How to promote your work: Stick your head in the sand or dance on the beach?

How to promote your work: Stick your head in the sand or dance on the beach?

hiding_dancing_beach_11-2013If you are reading this, you’ve probably thought a fair amount about how to promote your work. My guess is that some of that thinking has been fraught with feelings ranging from queasiness to outright disgust.

As if that weren’t uncomfortable enough, you probably feel pressure to make the right choices, not to mention pressure to follow through on those choices, whether you want to or not.

This article is about finding your way through the noisy landscape of self promotion so that you can make wise choices, feel good about them, and thrive.

Maybe you shouldn’t think about it.

It just makes sense that smart choices begin with smart thinking. But sometimes thinking about how to promote yourself is the worst thing you can do.
Here’s why.

When you’re wrapped around the axle, running in circles, stuck in your stuff (or is it just me?), the more you try to think of the right thing to do, the more confused you become.

Then, if you happen to think that you shouldn’t be confused or that you can’t afford to be confused, you may find yourself dodging fear, shame, resentment–or any number of negative emotions that ride on the coattails of confusion.

Need I point out that your thinking in moments like these is less than helpful?

Hey, there’s no fault or blame here. It’s just a fact that human beings sometimes lose contact with their innate wisdom and the quality of their thinking takes a dive. Don’t take it personally.

It’s easy to tell when thinking will or won’t help

A simple, reliable, even foolproof way to know if your thinking isn’t helpful is to notice how you feel.

Feel crummy? No offense, but it’s a cinch that your thinking is cramped, limited, and unimaginative. (Except when it comes to what The Charming Prince calls “the parade of horrible imaginables.”) At times like this, thinking more can’t possibly help.

Instead, step back. And I don’t mean, “Step back and think about it.” I mean just step back.

Step back and hang out. Dance. Make art. Sleep. Do something else until your thinking and feeling change. Because if you leave them alone, they will.

Trust a nice feeling

Feeling nice? It’s a cinch that your thinking is spacious, creative, and resourceful.

That nice feeling is a sign that you are in touch with your innate wellbeing. That means that you are also in touch with wisdom. These are the times to lean into the nice feeling and allow your thinking to flow.

In short, let yourself be guided by a nice feeling.

It’s not about putting your head in the sand

You might wonder if stepping back when your thinking feels crummy is like hiding your head in the sand. Aren’t you just avoiding what you need to do?

I think not. Stepping back from your thinking when you feel crummy and trusting it when you feel nice is the opposite of putting your head in the sand. It’s more like dancing on the beach.

When you trust a nice feeling to guide your decisions, you naturally show up in a more relaxed yet engaged way. You smile more. You listen better. You send out a good vibe.

And that’s the essence of effective (dare I say authentic?) promotion.

Photo credits: Ostrich via Wikimedia; Beach dance by Mike Baird via Flickr


  1. Steven Washer

    Nicely said, Molly! Something expressed by Srikumar Rao that has helped me in the past is related to this idea; that if you invest in the process rather than the outcome you’ll be far happier in the pursuit of both.

  2. Susan Stitt

    Thank you Molly, I really like this. Your comment at the end about authentic promotion really resonates for me. It makes me think about when I’m most effective in “selling” moments is when I’m relaxed, curious, focused on the person in front of me and confident about my ability to add value. That’s when I send out a vibe that attracts. When I’m worried about how I’m showing up or focused on closing a sale (vs. adding value to the person in front of me), my vibe is definitely less attractive! I have a couple of desired identities/frameworks that call me to this place of confidence and I take a few seconds to ground myself in those identities before I meet a potential new client. The power of a metaphor or visual! That’s why I love your images of the head in sand vs. the dancing girl.

  3. Penelope

    Molly, I love this. I have hired a web designer and feel like I am going in circles with not so noble thinking. I really want to work with people in creating spaces they love and started to really pick apart my own house. Really funny when I step back and realize we need to love our space not everyone else.

  4. Cindy Reinhardt

    Thanks Molly! Exactly what I needed to shift this day!


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