Gun violence. Political scandals. Racism. Gender equality. With more hot button issues coming to the forefront every day, the question of how and when to vocalize my opinion has really been on my mind.
And it’s been on my clients’ minds as well. In fact, I recently published a blog for actors about this very topic.
As a coach, you have a platform to make a big impact on the world. You have a public forum of eager supporters to shine the spotlight on social, political or human rights issues that are meaningful to you. You also have a commitment to your tribe to provide services as a trusted expert and professional. And sometimes striking the balance between being authentic and alienating your audience is a bit of a grey area.
That’s because there is no hard and fast rule.
Every coach is different with a unique set of values and personal experiences.
What I will say, though, is that if you feel called to take a position and it comes from the heart, give yourself permission to do so. Just be mindful that posting on the Internet (in the age of the screenshot) is like etching something in stone. So it better be a position you can stand behind in the long-term.
That doesn’t mean you should be terrified to the point of self-censorship, but you do need to have the awareness that people are paying attention. And there are trolls on social media with the intent to simply antagonize. So a good rule of thumb is to try to come from a place of adding your voice to the conversation in a thoughtful way and not real-time pure emotional reaction.
On the flipside, it’s equally acceptable to keep your opinion private when it comes to hot button topics. If that’s a conscious choice, there’s no shame in that game either.
I am someone who has a lot of opinions (my mom will back me up on that!), but I know myself well enough to know that most of those opinions are not related to the work that I aim to do through my businesses. My job is to empower, inform and educate my clients. I definitely have days when I question whether I’m taking the too-safe route by not being more vocal on every issue that matters to me. But when I have an honest conversation with myself, I’m reminded that it’s okay to have a strong opinion and it doesn’t need to exist on social media to be valid.
For me, I really check in with my heart. There are certain issues that I will speak openly about on social media, such as LGBT rights, which I feel relate very personally to a large part of my tribe. But when I do open up, I always try my best to come from a position of being for something rather than against something.
I want to help the positive outshine the dark.
So as much as I would love to retweet some of the crazy stuff I’m seeing about certain political candidates, I choose to share articles and messages in support of other candidates. Or spread the word about people in my community making a difference for the better.
Here’s an example of a greeting that recently went out in my weekly newsletter for actors.
After a very chaotic and saddening week, I just want to take a moment to express my gratitude to you today. As an actor, you have the talent, training and capability to change the world through the stories you tell. The world needs you, and I am happy to know you’re in it.
Please send some love out to our country so we may learn from last week’s tragedies, come together, and heal the racism, hate, and violence that all too often blinds us.
Lots of love,
Your preference may instead be to post inspirational quotes on Instagram or share a powerful meditation with your tribe on Facebook. We’re talking about layered and complicated issues, so there is no one rule to apply to every situation that happens in the world.
As long as your message is true to you and something you can stand behind, there’s nothing wrong with that.
In regards to alienating your tribe, here’s the bottom line: if it’s something that you really believe in passionately, you will alienate some people. It’s inevitable, but fact check – those people are not your people anyway.
For example, a fellow coach was very upset at the passing of Prince and he focused a lot of attention on the situation via social media, to the point where I’m guessing he did alienate some followers. Did he damage his brand by being so outspoken? My position would be no. He clarified his brand and helped his tribe get a better understanding of how they feel about him as a coach and person.
Here’s a little formula to help you check in with yourself before posting online.
1) Am I being authentically me? Are these opinions my own and not what I think I should say and feel?
2) Is this meaningful enough to me that I can stand by my opinion 6 weeks, 6 months, 6 years from now?
3) Is this action supportive of the brand experience I try to create and my mission as a coach?
With this template, take some time to dig deep and discover how you can contribute your opinion to important issues while still maintaining your mission as a coach. It’s about finding your own boundaries and standing firmly in them no matter what they are.
How do you navigate hot button topics with your tribe? I would love to hear what’s worked best for you in the comments below.