This is a simple question that I’ve asked more times than I can count of clients to help them clarify their point of view on an issue: “What are your favourite books and authors?”
Now, when I ask this question, I’m not asking generically. I’m asking it in the context of the work they do. I’m asking them, “Look, you help _____ kinds of people get ______ kinds of results. Who are the authors, what are the books you’ve read, that have most formed your opinions around this all? What are the books that you wish your clients would read because they best express your take on things?”
What I’m trying to get at with this question is a more clear understanding of how they see things.
I’ve had so many clients tell me that their ideal clients would be ‘spiritual’. And I have no idea what they mean by that. I could ask them to tell me their entire cosmology but that’s often a convoluted and nebulous affair. So, instead, I ask them,
“What are your favourite books or authors on this spirituality?”
And you can tell a lot about how a person sees and defines spirituality by their answers:
- “The Celestine Prophecy, Conversations With God and The Four Agreements.”
- “Loving What Is, Feeding Your Demons and Debbie Ford.”
- “The Course in Miracles, Marianne Williamson and The Disappearance of the Universe.”
- “Doreen Virtue and Louise Hay.”
- “Iyanla Van Zandt, Oprah Winfrey and Rev. Michael Beckwith.”
- “The Secret, Greg Braden and Deepak Chopra”
- “Black Elk Speaks, Vine Deloria and Leanne Simpson.”
- “The Bible, Thomas Merton and Jim Rohr.”
- “The Tao the Ching.”
- “Rudolph Steiner, White Eagle and books on Theosophy.”
Each of these compilations gives us a very different picture of what they mean by ‘spirituality’.
My colleague Kel Wil of Showgirl Awakening gives a wonderful example of this on her homepage when she says:
I have a special place in my heart for women who yearn to trust & express themselves with confidence & radiance, who light up whenever they see the intersection of art, psyche and spirit, are drawn to Hafiz & mystic poetry, into typing systems & self-knowledge systems like Enneagram, Archetypes, Astrology, Oracles & Tarot and whose attention is rapt when they read or listen to Ane Axford, Angeles Arrien, Caroline Casey, Sarah Peyton, Cynthia Winton-Henry, Phil Porter, Hafiz, Khalil Gibran, Carl Buchheit, Andrew Harvey and Francois Delsarte and who have well-worn copy of Women Who Run With the Wolves.
What can you do with this list?:
- Put Them In Your Homepage or Bio: This list of influences (and, of course, we could ask the same question and have it be about documentaries, websites, blogs, podcasts etc.) could be shared on the About Me page of your website to help people get a sense of where you’re coming from (this is surprisingly effective at helping people figure out if you’re a fit or not). This gives people a sort of mosaic, at-a-glance view of your perspective. They can connect the dots. And, if they’re also into those particular influences, they will be leaning towards working with you.
- Use Them To Find Hubs: You could also look at each and ask yourself, “Where might I find people who share my interests in these kinds of books?” This could reveal some hubs you’d not thought of before. Perhaps there are book clubs, MeetUp groups, or bookstores that focus on those particular themes.
- Reach out to them directly: You might be surprised at how accessible certain influencers are. You might be able to foster a relationship with them. Perhaps you could interview them or they might interview you.
- Use This List to Hone Your Point of View: Sit with this list and ask yourself, “What’s the perspective that these all share? What are the points of overlap? How do all of these authors see _____ issue that I agree with?”