Here’s a little known fact about Yours Truly.
I was once a preacher.
I never actually led a congregation. And the only sermon I ever preached was in front of a bunch of other students at a very small seminary in rural Washington State I attended from 1998-2001.
I was given a “minister’s card” or something like that when I graduated. I don’t remember exactly what it was.
But from around 1997ish until about 2002, that was my singular goal in life: to be a preacher.
The reason I never achieved that goal is because, looking back at the experience, I was just following the crowd. All of my friends in the Army went to the Bible school, so I thought I was supposed to go too.
Plus, the organization with which I was associated exhibited more qualities of a cult than a church.
I guess deep down, it was never anything I could get truly excited about.
When I was headlong engaged with my studies from 1998-01, and working a full-time job, I didn’t really have time or the wherewithal, not to mention basic life experience, to sense anything was amiss.
But when I finished in 2001, I had time to observe my environment, as well as experience some of the world around me. And it led me to conclude that some things about this organization I had devoted my entire body and mind for the last 6 years or so were terribly wrong.
- Publicly shunning people who disagreed with “The Leadership” of the org.
- Publicly humiliating people who broke any of the countless number of rules “The Dear Leader” established – to keep people from sinning and going to Hell, of course.
- Asking permission from “The Dear Leader” or his designated underling for things like having people over for dinner, riding together on road trips and stopping at the store for milk on the way home from a class. (Not asking permission would earn you public shunning AND a public humiliation.)
- Believing a single person communed with and was a direct mouthpiece of GAWD ALMIGHTY; thus any instruction he gives is as though GAWD is giving direct orders for your life, to which you must obey to the letter or suffer eternal damnation.
Yep, if it walks like a cult, quacks like a cult and smells like a cult – it’s most definitely a cult.
Yet, in spite of the extraordinary lifestyle that I, in my naivete, accepted as ordinary, there were some good and lasting things that came out of the experience.
– I got really good at typing.
– I learned a work ethic, getting all my assignments done on time while working a full time job.
– I learned how to tie a tie in under 30 seconds.
And of course, in the tradition of a broken clock being right twice a day, there were a few pieces of wisdom shared that have had a lasting effect on me.
One of them was when The Dear Leader shared with us this gem:
“If you want to preach to a thousand people, you must first preach to one person. And that person is yourself.”
Now, to be fair, GAWD ALMIGHTY did speak this word of truth to The Dear Leader…
In the form of a Zig Ziglar tape, recorded for all salesmen, including our Dear Leader.
It turns out good ‘ol Zig (RIP) was used by GAWD to deliver more than a few such nuggets to those of us who were chosen by HEEIM to spread the Light of the GOSSPUHL to the weary masses around the world who were yearning to be freed from the bondage of their passions and lusts.
But the truths in that one statement from Zig are so profound, it’s worth unpacking for a moment.
What do you mean preach to yourself?
How many people in this world are just following the crowd in some of the most important decision they’ll make in their life?
“Everyone else is going to college and majoring in Music. I guess I should do that too.”
And incur tens of thousands of dollars in debt in the process.
All because everyone else is doing it.
And we wonder why no one is happy.
Preaching to yourself means you’ve convinced yourself that what you do is valuable.
When you’re convinced of that, you can sell anything.
How is it that someone can make a good living as a sales rep for a toilet paper company?
It’s not because he was born with superior communication skills. It’s not because the toilet paper he sells is softer than the next brand.
It’s because that person has preached a sermon to himself over and over.
“You are a person of value.”
“Today, you’re going to create rapport with your clients so that they’ll know, like and trust you – and then want to buy from you.”
If this is true for someone selling something mundane like toilet paper, why do we convince ourselves that we can’t sell?
It’s because we haven’t sold ourselves on ourselves.
We haven’t convinced ourselves that what we offer is going to make the world a better place.
We’re convinced that success is for someone else. That we’re destined to take the follow forever.
If you’ll take the time to preach that sermon to yourself, stuff like stage fright, the awkwardness of seeing yourself on Facebook, or on a podcast, won’t be an issue.
Because now you have a mission.
You’re not trying to fit into the status quo, or to play something the way your professor says is the “correct” way.
That kind of stuff is for people who want a job – not for a MusicPreneur.
The “correct” way is the way that pleases your audience – not a conductor or an audition committee.
When you get right down to it, we’re not selling toilet paper, or a concert, or an album, or a new way of teaching the jaw harp.
We’re selling ourselves.
Once you’re convinced that you are a person of value, you can sell anything your conscience allows you to.
And when you finally find that thing that you know you were put on this earth to do, you’re not selling anything.
You’re sharing something that people need to hear and see and experience for their lives to be complete.
Not everyone of course, but your tribe.
It’s not awkward to see your face on Facebook, or to hear your voice on a podcast. You’re just doing the things necessary to reach your tribe and save them from the despair and anguish that comes from not experiencing what you have to offer.
James, this sounds corny, outlandish, and downright stupid…
Then you’re reading the wrong blog.
Go and post your cat videos and Game of Thrones memes on Facebook.
You’re selling yourself.
When you’re convinced that, you’ll be a different person than when you’re following the crowd.
And people will take note, and then they’ll invest in you intellectually, emotionally and financially.