*This is Part 2 in a two-part series about Online Marketing and Discernment. In Part 1 I shared ‘real talk’ about how we REALLY feel about online marketing. Bottom line? We feel overcome, annoyed, distracted and fatigued.
Part 2: How to Cultivate Greater Discernment
With so much information and so many ideas competing for our attention, it takes immense mental bandwidth to filter out what is not meant for us, and feel confident with the decisions we make.
In most of my coaching relationships the question inevitably arises: ‘Should I be doing *this*?’ What so many business owners long for is that unwavering sense of self-trust, where, at our core, we know we are doing the right thing at the right time for our business – even if that’s different than what everyone else is doing. Getting to this unwavering sense of self-trust takes what I refer to as discernment.
In my last post (after relaying how clients and colleagues really feel about the onslaught of ‘how tos’ and ‘you musts’ that confront them from their inboxes and social media feeds), I defined discernment as the internal process that allows us to make decisions that feel right and true for our business.
Why discernment is critical in our business
Discernment is “the ability to judge well; the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is not easy to see”. It comes from the Latin words ‘dis’ (apart) and ‘cernere’ (to separate).
In practical terms, discernment is that well-honed wisdom that allows us to read between the lines to see what’s really being said; it’s the ability to cut through the clutter to see what is right and true for us in each decision we’re facing; it’s knowing if something (or someone) is not a good fit for us; it’s having an elevated sense of what is B.S. and what is genuine. Discernment can feel complex because it requires both head and heart, intuition and intellect, concrete data and nuanced instinct.
As we become more discerning in our business…
We become better able to protect ourselves from false or misleading information, and from those who do not hold our best interests at heart.
We come to understand distractions, why they entice us, and how to turn away from them to refocus our time, attention, energy and learning on what we know matters to us.
We learn to resist being influenced or pulled out of alignment by outside forces.
We get better at navigating through conflict and difficult conversations because we look at the whole picture. We apply a more compassionate lens through which to observe, listen and respond, which allows us to communicate effectively rather than defensively.
A Model to Help you Become More Discerning
In my work with women entrepreneurs, I approach the practice of discernment through a holistic lens. I ask questions and share insights that invite my clients to explore decision-making from three specific dimensions. Exploring each dimension helps to expand their thinking by gathering more robust information and context for the current choice they’re facing.
This approach is meant to be exploratory which means that you can move back and forth between each dimension until you have properly evaluated what is right for you in that moment.
The next time you face overwhelm, confusion or self-doubt in your business take a few minutes to pause, observe, and ask yourself the following questions from each of these dimensions:
Our thoughts are driven by conscious and unconscious emotional patterns, so when we invest time and energy into understanding what our aspirations, motivations, triggers, biases, patterns etc. are, then we become more attuned to our own needs/choices/behaviours and decisions. To access the answers to ‘heart’ questions we need to slow down, remove distractions, and listen inwardly to our own longings and instincts.
What am I feeling?
What do I want?
What’s important to me?
To properly evaluate a situation we must also gather facts by asking questions that demand logic, concrete data, and knowledge. If we only focus on how we feel, ignoring facts and past experiences that add context to the situation, we may miss valuable information that will help us in our evaluation. What we know is equally important to how we feel. To access the answers to ‘head’ questions we need to look externally – observing, studying, and researching the situation, person, or topic through an objective or critical lens.
What are the facts?
What information is missing?
What evidence do I need?
The ‘higher view’ is the process of ‘putting-it-all-together’. This is the bridge where we analyze the information we’ve gleaned from head and heart. The higher view allows us to see the bigger picture of what is unfolding and what needs to happen. To access the answers from this ‘higher view’ we must widen our perspective to include as much understanding, context, proof, past experience, intuition and inner wisdom as possible.
What choices are available to me?
What is becoming clearer?
What meaning do I give this?
What conclusions am I drawing?
The Decision Continuum
The decisions we make in business are not typically binary: right/wrong or good/bad. Rather, they fall along a continuum of alignment. When we access the power of discernment, we are better able to make decisions that align with our best self, core values, and highest good. Each decision we make in our business teaches us something useful. Over time, there’s a cumulative effect that increases our ability for discernment.
Invoking your power to discern
Pause, listen to both your head and your heart, and evaluate your options from a higher view. Discernment is a practice. Over time, your trust and confidence in your decisions will grow, and you’ll get better at making choices that feel right for you and your business.
The more we trust our own judgement, the more sovereignty we will feel in our business and the easier – and more natural – it becomes to tune out, dial down and ignore the bombardment of marketing shoulds we receive everyday.
Looking for a Thought Partner to help you sort through your next important decisions and move forward from a place of discernment? I’d be honoured to help. More info here.