Free resources for coaches and healers who are passionate about purpose.


How To Explain What You Do

by bevbarnes on August 15, 2012

When I was little, I was asked over and over again

“What does your Father do?”

I hated the question.  Why did they want to know?  What did what my father did have to do with anything?  For me that question was always an effort to classify my father into a category so that people would know how much money he made.

Did you pick up on my unhealed resentment?

I wonder if I’d have been so sensitive about that question if my father had been a doctor, a lawyer, or business mogul or if I hadn’t been a visible minority.  (That’s Canadian-speak for African American.)

I believed that once I answered that question I was being categorized and judged.

When I went to University the question became

“What are you in?”

When I started working, I was asked,

“What do you do?”

I never really felt that I answered these questions honestly.  My job title never described what I did or anything about me. 

This question has always bothered me.

Until now.

Now I know that your real job in life is to be who you are.

Since I re-invented my work so that I could be who I really am at work why should I keep referring to myself as a job title?

Now when I’m asked that question I know it is an opportunity to share my superpowers – the things that I do just like breathing that are critical to my life’s work.

This is what I’ve started saying:

I provide clarity, wisdom and hope. 

Goodbye Life Coach.

Hello Clarity, Wisdom, and Hope Provider.

Join me and find some new words that describe what you do.

Here’s how :

Ask your clients, colleagues, friends and family this question:

  What do you get from interacting or working with me?

  Write down their answers and summarize the 3 or 4 answers that are repeated over and over again;

  Pick the words that truly resonate for you – check whether you feel free and light rather than tight and constrained as you say them;

– Voila!  You’ve found what you really do, not what your job title is.

If you are in business and you want to talk more specifically about who you serve you can add information about the people that you serve.  Here’s my example: 

I provide clarity, wisdom and hope to people who want to find and claim their true calling.

What do you do?

I LOVE hearing from you.  Let me know on the blog below what you do.  Let’s start a movement, describing what we really do instead of our job titles.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Ignace August 16, 2012 at 11:57 am

Thanks Bev,

What a refreshing way to start wonderful Thursday ! Yesterday night I was updating my Linkedin profile and I exactly stumbled on the way to describe my new job. Words were not able to deliver a correct figure of what I’m really doing. I think I put structure where I work, also harmony in the team, but there is surely something else ! I will make the questions exercise. Thanks again Bev your thoughts are enlghtening !

Have a super nice day

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Bev Barnes August 16, 2012 at 12:08 pm

I love that Ignace. Thanks for sharing what you do.

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Linda Ford August 16, 2012 at 12:35 pm

love this Bev! I too always hated that question, and still today it always feels so incomplete when I say, I’m a life coach. So, what I say now is: I help women unleash their full potential. How many people can say that about their job? Thanks for another great blog.

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Bev Barnes August 16, 2012 at 1:15 pm

I love how you describe what you do Linda. Perfect. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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Julene August 16, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Bev, I have always hated that question too. Even more so, since I started my own business (graphic design, artist and mom) I find every time someone asks, I choke up, not sure what to even say. I started small. On my email tagline it reads this:
visionary . explorer . inspirationist
Even a few times I said, “I’m an artist.” It was liberating.
Thanks for your insight-fullness!

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Bev Barnes August 16, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Hi Julene. You are so welcome. I love that your tag line describes you. Yes when you have your own business you can invent how you describe yourself so that your potential clients know what they can expect. If it feels liberating then it is the perfect description!

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Janelle August 16, 2012 at 11:18 pm

Love, love, love this!

I deliver personal empowerment, happiness, and direction to people struggling to control their diets, bodies, and lives.

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Bev Barnes August 16, 2012 at 11:37 pm

I love what you do Janelle!

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Donna August 16, 2012 at 11:49 pm

I love this approach to what do I do. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

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Bev Barnes August 16, 2012 at 11:51 pm

You are welcome Donna. So funny, when you used wisdom I thought “what a nice thing to say”. Then I realized that was one of my words 🙂

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Amie August 17, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Bev,

This is brilliant! I too have struggled with this question; when I didn’t enjoy what I did and even now when I adore what “I do”. Sputtering out the term “Life Coach” always leaves me feeling like a generic wackadoodle. I’ve been searching for a new title and your poignant post gave me great evidence to quit. The tag line I have adopted is, “Helping women cultivate authenticity, courage and joy throughout all stages of the motherhood journey.” That’s a little better, but I’m looking forward to doing the exercise You recommend and coming up with a few words I feel really proud to say. Thank you!

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Bev Barnes August 17, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Amie, I love how your “job” description can become your tagline. I’m going to use your phrase “generic whackadoodle”. I loved that too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your process.

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Penny August 17, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Explaining “what I do” can be perplexing. Being neither employed, nor self-employed, my job as a caregiver is difficult to qualify when people are wondering what I do with myself all day without a real job! It took my elderly mom with Alzheimer’s disease, who was searching for the words to tell her friend that I was her eldest daughter to say: “She’s a person who takes care of the people” for me to realize my work. Nonetheless, I think the more I value what I do and its importance, the less inadequate I feel about saying: “I’m a caregiver”! So to you Bev, my Life Coach, and to all the “Life Coaches” out there, thanks for what you do; your work is extremely valuable!

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Bev Barnes August 17, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Yay to you Penny! What great words your mother found. Paid or not, this is your work:)

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Ave Maria Cross August 30, 2012 at 3:04 am

I bring joy to children…

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Bev Barnes August 30, 2012 at 3:06 am

I love this Ave. Simple and clear.

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