The emperor wears no clothes

It’s cold — as in air-conditioning cold — in the hotel conference room. I’m gathered with a bunch of other women at a self-development conference, and we’ve been picking apart our lives (in between shivering or baking) all weekend.

Many of the women are coaches. In fact, I’d say 80% are, which is why this weekend has been so difficult for us.

You know the old saying: “The emperor has no clothes”? It refers to a fairy tale in which an emperor is hoodwinked into believing that two tailors have made him the most handsome outfit in the world. However, if you’re stupid or ignorant, he’s told, you can’t see the clothes. Of course, this is all bullshit and the tailors made nothing. The emperor walks naked down the street in a procession, yet all his townsfolk except one honest child are afraid to say what they really see.

Today we use this phrase to mean that we sometimes portray things about ourselves to others that are deeply untrue, because we’ve hoodwinked our own selves into believing them. It means we can be hypocrites, that we’re false under our own words.

I find that coaches often carry this energy in their own Flow. It’s embarrassing. Here we are, leading people into knowledge and guiding them toward their desires, while our own desires are unfulfilled and we fail to follow our own advice.

Think: the plumber whose own pipes are always broken. The accountant whose own accounts are a mess. You get the idea.

The question is: Does this mean we’re truly illegitimate? Hypocritical? Are we sipping our own Kool Aid? Are we wearing no clothes?

Ms. Goalypants

Hey there, Ms. Goaly-pants. Ease up.

If January (and all its goal-setting hoohaw) is sitting hard on your heart, then here is a reframe.

Relax. Breathe.

Most of us tend to overcomplicate everything because we’re driven by lack-thinking. And so we spend our days trying to be super on top of everything so nothing bad will happen. It’s frickin’ exhausting.

Now add those new January goals to the list. Arggh! Do you see why you don’t keep them?

The idea of living in a state of ease has become an ideal for most of us. Instead, it’s all: Goals! Work! Goals! Work!

Letting go and trusting Flow is apparently only what you get to do when you retire. (As in: hard work, frustration, and sacrifice now . . . ease later.)

Overcommitted exhaustion and continuously feeling behind or “not as good as”become the default energies that show up in every area of our life. And, instead of ending up successful, we end up burned out, cranky, unhealthy, and often with lower self-esteem than when we started.

Here’s the email that provoked this thought in me:

My meltdown friends

The first email I read today is a friend’s “so-called” business newsletter. She usually hardly ever talks about business in it.

Instead, she’s typically describing her latest break up drama, or how her company is reinventing itself in perfect syncopation with her own internal reinvention, which happens dramatically around every six months. Her newsletter stays juicy.

I love it.

I’ve realized that the three newsletters I read most often are all from women who tell me about their kids, husbands, and lives more than anything else.

There’s the corporate woman with the farmer husband. And the Australian woman who keeps moving houses every year, always searching for the better place to be, dragging her husband and kiddos with her. And the entrepreneurial lawyer who’s a Burning Man devotee.

I realize that even though I’m reading their emails just to find the juicy scoop on what’s going on in their world, they somehow slip in their business messages too.

In fact it deepens their validity that I can watch them build and run hugely successful businesses exactly while all their head and heart drama unfolds.

It’s not a slow train wreck…it’s a slow train assembly, and they’re simply handling all the routine fallout from life as they continuously assemble their dreams.

I used to think life was fair

I used to think life was fair: If I played by the rules, bad stuff wouldn’t happen. Now I know that those rules are bunk.

I received an email this morning from someone that puts into words exactly how I used to feel:

She wrote: “We couldn’t afford much as we went through our layoff with our newborn and toddler in tow, but we managed to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps in the end. For quite awhile there, our life was a chaotic storm. We couldn’t see anything but the nightmare around us…we didn’t understand…we were educated professionals who played by the rules…why is this happening to us?!

I know that feeling so well. It’s pure disillusionment.

But when you get past this, you become free. Absolutely free.

Here’s why:

We all have a set of rules that we play by. And we get really upset when other people break these rules, and seem to suffer no consequences.

(Have you ever wished someone you despise would get a broken leg, but they NEVER do, and worse, better and better things keep happening to them? If you have, you’ve got to keep reading.)

We also get bummed when we ourselves do everything right, and then one day we get completely dumped on.

I felt this way when I left my corporate job. It wasn’t fair that I was making the company multi-millions each year through our new division, and no one saw or cared about what I had given them, even when the numbers were staring them right in the face.

I felt this way, too, when I got cancer at 43. I eat organic foods, was vegetarian for 24 years, and I’ve probably swallowed more herbs and vitamins than most people will consume in a lifetime. So, cancer? Seriously?

It’s not fair.

However…thank God I’ve gotten over fairness!!!! 

Hear me: Fairness can hamstring you and hold you back in ways you can’t imagine. Let’s turn this concept on its head. 

Ready to go break a ceiling in your thinking?

I’ve got a much better strategy to play by!!! 

Do you want to find out what it is???

Sucky jobs & pre-existing patterns

One of my students, Maddy, is telling me that she’s waking up at night, panicky, worrying that she’s going to lose her house when they lay her off at work. She doesn’t know when the layoffs will come.

She’s living in a constant state of low-level fear, feeling horribly frustrated and powerless. She’s even applied for another job in the same field that she doesn’t even want, and afraid they’ll reject her.

Last night, another student, Claire, told me that she’s already lost her job and now she’s dreading finding another even as the bills are piling up, since the jobs are always the same low-level, horrible, mind-numbing kind. She’s been on a merry-go-round of them for twenty-five years. Her credit card is stacked up with debt.

Both Claire and Maddy have the same emotional energetic pattern. Let’s pull it out into the sunshine and take a look.

I ask Maddy why she thinks she can’t be happy in a career.

She answers, “My parents always said ‘just get a job. No one likes their job. Everyone just does one. That’s the way it is. Just get through it.’”

“And that’s what you’ve been doing?”

She tearfully nods and chokes out, “Yeah.”

“Do you think I hate my job?” I ask.

“No.”

“Does my husband hate his job as a designer? Do you think my mom hates her job? Did my aunt hate her job teaching English as s second language? Does my cousin hate his job as a chef?”

No, no, no, and no.

“And do you think we have jobs we love because we’re special or smarter or something? In other words, different or better than you?”

“Yes,” she practically whispers.