For as long as I have pursued my gift of writing, I have been at constant war with a measurable angst in the deepest of my passion. It has been this talk about platform recently that has helped me to understand what my trouble was.
I had been trying to build my platform to fight my own demons, rather than simply building a brand. In doing so, I trapped myself in that platform and lost the essence of all I was.
Let me explain:
My time and my culture convinced me that I could never be what I’m passioned to be, that I could never be a voice in my world. Who am I, the world seemed to be asking, that anyone should listen to me? Once they found that beneath gifted words, I was nothing special, they would scoff at my every word.
So I began “building my platform” by painstakingly poring over every thought that passed through my head. How could I make it beautiful? How could I make it powerful? How could I make it poignant enough that I could be that writer that people started quoting in the halls, whether they could remember where they’d heard the quip or not? That, to me, was the definition of success: to be oft-quoted. To be watched and followed and friended for those little lines that, I hoped, spoke to my credibility.
I became so focused on proving myself as someone to be listened to, as a brilliant writer and a beautiful wordsmith, that I was terrified of saying anything normal. I cringed at the thought of using social media to say anything so mundane as, “Beautiful rain today” or “Watched a fantastic movie last night.” People became accustomed to me living in the philosophical, and I felt myself fading away into the shadows. My “platform” was costing me my humanity.
My writing suffered. My life suffered. Somewhere in the depths of the remnants of my past, I was there, craving a dance with my passion.
There had to be a balance between my platform and my life.
I determined to take my life back, to build my platform but to regain that ability to live outside of it. There was a beauty in the simplicity of simply living that suffocated under my platform, and when I let that break through and sink into my being, my passion lit up.
Since freeing myself to live a human existence and not just my platform, I find that people are more interested in what I have to say because they finally see some authenticity behind my words. Readers respond when they see your humanity beneath your platform, when you connect with them person-to-person.
Here are four tips to help you live authentically beside your platform, rather than under it - practice that will enhance your life, your gift, and yes, even your platform.
1. Read – inside your discipline. A worship minister friend once told me he savored the days when he wasn’t leading worship because they gave him the opportunity to be ministered to rather than doing the ministry. Reading others who share your passion does not threaten your gift; it feeds you.
2. Spend time outdoors. The trees, the sun, and the sky don’t care a lick about your platform. There is no pressure to perform. You don’t have to be the guru. You can simply be a part of a beautiful creation. Dance if you want.
3. Always carry a journal. When a thought hits me that I want to remember, I need to write it down. Otherwise, I’m going to let it run obsessively through my mind until I find a place to do something with it. That way, I won’t forget. But in that time between having the thought and doing something with it, I miss out on everything happening right in front of me. If I can write that thought down right away, it’s somewhere I know to go back to it, and I can live authentically and fully in the present moment.
4. Be Yourself, Not Your Platform. There are some anomalies in all of us, things we enjoy doing but can’t explain why. Things that people might raise an eyebrow at. Do them anyway. Don’t lock yourself into appearances at the cost of something that brings you joy. Authenticity is credibility, and those who follow you will appreciate your realness.
How do you keep balance between your platform and your life?