The following originally appeared as my contribution to the Everyday Difference Project, hosted by Ruth Poundwhite throughout July 2019. Each day a different creative solo entrepreneur shared their story of how they’re making an everyday difference in their work, life, or the world, with Ruth’s hope that “these stories will empower and embolden us all to believe that our work matters, and give us the courage to share that work with the world.”
If you’d like to read all the other essays (and listen to some of them recorded as audio), you can download an ebook of the whole project HERE.
When Ruth invited me to contribute to this project and asked me to share how I’m making an everyday difference first of all I was incredibly flattered and grateful – and then my inner critic kicked in big time. Who the heck was I to think that I was actually making a difference in the world? Then some self-deprecation: but I’m just living my life and trying to do my best, nothing I do is particularly ground-breaking. And then eventually, a bit of confidence about what’s important to me, and why I keep showing up and wanting to help people.
What it really boils down to is this: my innate human instinct for connection and community, an unquenchable curiosity about what makes people tick, and a desire to find solutions to problems, or at least to hold space and support others as they find their own answers.
Sounds a bit grand, doesn’t it?
But I don’t think it has to be complicated – it’s just about paying attention and living in a way that feels authentic and true to who I am.
I by no means have everything figured out yet, but I think that’s also an important part of how I’m making a difference – by showing the journey with all its ups and the downs – and therefore how we can each follow our own path, and it doesn’t matter one jot if it looks absolutely nothing like anybody else’s.
I’m as guilty as anyone of sharing bright, cheerful, highlight reel posts on social media because I think that’s what people want to see, and there can be a level of shame about not actually feeling that way all the time. But in my experience, when I’ve shared more honestly about some struggle, or a bad day, or doubts and fears I’m feeling, or maybe asked a question that tackles a deeper, trickier, more emotive subject, those are the times when I get the biggest response – the most engaged comments, the most gratitude for telling the truth, the most frequent chimes of ‘I thought it was just me!’, and the most messages telling me that I’ve inspired someone.
It’s that kind of difference I’d like to make.
On reflection, I can see that the greater and most satisfying parts of my business journey have come from doing something I love or that makes a difference to me, before sharing it more widely. And offering it in a way that says “this is what I’ve tried personally, it’s helping me make positive changes, here are a few ideas for how I think you could tweak it to work for you, what do you think?”
This is exactly how my current keystone product – the Moments Journal – came about. My own struggles to find a journaling practice that worked for me led to a spark of inspiration which flared into a life of its own. Wanting to connect more deeply with my values, and to capture evidence that the experiences and feelings that are important to me are already happening, grew into a space that lets me savour the small but significant moments, a tool that helps me focus my attention and intention on how I want to live, and I’d also credit it with supporting me in manifesting some incredible opportunities and magical moments.
In all my marketing of the journal so far my strategy (if you can call it that) has been to share how I’m using it myself and to give examples of moments I’ve experienced, as well as making suggestions for different ways it could be adapted to suit someone else. Thanks to a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign (this still feels like a miracle to me!) there are now people all around the world using the Moments Journal and making it their own. I can’t begin to tell you how exciting I find that, and it’s unbelievably gratifying to hear about the differences the practice is making, and how people have found ways to use the journal that I wouldn’t have thought of. These examples are now also spreading, and providing more inspiration for more people, and so the web is expanding.
I’m a firm believer that there are no entirely new ideas, but that each of us takes our unique set of experiences and knowledge and mixes things up to create our own version – and every single one of them is of value. I mentioned self-doubt and that ‘who am I to…’ voice at the beginning, and this sense of having nothing new to offer can definitely trigger that.
But I once heard someone say that whatever it is:
someone somewhere needs to hear it from your voice.
And perhaps this is the real key to making an everyday difference. That your unique way of thinking, feeling, expressing yourself, will somehow resonate just perfectly for someone else.
You may not know them, you may not even be aware that they’ve heard you (it happens so often that you won’t know someone who buys from you, but they’ll tell you they’ve been following your work religiously for years!), but whatever it was in that moment that connected with them will make a life-changing difference on some level. Whether it’s a physical thing you made, a story you told, a question you asked – it all matters.
That’s why I’m interested in having more conversations with people, but really, for me, what it’s about is wanting to dive into understanding the human condition in all its gloriously complicated variety, to listen to what people are thinking about, worried about, excited about, and to ask the questions that will help you make a bit more sense of your existence.
I’ve felt the huge difference that having a truly open conversation with someone can make, and I want to pass on that privilege to more people looking for someone to really hear them. Sometimes that can feel like the biggest thing in the world – to be truly seen and feel a genuine connection with another human being, and if I can be the one to walk alongside you for even a few steps of your journey, then I will count it a great honour.