People of all ages seem to love anything that comes in a box. The excitement of an Amazon box waiting for you on the porch. A gift box wrapped in great looking paper with a surprise inside just for you! Most toddlers prefer playing with the box instead of whatever comes inside. And the food and monthly subscription boxes are a billion-dollar industry. So, do all good things fit into a box?
Think about a time you were talking to another business person. Four seconds in they say, “tell me about what you do?”
The moment you start talking about what you do, they are thinking of that box. They are imagining this box next to you, and they want to put you in it. Anything else doesn’t work for them.
Except you don’t fit in that box and that’s okay. Trust me, I know.
I am an insurance broker and have been for years. I help wealth managers and other insurance-related businesses do insurance planning for their clients. A nice box, for those who understand it.
And then I started creating content. I didn’t talk about it a lot, but it was out there, on the web and eventually in social media networks. And that didn’t fit in the box. When I told people about the content-creation part of my business, my words didn’t get through. An insurance broker doing content marketing? It didn’t compute.
And then came a person who got it. This person didn’t need a box, or maybe they could put my various projects and ideas in separate boxes without having to box me up. And that’s when I realized I’d been putting myself in a box all along.
Let me explain.
I always tried to put myself in the box—I thought it would make me and my work easier for others to understand, make me easier to work with. I figured that would be good for me, for my career, and for everyone I wanted to help. And frankly, I thought inside a box was where I was supposed to be. I mean, running an insurance business and a marketing business? At the same time? Was that even allowed?
But I didn’t fit in that box no matter how hard I tried. My individual ideas did, so that’s where I put the ideas. For example, insurance brokerage fits here. A content marketing company for small business fits there. A podcast for entrepreneurs fits in this box over here. But then when you start stacking the boxes, confusion sets in. How can you do more than one of these things? What does this box have to do with that box?
So when I met someone who got it….
I realized that the work I do isn’t for the people who need the boxes—and that means I didn’t need my box, either.
So I broke the box.
I did so around four years ago and I am getting better and better at understanding why the box isn’t needed.
See, the work I do is for the people who don’t need to put me in a box to understand my work—because they’re willing to learn enough to understand it for real. They’re intrigued, motivated, or inspired by what I do, so they want to ask questions. They want to hear what I have to say. Those others? They’re not really interested in the first place.
A funny thing happens when you stop putting yourself in a box—you become able to understand other people without boxes, too. All this time, I thought I was wishing other people would stop boxing me in, and I was really the one boxing up myself. And I was boxing up other people, too. I couldn’t help it. I thought that’s how things were supposed to be.
Now? I don’t need to do that anymore. I can be the person who wants to understand people for real, the one who asks questions, the one who hears what others have to say.
And that’s how I can finally help the people I want to help.
Are you ready to break your box? We can help.