M is for Message

To be successful, every business needs a compelling message. Call it a tagline, a slogan, or even an argument, your message is what gets people’s attention and keeps them listening to what you have to say.

In a message, every word counts. Unlike mission statements which tend to be long, circuitous sentences that try to say too much, a message has to be on point. Rather than describing what you do, it communicates what you stand for.

But a message is not just words, it is also who you are. This is the critical piece for those of us with wisdom to share: if you don’t embody that wisdom somehow in your physical presence, your work will never truly have the impact you seek. So messages are a two-part process: finding the right words, and then bringing those words into alignment with your actions.

You may not know what the right message is when you first start your business. The trick is to choose something that is close enough, then practice saying it to different groups of people until you find the variation that lands the best. This is essential market research.

Don’t be afraid to fine-tune your tagline as your business grows. You may find, like I did, that growth leads you into a different niche than when you started. Take every opportunity to alter your message so that it aligns even more strongly with what you do.

Think of your message as the distillation or essence of your personal and professional story. As such, it provides you with easy entry points into longer narratives about your life and work that you can express in writing, in person, or on the air. With your message as anchor, all the disparate strands of your life experiences weave together with fresh meaning and resonance.

Having a powerful, authentic message that unifies your work and intentions is life-changing. Just repeating it can give you energy, because it is not merely a marketing slogan but a passionate truth. But if you want it to inspire others and help change their lives as well, you must go one step further.

We have all heard the excellent advice to speak from your heart, and know how rare and refreshing it is to find someone who communicates on that level. Speaking from the heart takes practice, as it can make us feel uncomfortably open and vulnerable. But it is that mixture of vulnerability and courage that moves people and can transform a group.

When it comes to delivering your core message, it needs to come not just from your heart but from your center as well. To find this point, put your hand on your stomach just a couple inches below your navel. Martial artists and yogis know this as the hara, seat of our inner fire. Singers strengthen these core muscles to give their voices extra power.

Activating your heart inspires others, while the center stimulates action. To practice this kind of dual delivery, put one hand on your hara and another on your heart. First, say your message while imagining the sound coming directly from your heart. Then do the same thing while imagining the sound emanating from your center.

Practice this a few times until you feel the difference between the two. Next, let your voice come from both places simultaneously. Feel your voice filling your entire core as you speak. Imagine speaking this way to one person. Then try it again imagining two people, three, and so on. Finally, move your hands away and speak in a normal voice, letting your body return to its regular energetic state.

This simple exercise is a lifetime practice. Experiencing greater energy and visibility can feel like climbing a ladder when we are afraid of heights. And it is sometimes difficult to return to center after magnetizing our presence in this way.

This is why it is so important that your words and actions are in alignment. When your message is congruent with your inner being and you can embody it comfortably, your authenticity resonates with others and is reflected back by a growing tribe. Then you, and your business, are on your way.