthentic… (again!)

Dancing with the mystery.

As I enter my eighth month of pregnancy, I am aware that this little guy growing in my belly is quite a mystery. He’s about to change our lives entirely… Alter the dynamics of our family in a way that can’t be undone… Yet I don’t really know who he is.

And it reminds me of when I first conceived of Soul Business. You might have read about it in my earlier posts – how the whole thing came to me at 3am in flash of light…

Although, in a way, it was only a thought and a name… It was also a tangible presence that was entering my life… And I had this knowing that it would be with me for years to come.

Still, back then I had very little idea of what Soul Business actually is… And even less about what our relationship would entail! Talk about dancing with the mystery.

The baby grows up.

Anyway, like a baby grows from a divine cherub to a demanding, awe-inspiring toddler, Soul Business has been gradually revealing its personality to me.

One of the things that has become crystal clear to me in the months we’ve been dancing together, is that Soul Business plants a flag in the ground and says: “It’s time to cut the crap. Stop pretending you are someone else and show up as your real selfespecially in your business.”

This is wildly exciting and embarrassingly challenging.

I get excited when I get to talk and teach and coach and write about how to be authentic – how to be yourself in business.

And I get freaked out – regularly – when I realise how much work I personally have to do in this area. How much work is that, you ask? A lot.

‘Being yourself’ may not sound like a big deal to you… But it’s amazing how strong the tendencies are to ‘put on a front’, play it cool, or tough, or  funny (when it’s not), make it look  better than it is… and, basically, bend or hide the truth to put yourself and your business in a better light. I’m not talking about being unethical. I’m talking about everyday marketing practices, for one.

And, frankly, sometimes, it really is most appropriate to ‘bend the truth to make yourself look good’. That’s part of business.

So, when does ‘bending the truth’ mean being inauthentic and when is it just good professional practice?

Let me explore this through an example…

I recently decided to get more systematic about how and when I write these these posts. You may have noticed that they come out weekly-ish. Emphasis on the –ish. That’s anywhere between 5 and 15 days apart… (I think).

So, I decided to start with a list of future topics that I could write about on my blog.

(I was inspired to do this by one of my clients – Wendy Sarkissian – who has taken to blogging like a duck to water. You can read her touching and poetic posts about community engagement, inclusion, and living in the bush with a gypsy, some rats and a carpet snake here…)

I took my beginning-of-a-list to The Business Oasis (that’s where I go to get support from like-minded business owners on everything from editing a page on my website to working out my business strategy for the next six months) and I asked the crew to help to me brainstorm – say – 100 future blog topics, just for fun!

And the multi-talented, and wonderfully authentic Mona Grayson gave me the most logical advice:

Yollana – Do you have a list of subscribers? One of the best ways to find out what to write about is to survey your list.

Here are some questions you can ask them:

  • What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing in your business right now?
  • Why do you think you’re having that challenge?
  • What kinds of things have you tried in order to solve that challenge and what were the results?

…. etc

Of course, I felt embarrassed because I *know* that… It’s like, “How to think up topics for your articles: 101” from my training with Heart of Business.

So, here’s what I said:

Mona… You are right, of course, that my subscribers are the best people to ask. My list is small. Only 40 or so.  I think my resistance to asking them a question is a fear of rejection… What if no one replies?”

[Actually, there are now 53  people subscribed to my list – Wahoo! Welcome Kirsten, Caroline, Trisha and Marti – who all joined since my last post.]

I felt really tender about this. And it wasn’t just fear of rejection. I realized that I had fallen into that same old trap that I have fallen into in the past… Projecting an “image” of bigness out to the world in order to look credible, valuable, lovable and worthy of attention.

The trap of being inauthentic

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

(I wish you could hear the tone of those ‘oh dears’… It’s, ah, gentle, whimsical, humorous and dramatic. It’s a special way that my dad says it… By the way, my dad and mum make up two of those 53 subscribers to my newsletter… Hi mum! Hi dad! :))

Well, as you can see, I’ve started to lighten up about it now. It’s not that bad, having just 53 people to share my deepest Soul Business musings with. In fact, taking a closer look at this tender spot has helped me to realize just how valuable each of you are. How grateful I am for you being here, as Soul Business learns to stand and walk and talk… And all those other wildly exciting and embarrassingly challenging things that growing people and growing businesses do.

So, are there lessons for you and your business in all this?

1. Well, if you catch yourself trying to play big in your business, or put on a front or be more than you are… You’re in good company. And it helps to have a good laugh (or cry) about it.

2. If you have no idea what you’re business is actually about… Or you know a bit, but it’s still like dancing with a mystery every day… You’re still in good company. In the words of the enlightened master, HWL Poonjaji, “The Self will always be a mystery because there can never be anything apart from it to comprehend it, analyse it or understand it.” So, keep dancing!

3. If your heart longs for help from like-minded people who know a bit about business… That ‘s a good thing! It means your heart is working properly. Like having children, we are not meant to make this journey alone: A business is a community endeavour. If you feel like you could do with support, get it! Here, or here (look under products> the business oasis community), or anywhere else you feel called…

4. After 1, 2 and 3, you should be starting to get over that rather impossible practice of needing to have it all figured out.

This is a good time to actually stop and listen deeply to your own Soul, and to the Soul of your Business…

Some questions you might ask:

  • What is your secret message for the world?
  • Where does your business want to plant its flag?
  • When you speak in your own voice, how does it sound?
  • If no one was judging you, what would you do?
  • Is there anything you’ve been hiding from your clients that might actually bring them closer to you?


The bottom line: The difference between ‘being inauthentic’ and ‘good professional practice’ is a fine line that you can only work out for yourself and the Soul of your Business. Have a chat about it together and see what you come up with.

What do you think? Am I making sense… Or sounding like a rambling you-know-what?

Do any of parts of this post resonate for you and your business?

How do you find the right balance between authenticity and the ‘good professional image’?



8 Responses

  1. Sarah Bray says:

    Kudos to you for saying what we all feel on this issue – it’s easy to pretend that we know everything. Even when we try to cover our tracks, it still shows up. Being honest is *so scary* – even when you’re being honest about the things that make you rock! It all takes guts…and for this ordinarily not-gutsy gal, I’m definitely having to work on it. Thanks for reminding me that it’s worth it!

  2. Trisha Cupra says:

    Hi Yollana. Isn’t it funny how we’re never ashamed of our children being babies in the beginning – it’s just how nature intended it. But when our businesses are babies, we feel scared that other people will notice. So we talk about our little baby businesses as though they’re all grown up already.

    53 isn’t a bad number for a list. I don’t even have a list yet. I have an AWeber account, but no eZine, let alone a free giveaway. But I’m figuring it out slowly.

    Baby steps, right? 🙂

  3. Leonie says:

    Hey, love from your mum, thanks for the thoughts, always poetically relevant.

  4. yollana says:

    Thanks mum 🙂

    And thanks for your beautiful comment on the phone – that 53 people connected with their hearts is more than 1000 people who aren’t. So true!

  5. Yollana, it is so cool to get to meet you “in your office”! Thank you for bringing up these two posts in the Oasis. So much of what you wrote in this post (and in Be Yourself) is just right where I am! And I love your questions at the end. And thank you for voicing that you have 53 folks on your list! I was feeling pathetic with about my basically non-list, and perhaps 4 real followers on my blog … but the truth is, those readers are amazing women. I am so enjoying getting to know them–from reading their responses to my posts, to reading their blogs (which I can do because I have a small list!). Anyway, your questions remind me that the time has come to just gather my courage and ask them some questions. And to ask myself these questions again (the ones you list) as I’m preparing to ‘plant my flag’. And to be ok with and even curious about the Mystery of my biz. I’m not going to have it all figured out!

  6. yollana says:

    Ah, Jane… So lovely of you to comment. Wow. Your story really emphasises my point even more. Four great women, and the opportunity to go deeper with each of them.

    It reminds me of a quote I once heard on one of Marianne Williamson’s audios. It was a long time ago, so I’ll have to tell it as best as I remember it. She was talking about your “ministry”, meaning the people who listen to you – whatever it is that you “preach” (ie. it doesn’t have to be religious). And she basically said that god gives you your ministry, to see if you can manage it. First one person, then four. When you tend to that which you have, it grows naturally and organically. If you don’t love an honour and tend to what you have (or fall into thinking it doesn’t count cos it’s too small), then you give the message to the Universe that you can’t even handle four, and is slow to give you more.

    I love that you and your “raving fans” are developing a close community by posting on each others blogs. I wonder if you might even explore other ways that you can support beach other in your businesses?

  7. Hey Yollana
    I love what you have written here – all your writing is inspiring me and giving me more courage to share what is authentic and what is real to me – thank you so much

  8. yollana says:

    Janet, thank you! I’m so happy that this work is supporting you to be more you. I deeply believe that this, more than anything, is what the world wants and needs from you. Love Yollana