The trouble with mentors and the problem with bullet points. - Kristen Kalp

The trouble with mentors and the problem with bullet points.

Today, an uncomfortable topic. Mentors, and when their voices in your head kinda sorta totally take over and hijack your ways of being in the world, and then the awkward fight to get the voices in your head to be your own again. Eeeeesh.

There are mentors I’ve paid to engage with, mentors I’ve only viewed from a distance via internet-y means, and brilliant peers I’ve spent a great deal of time in the company of, and all of them are reflected in what follows.

This isn’t an indictment of any one individual or group of individuals. I’ve been just as influenced by a number of online gurus whom I’ve never met as I have been by some individuals I’ve spent a shit-ton of time with, and I’m guessing that you’re the same way. Only we as individuals can know the measure of our influencers — and most people wouldn’t suspect the vast array of them.

Now. The trouble with mentors.

I’ve spent many, many thousands of dollars learning to communicate more clearly in business. I’ve learned to write sales pages and otherwise do the work of getting people to buy stuff, over and over: for virtual products, for real-life physical products and events, for others as a ghostwriter, and for myself as well.

It’s true, money loves clarity. The more clearly you can articulate what it is you can do for people, the more money you’re likely to make in business.

But sometimes simple clarity isn’t the answer. (Or it’s the part of the answer that gets wildly twisted in the name of sales.)

Sometimes there are no bullet points and no testimonials for the unique, wildly diverse, and ultimately meaningful experience you have when you work with me, or with people like me: people committed to helping you follow the thin strands of your deepest truths all the way to their seemingly terrifying ends.

Sometimes all I can promise is that we’ll show up and see what happens. That I’ll be kind and empathetic when things fall apart.  That I’ll remind you of who you are when  you forget.

Sometimes my promises are vague because I’m more interested in going exploring than in telling you what to do or how to do it or how all this will ultimately lead to six-figure sales.

I’m here to help you listen to yourself, which means I don’t know the answers until you do. (A multi-billion dollar business, this is not.)

Deep, intense, and personal work doesn’t lend itself to “you will learn” bullet points that can be summed up in 12 distinct lines, complete with video and segment-by-segment modules or learning pods or whatever they’re being called these days.

Because when I’m at my best, I’m not selling; I’m listening.

Listening is the hallmark of any good mentor, teacher, guru, coach, friend, or human. It’s also the first thing to go when we decide we know what people want, when they want it, and whether or not we can deliver it.

It’s my job to be led by my years of educational training (hello, Education degree), my teacher’s instincts (hello, years of classroom experience), my intuition (hello, priestess training I took that one year), and my knowledge of the individual I’m talking to in order to deliver exactly what has to be said to help in real time.

It’s my job to steer the ship toward doing the work. For every person in the group, even when those people are hiding or don’t want to show up or come to me somewhat battered and a little bit broken.

What happens during the entire 69-day process can only be diminished by being beaten into submission in the form of bullet points and done-for-you steps and easily-comprehended, boiled-down-to-basics type presentations.

But lately.

The bigger and deeper work I’m being called to requires greater attention. It requires picking up the energetic thread of each human who’s giving me the gift of his or her presence in class and then listening closely.

She is writing a book about her years as a stripper and is terrified to be seen. Ask her to share.
She is writing about her experiences and is are too grief-stricken to do much more than cry. Give her space and love.
She is trying not to deny her joy and her fun and her laughter any longer. Let her be. And ask for photos when she misses class.

I’ve got to listen, to take in the full extent of what’s going on, and to respond accordingly.

That means my bullet-pointed ‘marketing speak’ looks a lot like:

I’ll help you listen to yourself and your feels. You might feel the whole world of emotions swallow you up, show you new insights, and put you gently back down to begin living all over again, with new eyes. (And then again, you might not.)

I’ll work with you one-on-one to help make a list of achievable, totally realistic yet challenging goals, then make sure you achieve them.

If you need the heavy-handed argument, the endless convincing, the 8-part video series, or the arm twisting to join, I’d rather not work with you right now.

Not because I don’t see value in working with you, but because I’m not willing to use the endless and relentless, ever-so-slightly manipulative tactics it’s taken me a number of years to unlearn.

I’m not willing to use all the marketing weapons in my arsenal to get you to buy shit I know you don’t need or to convince you to get on board with an experience you don’t really want. I’m not willing to make you feel guilty for not buying what I’ve got to offer.

I’m really, really not interested in selling you on something that you aren’t jumping up and down to get.

Maybe it’s just me.
Maybe I suck at selling or marketing or whatever it is we’re calling the long-form sales page these days.
Maybe I’m evolving.
Maybe I’m tired.

But dammit, I am not willing to be a glossy, perfection-porned-out creature selling you a lifestyle you feel like you SHOULD want but really don’t.

If you don’t want one-on-one help, cool. Then you don’t want anything I’ve got for sale right now.

I am, strangely, okay with that.

::deep breath::

Here’s a bullet-pointed list (ha! Please tell me you get the joke!) of all the things I’ve had to figure out, slowly and painfully, in order to be okay with sharing these offerings and this particular piece of writing:

+ how to sell WITHOUT ANY MOTHERFLIPPING VIDEO, even though it converts better and blah blah blah yah no.
+ how to tell you what I’m offering without hiding behind why you “need” it or the 7,423 results you’ll get from buying (More money!  Better clients!  Increased usage of the hashtag #blessed!)
+ how to write clearly without exaggerating the effects of what my offerings can do to your life (i.e. “I found my purpose and made an additional $40,000 and love my life more!” because even if that was true for one person, it won’t be true for everyone who comes along)
+ how to hold space for people without calling myself pretentious for calling it ‘holding space’ — because it IS a physical act, and I’m damn good at it. I will hold the shit out of you.
+ how to stop pretending I don’t care if you buy — because I do — but not enough to force your hand (BUY NOW OHMIGOD PLEASE THE KITTENS ARE DYING IF YOU DON’T HIT THE BUTTON RIGHT NOW — ALSO THERE’S ONLY ONE LEFT EVEN THOUGH THIS IS A VIRTUAL PRODUCT)
+ how to evolve in my business, and as a human, without feeling guilty for making it up as I go along. Because hey, we’re all making it up as we go along. Some just make it more obvious than others.

With deep love and appreciation for everyone who’s ever helped me to grow in business, and in life — I welcome the next phase. With 90% fewer bullet points, with so much love, and with an open heart for holding close whatever comes.

Thank you for teaching me in the best way you knew how.

I’ll take over from here.

Hugs,
K

P.S. I sent this to my best friend to ask if it felt bitter or gross and she replied, “Doesn’t feel bitter or heavy. Feels like, ‘I’m tired of trying to sell you shit and please just listen to your heart about whether or not to buy this thing. If you need bullet points and certainty and aren’t ok with us just figuring out what you need together, then we’re not a good fit.'”

Yes. That. Exactly. It’s all open-ended magic.