I am pacing my kitchen, pausing occasionally at my laptop to capture stray bits of wisdom as they issue through my headphones from my client's mouth.
This particular client has identified an opportunity; a gap in the marketplace for the kind of online experience she wants and would pay to have. I've just asked her to tell me what's different now, as a result of all the things that happened to bring her here today.
She ventures a response; I press for more. Now she hesitates, and says:
"I'm finding it difficult to make a decisive statement, because it's not real yet. At this point, it's still just an idea."
Ah -- ding ding!
Let's all take a moment to let these words sink in.
My client has just given voice to a very real, uncertainty-based fear that anyone who ever decides to build something NEW must, at one time or another, confront:
When sharing your idea, how do you communicate its "realness" enough to get others engaged; when internally, you know that it's still "just an idea"?
This can be a source of huge confusion for the entrepreneur or innovator who cares about honesty and integrity -- especially when the "something" you're building is, by its very nature, intangible (in the sense that it can't be touched or held in your hand) -- like an online platform, or a freelance service-based business, for example.
You don't want to lie, and you certainly don't want to overstate the case and then have people ask around or go to the website and see... nothing there.
And yet, it's vital to show people how inevitable it is that your idea is on track to become reality.
Fortunately, this is where story comes in.
Before you have something real, all you have is a story -- one that people will either believe in or not -- about WHY the thing should and must exist, so much so that, in a sense, it already DOES.
Your story is the bridge between ideas and reality. If you can get enough people to believe your story, suddenly you've unlocked the support and resources you need to make your idea... manifest.
And if you want others to believe in your story, you have to believe in it first. You have to be willing to take a stand somewhere within it; to give voice to your convictions and see if they resonate.
And this, of course, requires that you have some conviction to begin with.
I ask my client: "Whose responsibility is it, to believe that your idea will become real?"
There is a thoughtful pause. "Mine," she says.
"Whose responsibility is it to give your audience something they can believe in?"
"Mine," she says.
"Do you believe in what you're creating?"
"Are you truly committed, or is it possible you'll abandon it when it gets hard?"
"No," she says. "I really feel like this is what I'm meant to do."
... Ding ding ding!
THIS is the kind of conviction your audience needs to feel if you want their assistance in believing your idea into being.
In the case of my client, a true and declarative statement might sound something like: "Ever since then, I am building it myself."
But honestly, the precise words that she uses? The verbal story you tell?
... are not nearly as important as the energy you bring to it.
Words, although fun to play with and super satisfying when you get them right, are really just a vehicle to allow your energy, your certainty, your conviction to shine through.
It is no one else's job to believe in what you're doing. It's no one else's responsibility to see how real and impactful your ideas could be.
YOU are the one who must believe it into being. You are the one who must embody that belief and commitment, show it to others, and make them feel inspired and safe enough to risk following you into the dark.
No matter what you're creating, or what story you're telling:
Conviction is the basic building block that no one else can give you.
And if you don't have it? ... It may be time to move on to something else.