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I had an enlightening conversation with my uncle a few weeks ago.
He's an author and motivational speaker.
He's also curious about the world like I am and tried a bunch of different careers before creating one that he truly loved.
He was a dance instructor. He dabbled in comedy. He traveled the world to find meaning.
He seemed like the perfect person to talk to about questions I had related to my first product.
I was just about to publish my first book, In Search of Happiness, and I wanted to know what he thought about promoting it.
I hate sleazy marketing, and I was calling him for help.
He had great advice that I've been starting to use.
And it turns out, this is great advice for anyone, not just people promoting books.
What the Heck is a Poet Advocate?
This is what my uncle told me during that conversation a few weeks ago:
"You need a way to describe yourself, an angle.
You need something that will demonstrate your unique take while helping you stand out.
What about the phrase poet advocate?"
It didn't make sense to me at first. And I think it didn't make sense because it was a phrase that I haven't heard very often--if at all.
Poet advocate. It had a nice ring to it.
I've considered myself a mental health advocate for years. Mental health is what I love. It's my passion. Spreading awareness is something that brings me great joy. But it's a generic term that can mean a lot of different things.
It's not just the mere fact of spreading awareness that I like so much; I also love the way in which I can do it. I've always loved to read and write. But I like reading and writing words that sound beautiful, that ring out when you read them, whether you're hearing them in your head as you scan the page or saying them out loud to yourself or others. There's magic in the movement of words. I've always thought that.
"You're a poet advocate," my uncle said.
I'd never considered that phrase before. But those two words have stayed with me, and that's a sign that the mean something to me and that it's worth trying them on for size. So I'm in the process of adopting that identity, of showing the way that words can create meaning and make mental health more accessible to all.
This story gets me to my big point, a lesson for you, the individual, managing your own life and carving your own path as you navigate this often-difficult world.
Carve Your Own Path. Create Your Category.
I find that life gets boring when life becomes a churning sea of sameness. Maybe you feel the same way.
Part of living is expanding to fill the void. When you're in a sea of sameness, you tend to swim in place.
But when you get out of the sea, you start to find new things. This is exciting, but it also poses challenges. It leads to stumbling on rocks that can trip you up.
That's why it can be helpful to create your own category and carve your own path. Here's how to do it.
Poet Advocate is a powerful concept because it packs a lot into those two words. It immediately captures attention and signals that these two contrasting words are going to come together somehow to create something surprising and larger than either word can capture by themselves.
Follow this process to determine your own category:
- Decide on where you'd like to focus - In what area of your life do you want to see different results? Is it at home? The workplace? With friends? In public? In a service-oriented volunteer group? Decide where you need to create a category in the first place.
- Figure out where you're stuck - Now, it wouldn't make much sense to reinvent yourself and carve a new path if you didn't feel some kind of pressure to do so. I'm not saying this is societal pressure, necessarily. Usually, like it was in my case, it's internal pressure. Wherever you feel you're not getting good results is where you want to start with this powerful approach.
- Understand what you'd like to accomplish - No great effort is possible without a plan of some sort. Before you dive into your new path, ask yourself: What am I hoping to gain? What is the outcome I'm wanting for myself?
- Test, test, and test again - If you've read my mental health email issues for more than a month, you know that I believe in the power of experimentation. Nothing happens the way you want it the first time you try something new. You'll need to adjust your approach. You'll need to test, test, and test twenty more times. It's just life. Mut it's exciting because, once you adopt a testing mindset, you know that you can usually get the results you want through relentless experimentation.
Following this process isn't foolproof.
Now now, brown cow. I'm not calling you a fool--I'm saying that no process leads to automatic success. All processes must be tinkered with until they produce intended results.
So tinker away. Treat your life like an experiment. Because it is.
And once you find the category that is your own, your insight becomes sharper and your path becomes easier to carve.