Start the year with your head held high

Dec 15, 2017 | General | 6 comments

I felt a little stung this week. Someone told me they didn’t particularly like what I wrote (not for a client, I hasten to add). They just didn’t like what I was offering and the way I wrote. It wasn’t for them.

Now, I say *all the time* to my clients that they won’t be for everyone, that the way to connect with people is to take a stand for who you are, what you believe in and how you do things, rather than aim for beige.

That whether you’re a writer, a plumber, a therapist, a coach or an accountant, there are thousands of others doing the same thing, so they only way to stand out is to be who you are in full colour. And not be ashamed of that.

So I know the theory. I preach the theory.

Do I live by it? Not as much as I’d like to think. When I heard I wasn’t right for someone this week, rather than realise it means I’m succeeding in my mission to be non-beige, something shrivelled inside. I was wounded.

I realise this sounds a bit wussy, but it’s honest, and being honest is important to me.

Anyway, thanks to supportive friends, some well-rehearsed mindfulness principles and lovely feedback from my clients, I no longer equate ‘you’re not the person for me’ with ‘you’re rubbish at what you do’.  Not after the initial shrivel.

When I’m feeling low I turn to writing, I write it all out. And this time, when I wrote, I saw that of course I wasn’t for them. I was never meant to be. But I am for others. I am able to tune-in to people, to get them, to help them see themselves in glorious technicolour so they can get out there and help the people they’re meant to help. Share the words that work for them. That’s how it works – for some people it’s extraordinary, for others it’s a non-starter.

And that’s how it should be. If you’re not provoking an emotional response in your writing you’re not doing your job. I’m grateful for that feedback now: I’m grateful for the honesty and I’m grateful for the insight it gave me.

So this is a reminder to stay away from the beige, even when that feels uncomfortable. Even when some people say no or don’t get it.

Work out what you stand for, what your colour palette is, and be true to that. And it might change, too. That’s ok. But keep checking in with yourself:

  • is this honest or am I wearing a mask?
  • am I working with my strengths here?
  • is this helping my ideal client move forward?

If your colours are all scrambled up into some blurry mess, and you’d like some help getting clear on who you’re for, what you’re about and how you can share what you do, let’s talk. I have some slots in the new year for full and half day intensives, as well as an exciting manifesto creation workshop [details coming SOON!].

Start 2018 with your head held high.




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Gayle Johnson

Gayle Johnson


Gayle is a freelance content writer, writing mentor and facilitator. She is the creator of ‘Wordspill’ and loves helping people use words to connect with themselves and others. Find out how you can work with Gayle and her services


  1. Paula Goude

    Taking criticism is hard. But it sounds like you’ve dealt with it well – and come out stronger on the other side. Good on you.

    • Gayle

      Thanks Paula! And when I unpicked it, it wasn’t even criticism. Just a mismatch. Still, the urge to be liked by everyone is strong!

  2. Kellie

    I love this message – I’m going to keep the 3 questions you suggest somewhere handy for regular check ins. Thanks Gayle!

    • Gayle

      Thanks Kellie!

  3. Nicola O'Keeffe

    As a baker I was once told my cakes were all brown with no colour , but as an advocate of using little or no colourings or preservatives I told said person that my cakes would be brown but in various shades of brown and cream and actually the taste was far more important to me than Joseph’s coat of many colours ! So yes I agree wholeheartedly about mismatches and misconceptions

    • Gayle

      Absolutely Nicola! Knowing what you stand for gives you such power. And I’d rather have a superb-tasting brown cake than a chemically rainbow cake any day!


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