What is your core message? by Mary Lou Stark
A recurring question is “What is your core message?”
It’s a lot easier to move beyond your fear when you feel confident in your primary message.
Some people seem to have had a clear sense of theirs since they were kids. They had one cause that touched their hearts early on and that cause stayed with them through out their lives.
For others, myself included, it wasn’t that obvious. Many causes have touched my heart over the years. Many have had overlapping elements.
Last winter the protests at Standing Rock, ND, and the concerns about water caught the attention of the world.
This was not the first time water was front and center. There have been oil spills in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. Droughts in different parts of the world. Water systems in large cities such as Flint, MI, that have failed quality tests.
There was a time when I wondered if water was a part of my core message. After reflection I realized that my awareness was linked more to headlines and the interests of one of my nephews who majored in water and the environment.
Yes, water availability and quality are important to me. But when it drops out of the headlines it also drops out of my awareness, so it is not my core message.
I have learned a way to identify my core message. It combines reflection and journaling with the development of a table.
They say we go through 7-year cycles as we grow and, hopefully, mature. Some lessons get repeated at more depth. Some are learned and we move on.
The following exercise will help you find your core message.
Step 1. Answer the following questions for each cycle (0 – 7 years old, 8 – 14 years old, 15 – 21 years old, 22 – 28 years old, 29 – 35 years old, 35 – 42 years old, and so on):
- Where and with whom did I live?
- What were some events (minor or major) that come to mind from that time period?
- What was happening in school or work at that time?
- What were my leisure interests then?
You may have to set aside time more that once to complete this part of the exercise.
Step 2. When you have addressed every age cycle, create a table with a column for each question and plug in the pieces that stand out for you.
Step 3. Then look over your table and see what underlying issue keeps showing up. Your vocabulary will probably vary but there will be a central theme.
* * * * *
I grew up in a family that maintained secrets around relationships, behavior, addiction, and money. It’s no surprise that I grew up to value clarity and candor. And that the availability of accurate information has always been important to me.
As I look back over my life, in my personal life and my professional life, access to information was always there.
I majored in education. I taught communication skills to adults as a rehabilitation teacher for newly blind adults and as an education therapist for veterans in a VA facility.
I became a Toastmaster, polishing my skills in sharing information.
I studied parliamentary procedure and became a certified parliamentarian. One of the primary goals of parliamentary procedure is that decisions are based on having heard all sides of a question.
And now I work with writers on creating materials that their readers will read and enjoy without distraction.
Access to accurate information has been an underlying part of my life for as long as I can remember. It hurts my heart to see poorly written materials that can cause the reader to make poorly thought out decisions and that can hurt the author’s reputation and credibility.
* * * * *
The probability is that the importance of having access to accurate information is not your core message. Yet you do have one.
Take the time to go through the exercise I shared.
As you look back over your life, what values and interests repeat themselves?
This is where you will find your core message. Other things will move in and out of your life. Only one or two will appear multiple times.
he outer appearances of your message may vary over time, yet the core will remain the same. This is what will give you the impetus to move beyond your fear.
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