Livelihood of the Heart

Livelihood of the Heart

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I have a great appreciation for holistic practitioners and creative service providers. Many have been my peers during the past 25+ years: massage therapists, Feldenkrais practitioners and other movement educators, choreographers, performing artists, wellness and health coaches, energy workers, acupuncturists, art, dance and music therapists, naturopaths, and spiritual and life coaches.

Many have chosen to serve others as a livelihood-of-the-heart, and they are a dominant force for good in the world.

AN EXPANSIVE VISION for holistic, alternative, complementary,
integrative and creative practitioners

Although it isn’t widely acknowledged, the members of our worldwide community of practitioners and artists are often the ones people turn to for support in forging a healthier, more satisfying lifestyle. We are often the go-to resources for people wanting to learn about holistic, alternative, complementary or integrative approaches to health and wellness, self-awareness, self-image, creativity, and self-actualization.

Privy to the inner lives of others, in many cases, we’re the only ones with whom clients share their most intimate secrets, frustrations, pain, and aspirations. More often than many people would suspect, clients arrive on our doorsteps after visiting many doctors, specialists, or other experts — having come away without the help they needed. Surprisingly, in many cases, the needed help arrives in the form of hands-on bodywork, a Feldenkrais session, an African Dance class, a coaching session, or a week-long self-empowerment retreat.

I know this from personal experience, both as a professional provider and
as a recipient. I’ve spent countless hours in the company of creative artists and holistic practitioners and entrepreneurs who light up the world with their ideas, compassion, genius, intuition, and innovation.

Ours Is Not the Domain of Business and Greed

Many of us experience a disconnect when we try to reconcile our love of and commitment to people with the need to engage in marketing, which some of us see as the domain of business and greed.

Is there something holding our community back from reaching its full
potential, both individually and collectively?

I think so. Holistic healing artists and creative service providers are already making a positive impact in the world. Our clients are fully aware of the depth and range of our abilities.

Collectively, we have a massive loyal following.

                                          Photo by Jay Dantinne, from Unsplash

However, the society at large is not aware of us; we’re not on their radar. One symptom of this is that many of our businesses don’t fully prosper. All too often, we don’t have a steady supply of clients, and so we don’t feel relaxed about money and financial stability.

In the years I’ve been actively studying marketing, especially with online coaches, I’ve participated in nearly 50 teleconferences attended by small business aspirants from around the world. Many of the attendees have been holistic healers or creative artists. Repeatedly, I have heard them ask, in so many words, “I need more clients; I don’t know what to do! Can you help?”

For many of us, marketing doesn’t come naturally.

To some, the whole idea of marketing and sales is distasteful.They see it as something that’s either manipulative, crass or inappropriate for someone with a sensitive character or higher spiritual aspirations. Similarly, they will gladly admit they can’t stand the idea of selling.

Here lies the dilemma. No one can have a sustainable enterprise without eventually selling something to someone. As holistic practitioners or creative entrepreneurs, we’re trying to make a living at what we love, we’re in the marketplace even if you don’t fully understand what that means and are not quite ready to embrace the idea.

After all, what’s the use of having outstanding skills, world-class training, highly developed sensitivity, intuition and perceptive abilities and a vast knowledge base if no one knows you’re there or how you could help them?

Maybe it’s time to ask… What is Marketing?

When it comes right down to it, marketing could be described very simply as a well-conceived and highly organized way of notifying the world about what you have to offer and how you can solve their problems.

In his best-selling book “TRIBES,” Seth Godin gives a brief definition:

“Marketing is the act of telling stories about the things we make —
stories that sell…stories that spread… It is about engaging the tribe.”

The most important message I want to share here is this: The best marketing is not coercive in any way. When our work is an expression of a heartfelt mission, the right kind of marketing will be holistic in itself! Not only is marketing a necessity, but it’s also something worthy of learning about and embracing as part of your work in the world.

More specifically, it’s a way of telling stories to the people you want to serve, notifying them about how you can help solve their problems and alleviate their pain, whether it’s physical, emotional, familial, creative or financial. This process is part of your calling. It’s not a separate thing.

I refer to this approach as Holistic Marketing.

Holism is the idea that systems (physical, biological, chemical, social, economic, mental, linguistic) are integrated wholes, not just as a collection of parts. (Thanks Wikipedia!)

Holistic principles apply in many fields: education, somatic studies, medicine, religion, anthropology, environmental studies, nursing, and more. The essence of holism is that something occurring in one part of a system
will affect other parts. I use the word “holistic” in this context because I advocate that when you are making marketing decisions and developing strategies, it’s a good idea to take into account several inter-dependent factors:

• The kind of work that’s deeply important to you
• Your prosperity mindset
• Your currently available resources (a new way of looking at your assets)
• Your understanding of the clients you want to attract and serve, and the
problems you can help solve on their behalf
• The inspiration and results you plan to provide your clientele
• The relationship between your marketing strategies and financial goals
• How your marketing activities can give something your clients will find valuable, even before they buy from you
• Your ways of locating, interviewing, staying in touch with, and retaining clients
• The alignment of marketing strategies with your values, ethical standards,
strengths, interests and financial goals
• The impact your marketing efforts can have on the belief you have in yourself and your engagement in the community.

All of this is interconnected. If you don’t have a clear Vision, your message won’t be clear either. If you’re still telling yourself old undermining stories about yourself, no website or social media campaign will get you what you want. If you aren’t operating within your ethical guidelines, you can’t possibly speak authentically and persuasively about your work. If you aren’t making enough money, your self-confidence will suffer. If you don’t feel connected to your community, you’ll feel a disconnect when promoting your services.

It is possible to attract clients the same way you heal clients, holistically.
Traditional marketing, much like Western medicine, is often invasive. Too often that sort of marketing is ruthless, manipulative and neglectful of the needs of everyone except the seller. On the other hand, holistic marketing, like holistic healing, is noninvasive and mindful of all interconnected factors, including the mindset, vision, and mission of the practitioner. As a practitioner, holistic marketing is designed to increase your prosperity without compromising your values and to provide meaningful, trustworthy connections between you and the people who are desperately trying to find you.

Holistic marketing leads to a win-win professional lifestyle where both the buyer and the seller get what they were looking for, and the process of getting there is educational, enjoyable and uplifting.

As a mission-driven service provider, you can feel comfortable taking the path of holistic marketing. It’s designed to balance the needs of prospective clients and your professional desires. By practicing this approach, you’ll begin to recognize how your marketing itself provides a service to others, within an ethical framework that feels valuable to all concerned. Because of the win-win situations you’ve created, you’ll be able to take care of your marketing duties without dread, embarrassment or apology. With a holistic foundation for your marketing efforts, you can do good things for your pocketbook. You can move in the direction of your larger mission. And you can remain true to your values. You will increase the amount of good you do in the world.

After all, what’s the use of having outstanding skills, world-class training, highly developed sensitivity, intuition and perceptive abilities and a vast knowledge base if no one knows you’re there or how you could help them?

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