Those of you who visit my coaching website frequently will notice yet another shift in the images and language used on my welcome page. Experts in such things have taught me I have four seconds to capture or lose the attention of visitors to my website. So, what and how I communicate in the opening section of that page is potentially the most important online marketing I’ll ever do. Yes, all the details about services and benefits and the many value-packed free downloads I offer do count, but if I lose you in the first four seconds of your first visit to my welcome page, I may never have another opportunity to woo and wow you with all the other cool stuff on my site. NO PRESSURE, DEBORAH—JUST GET IT RIGHT IN THE FIRST FOUR SECONDS!
Because humans are dynamic beings who can become easily bored and distracted, that means getting it right over and over in new and ever more interesting ways. So it makes sense that marketing my coaching brand, or any brand, is best perceived as a journey and a relationship not a destination or a transaction.
Given that Hay House/Balboa Press just released my first book, Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life, in June 2013 and I am knee-deep in collaborating with my HHBP publicist on a 12-week global publicity campaign to reach 5,000 media outlets worldwide, it also makes sense that we’d be taking a fresh look at my branding and marketing communication and coming up with some new approaches. In the process of that review and reconfiguration, I discovered an opportunity—a place where my own fear-based, judgmental limiting beliefs were blocking me from employing the full range of marketing assets at my disposal.
Because my personal journey to wholeness included a sustained eighty-pound weight loss, many of my colleagues suggested, quite logically, that I brand myself as a weight loss coach, but I resisted. (They also suggested, based on my 30-year career in organization transformation consulting, that I brand myself a corporate or executive coach; my initial resistance to that logical suggestion is a story for another blog.)
As I share in my book, it’s true that my Journey to Wholeness started with regaining a sense of control over my physical care—what I ate and how I exercised. Losing eighty pounds—and keeping it off—is the part of the story that many people respect and even envy. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. If all I accomplished were to change my body through healthy eating and exercise, I would have stopped far short of the wholeness I was seeking.
While a healthy diet and significant daily exercise were necessary factors, they were only the price of admission to attaining the life of deep peace, lasting joy, and meaningful relationships I desired. Once I understood that excess physical weight is often just a symbol for excess spiritual weight, I realized finding wholeness is not primarily about losing body fat. It involves caring enough about myself to create an environment in which I nurture and cherish all aspects of myself. In essence, that is the core message of hope and possibilities I set my intention to share through my coaching and my book.
This past week I’ve been focused on preparing the materials to support a 10-hour book signing I’ll be hosting at my local gym, Fitness 19 in Aurora, Colorado. In preparation, I created a large poster featuring before and after pictures of me, along with an image of the front cover of my book. It’s the first time I’ve leveraged those weight loss images to drive home the magnitude of the change I experienced. The response has been overwhelming. People who knew my story, and knew my sustained 80-pound weight loss was also accompanied by freedom from a ten-year bout of debilitating depression and finding my purpose guiding others on their journeys, have been blown away by seeing the before and after pictures of me. Their imagination of how different I looked 80-pounds heavier didn’t come close to the reality. Their idea of what the heavier me must have looked like didn’t begin to capture the impact of the absence of light in my eyes and room-brightening smile that are now my norm.
As I explored the implications of the added encouragement my before and after pictures were having and how it might affect my ongoing marketing, I wrestled with whether using the pictures more freely would mean I was selling out. Hip deep in that dilemma, I realized that I had decided that every aspect of my transformative experience, except my physical weight loss, was worthy of respect, emphasis and promotion. And that’s where I found the fear in my motivation—I was rejecting a part of my experience as not worthy based on a fear that others might label me superficial and vain for focusing on weight loss. I’d forgotten that morbid obesity isn’t just a matter of vanity, it is a serious health risk that limits the quality and longevity of the lives of millions every day. Obesity is now at epidemics levels in our culture. Millions continue to struggle daily with ever more extreme diets without achieving significant, lasting weight loss. Who was I to decide what part of my experience the Universe was allowed to use to encourage and inspire others with hope and possibilities? Talk about arrogance.
In that moment I knew it was time to bring out the big guns (or big thighs) and share my pictures in the context of reminding my audience that persistent excess external weight is often a symbol of untreated internal weight. As I learned on my journey and share in the Discovery Framework in my book, the key to living a life you love is to feed all of your senses in a balanced way, so no one sense will take over, trying to fill voids it can never hope to fill. Sensory balance doesn’t just apply to the five outer senses through which we celebrate our external world but also to the four inner senses of creativity, vitality, spirituality, and belonging, through which we imbue our experience with meaning.
The major reason many of us can’t sustain the positive results of diet and exercise is that most programs do not get to the root issue—an imbalance in the care and feeding of our souls. I learned to pay attention to how I am feeding all of my senses—content and frequency—and whether each is being starved, smothered, or healthily sustained. While my weight loss certainly involved more mindful and nutritious eating as well as regular exercise, the degree of success and ability to sustain a healthier, happier, more harmonious lifestyle was much more dependent on balanced feeding of all nine senses.
The journey that began with transforming my own life shifted naturally into meaningful work as a life coach, radio host, author, writer, speaker and singer, through which I help others discover that health, peace, and joy are possible for them as well. If it’s possible for me, it’s possible for anyone. If any of us is worthy of such a life, we all are.
The only person controlling your life is you! Choose your energy and change your life. If you enjoy making yourself miserable, limiting your options and contaminating the energy of every relationship and situation you encounter, you are free to continue doing so. But if you are intrigued by the possibilities inherent in learning to recognize and neutralize the fear-fueled judge in your head, consider reading my book Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!
Below you can read the new introductory copy from the welcome page of my website and click the pic to view the 40-second video featuring pairs of images that illustrate eight of the many ways choosing your energy can change your life physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The fifth pair of images features me before and after. Enjoy!
You probably came here today because you are searching for something
Many people seek a life coach believing they need help losing weight, solving a complex problem or breaking an unwanted habit. But, often, that search is not really about weight, problems or habits. It’s about discovering our true selves, honoring our self-worth and restoring our zest for life.