Coming up with an overarching theme isn’t easy. It usually requires a lot of introspection, active brainstorming and often an outside perspective.
Usually your overarching theme is very close to you. It’s less about a discrete topic, and more like a personal drive or value that you hold. This means that your overarching theme will most likely be tangled up in various fears and insecurities. When something really matters to us, the idea of putting that philosophy out into the world is incredibly frightening.
I remember when I was conceptualizing the idea for Puttylike. Would people really rally around this idea that you can be a shape-shifter all your life? It’s strange to think about now, but before Puttylike existed, the idea was just a kernel in my mind. All creations start out this way.
As I gear up to start working with some new students next month, I’ve been thinking about my process for helping people figure out their overarching themes. I tend to pick and choose from the exercises I included in Renaissance Business, depending on my student’s particular issue. For example, if we’re having trouble nailing the products/services component of the business, I might ask what areas my student’s friends ask her for advice about.
If I get a sense that a student is dealing with some fear and doubt, I might ask about the times/projects that really lit her up inside in the past. The idea is to both get her feeling inspired now, since it’s much easier to brainstorm in an open state. But it also helps us structure the business in a way in which the day-to-day work brings more of these sorts of moments into her life.
If one of your “most alive” moments involved working one on one with someone, then private coaching might be a good choice. If you love performing, maybe work in a live speaking component, webinars, or group courses. If you love diving deep into a solitary art project, is there a way to sell some of that artwork through the site? The more of these different sides of yourself you can work in to the business, the more fun the day-to-day running of the business will be.
But the activities themselves can tell you something about yourself. Why do you like working one on one with someone? Is it that you like helping people gain greater freedom in their lives? What are the themes you tend to express in your artwork? How do you want your art to make people feel? Why do you enjoy mountain climbing? Is it the sense of independence or adventure? These values could all potentially evolve into overarching themes (still “unclothed” of course).
Figuring out your overarching theme is so much more than coming up with a business idea. It’s a process of self-discovery. That’s the reason it’s so difficult. It’s also what makes it immensely rewarding once you get there.
What are some past experiences that lit you up inside? What was it about them that felt so rewarding? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.