I get a call to facilitate a marketing session. It’s supposed to run for six solid hours, packed with physical activities to make it stick and an immediate financial reward as soon as it’s all done.
Ah, the students are business people, just like me. They have been in the game for two years I gather. They aren’t taking the class for the primary ‘How Tos‘. They have been in such and are now looking to upgrade their customer-fishing tricks. Something in the range of understanding the waters and capitalizing on digital baits where necessary. They want to also understand what they could be doing wrong, and if the little right they’ve been up to is worth throwing more money and mind to.
In English, “They will have all the questions in the world. And then some!”
I’m not ready for this. How can I when I can’t even convince my online clients to hire me?
There’s nothing real about me. So I’m what you would call a schemer. This fraudulent sensation dominates my internal conversations urging me to hate myself. I’m not worthy to be called a trainer. The soliloquy goes on and on until something more newsworthy shows up in my life. The agony!
Wait a minute. I forgot to introduce myself, though I believe you already know me. Where are my manners?
I’m a freelance writer running an online shop right here, hawking along Upwork streets and sometimes on Medium.com. Those are my main avenues. I sell writing as a service. This doesn’t imply employment. I’m simply looking for clients to sell my writing services to. Folks who’ve got something they need to be written.
I won’t answer to them as copywriters in publishing or advertising firms do. No. I’m a business person. And a solopreneur at that.
But I’m also a trainer. Yes, I facilitate entrepreneurship training in the marketing department to be precise. And that is where the problem begins.
The problem goes something like this. It’s been over a year since I aced a client online for my writing services. My main fishing hole. No, I’ve not been waiting for one to crawl into my contact forms seeking my services. Or an offer through Upwork after reading my profile and getting glued to my numerous enticing feedback from former clients.
I have been writing fresh proposals for jobs on Upwork and have participated in various contests on Medium. But day after day invisible crickets flood my inbox. No requests for interviews. No wins in the contests. And no comments in the ‘hire me’ themed articles on the website.
Do you now see why I’m tense?
Writing is my chief source of income. It has been since 2017. And without anyone taking my bait in the area, online especially, my confidence levels have taken a terrible hit. What good am I when I can’t make money writing?
This question haunts me every time I write a proposal for a job on Upwork. Or throw in a juicy story for a contest. The pain of clicking ‘Send’ when there are 99% chances of rejection as my efforts go to waste drains the remaining pint of confidence. I’m broken.
Soon everything I do, from writing for this website, training and facilitation, to team building take a hit. The confidence to pursue them too fades into nothingness. There’s not an iota of strength to summon more of it from my mental wells. I’m drained.
And so every offer I get to train is met with a rehearsed, “I’m not available on that day. Sorry.” A phrase I automate so well that the caller buys the story at once. Stamped receipt provided.
Then crazier things begin to happen. I literally find myself engaged to the brim on the day I would have been out facilitating the marketing class. No, it’s not a coincidence. This has something to do with the miracles my mind works. You know, when you want something so badly, believe deeply that it will happen, say it with conviction and speak it to yourself morning, noon and night?
It does come to pass.
So I find myself travelling to the village for a week. Trailing a friend to an event I didn’t have to attend. Or worse still, entertaining guests at home against my wish. Yes! These things happen on the exact days and times I’m supposed to be training. No. This isn’t witchcraft. I’ve just served myself a miracle! Talk of shooting myself in the foot.
But where exactly did my confidence go?
I’m tired of winning the negative miracles. I ponder this question over and over after soaking for the umpteenth time in James Clear’s Atomic Habits and Joseph Murphy’s The Miracles of the Mind, audiobooks. Oh, I should have mentioned. I don’t as a matter-of-factly listen to music for lack of a favourite genre. So when you see me walking around with earbuds stuffed in my decorated ears, I’m soaking in an audiobook.
Back to the story. It’s now clear I have formed a habit of letting facilitation opportunities fly above my head to the next available trainer. And I have perfected the art of faking appointments on the proposed facilitation date to the point of actualizing them. The miracles are manifesting fast and furious. And I’m winning at the game of losing money, networks and trust from those who depend on me for such services. Just the things my heart desires.
How this is possible comes to light at last, and I begin looking for ways to reverse the reaction. Or at least erase the neuropathways I have enabled to make this happen.
Then my phone dings and a message from Leo, a gentleman I have secretly made my role model as far as facilitating is concerned, pop up. To say he wears a holy grail on matters concerning training and team building is an understatement. He is ‘it’! He wants to catch up and I waste no time planning around the ask. I happen to be at Nyali Cinemax, less than ten minutes from his office.
“Can we link up at 1.30 pm?”
I text back knowing only too well I will see him ten minutes earlier. It’s lunch hour and there’s no sin in showing up before the said time. Besides, I showed up 30 minutes before my first interview with him last year. 20 minutes is a tone-down, I convince myself.
The purified Nyali breeze sips through the slightly shut doors teasing the back of my shaven head and my toes, thanks to the Swahili sandals adorning my feet. I’m sitting face to face with the master of the game, Leo himself. How he maintains the humble stature with all the wisdom and facilitation antics up his sleeve beats me. I swear I wouldn’t.
He’s excited to see me and can’t wait to pick my brain. The brain of his role model, a shocking discovery I make at the end of the 40 minutes chat. This beats me. He asks about all my interests in a peculiar order. My physical and mental health first. Followed by my bodybuilding fetish, to which I flash my phone screen for a peek at my target physique; Kiran Dembla’s image. And then training and facilitation, the roles I have been hiding from.
I walk him through each in intimate detail and methodically pause allowing him to interrupt at all the perfect junctions. He takes the cue and slides in a detail or two of his life that fits the puzzle. It all syncs. Then he asks about my writing, the area he believes I thrive in and confirms my hearing. He believes in me. He does! My role model believes in me!
My mind literally tumbles in a dozen somersaults, afro dance and finally, a curtsy marked with the widest grin my entire face can accommodate. By the time it settles on its mat, I catch myself staring at the one person I have looked up to on all matters of training. My big brother! In his left hand is a thread leading to ‘Finding the lost confidence‘. This is my ticket to serving the world the best way I know how!
All this I see in my mind.
No, I don’t jump to my feet and dance like my mind. I’m calm, ignoring the boiling mix of awe and excitement deep within and my heart rate rising by the second.
“I have often wondered why exactly I started writing.” I state in the calmest voice my throat can muster. Far from an easy task. It’s a rhetorical question. Obviously. Leo gets the desperation in my voice. Did I say it out loud?
“When coaching a team I give them a problem to tackle.” He smiles. “Then I sit in silence watching their futile attempt at solving it. Them blinding themselves into it for minutes on end when it should take them just a few seconds.” His eyes narrow as if sorting for a particular item in his brain. I can feel, literally feel the guru in him preparing to drop another bag of wisdom.
“And then what happens?”
“I ask them to pull out.” He straightens his back with emphasis. “Pull out their heads from the cup of troubles and take a few steps back. Then a few more. Then some.”
By this time I see myself stepping away from my cup of no-confidence. One step. Two steps. Seven. Twelve. Slowly but surely I feel the Judas in me fading into oblivion. Then clarity occupies my mind. The fraudster is no more. I remember why I began writing. To vent. To excite my inner child. To journal my dreams. To educate the mass I may never meet. To share an experience. To cheer a soul I love. But most of all to store a memory that deserves living beyond my generation.
Writing had nothing to do with making money, at least in the beginning. I did it for the love of it. But opportunities started pouring and the next thing I remember I was taking the ‘Making Money Online with Writing’ courses both online and offline. And then money began raining my way.
Then I lost sight of my reason for writing. And when the money rain ceased, I convinced myself that my writing wasn’t worth being read. And that my writing services weren’t buyable. So I stopped journaling. Then stopped reading my own work, which by the way always acted as my reminder of why I wrote. I even gave up educating and entertaining my online audience.
Soon I filled my writing wells with votes of no confidence and weeds began to grow on the surface creeping into the training wells. Then the teambuilding wells. And the networking wells. I lived a sorry life.
But the chat with Leo brought me back to my senses. I grabbed the thread and began excavating the wells I had filled with lost confidence. As I write this part right now I’m armed with Leo’s voice and a dozen of tools from the audiobooks I feast on daily. They have equipped me with the focus, desire, belief and expectation to excavate with success each one of my interests. I’m deep in the wells searching for my confidence as a matter of priority.
I don’t expect to just land my lost confidence. No, this journey is way better than that. I’m looking to find it and refine it with every experience I have gathered along the way.
The fact that I’m writing about this experience, not necessarily that you may find and read it, even though you are reading it right now, is a true indication that I’m coming back up!
My writing wells are flowing.
My training wells overflowing.
My teambuilding wells turned into hot springs!
I’m back bigger, badder, better, and brutal!
I don’t know if Leo, his true name, will ever read this article. But whether he does or not is a by-the-way. I’m however grateful that our paths crossed, again. Bless you, Leo!
PS: A meeting with your role model is the best thing that can ever happen to a stuck mind.
Now I know. I’m back in full and refined confidence. I sign in!