During a recent sermon, my mentor shared the following insight:
“Most of what we do has no witness. But it is the sum of our witnesses that creates the picture of who we are.”
That’s when it occurred to me:
Without a witness, your life goes unnoticed.
Without a witness, your life is a series of small incidents.
Without a witness, your life gets redefined as something untrue.
Without a witness, your life lacks affirmation and understanding.
Who are your witnesses? Whom are you witnessing?
Today we’re going to explore a few ideas about the power of witness:
1. Hang better mirrors. Success never comes unassisted. And life’s too short to surround yourself with people who don’t challenge and inspire you. But if you never open yourself to be reflected by those people, you may as well be winking in the dark.
Your mission is to find at least one person who will regularly sit you down, look you in the eye and say, “Oh my god, that is freaking brilliant.”
This form of affirmation is like oxygen to your soul. And it’s the validation that will keep you going during hard times. Personally, I’ve been fortunate to have many amazing witnesses in my life. And as a result, I’m not successful because people said I would never make it – I’m successful because people told me I would make it, and I proved them right.
That’s what happens when you surround yourself with the right mirrors: They show us something we can’t see for ourselves, and then we change forever. If you killed someone tomorrow, who is the one person in your life that you could tell – that would still respond positively?
2. Learn how to receive. Giving is easy because you know what to expect. Receiving, on the other hand, is hard. It means you’re out of control. It means you’re vulnerable. And it means you’re letting go and letting people help you.
But if you truly want to be witnessed, you have to be willing to see your own brilliance when people reflect back it to you. Otherwise you insult them by deflecting what they’re trying to show you.
The secret is saying thank you without justification. Extending gratitude without defending yourself. Next time someone pays you a compliment, try just saying two words: Thank you. It’s harder than you think. In fact, this practice takes so much patience, self-control and self-confidence, that most people wouldn’t dare try it.
But the good news is, those receive well earn the right to be witnessed over and over again. When was the last time you held out your hand?
3. Be sensitive to people’s visibility needs. In the movie Shall We Dance, Susan Sarandon says it best:
“When you witness, you’re promising to care about everything: The good things, the bad things, the terrible things and the mundane things – all of it, all the time, every day. You’re saying to people that their life will not go unnoticed because you will notice it. Their life will not go unwitnessed because you will be their witness.”
Who in your life right now feels invisible? Who needs to feel seen?
Be more promiscuous in your love with them. Respond with sensitivity in a time of tragedy. And give them the gift of visibility. Otherwise the utter exhaustion of feeling invisible might become too much for them to bear. How many people did you go out of your way to ignore last week?
4. Mirrors don’t hide the truth. The word “witness” simply means, “to testify.” Which means the easiest way to become indispensible to people’s lives is to sit in the audience of their experience, then accurately tell the world what you saw.
That’s how you acknowledge people, honor people, edify people and celebrate people: By being a stand for their greatness. What’s more, witnessing is the lifeblood longevity. Nobody in their right mind would walk away from a mirror that made them feel more beautiful.
Your task is to be that mirror in people’s lives. To be that perpetual reflection they can’t function without. Focus on that and they’ll keep you around – even during the hard times. When people look at you, what image do you reflect back to them?
5. Make people’s experience immediately available to them. Lately, a lot of my speeches are being tweeted by audience members throughout the entire duration of the presentation.
For marketing purposes, this rocks. Because people see people seeing value in my words. For feedback purposes, this rocks too. Because people tell me what worked best. But for witnessing purposes, this is essential. Especially when the presentation is over, the conference has ended and I’m sitting in the airport alone, waiting for my plane to board.
All I have to do is check my tweet stream to see what my witnesses said.
Your challenge is to set up a similar system. Something gives people permission to reflect your experience back to you in real time. And whether you use a digital platform or a live feedback mechanism, I promise your work will never be the same. It’s amazing how different art becomes when you know people are watching. Who’s testifying your value?
REMEMBER: Each soul is laden with its own story to tell.
But if you have no audience, you’re just winking in the dark.
Everyone needs a witness.
Everyone needs to be a witness.
It’s what makes life worth living.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Who are your witnesses?
LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For a list called, “10 Ways to Help Your Customers Know You,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Publisher, Artist, Mentor
“I usually refuse to pay for mentoring. But after Scott’s first brain rental session, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment.”
–Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center
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