For accessibility and ease, you can listen to this post narrated by Mike:
I’ve never responded well to unsolicited advice.
People who told me to “eat healthier.” Or wake up earlier. Or exercise. Or read more books. Or charge higher prices. Or dream bigger.
Because I’d spent most of my life already in deep shame. That I wasn’t doing enough. That I wasn’t enough. And any type of advice—even if it was well-meaning—came across as more shaming to me.
Even if this advice actually did resonate with me, it’s not like I wasn’t engaging with it because I didn’t have the information. In the days of high-speed Internet and social media sharing, we all have the information.
But there’s a big difference between knowing how nutritious vegetables are and actually eating them. It’s rarely education that’s the missing element.
But that didn’t stop people from giving me unsolicited advice. My whole life, I felt objectified. Like I was rough marble that needed refinement. Like people saw this potential in me, if only I knew of their advice.
I’d hear things like, “Oh, people will take you more seriously in business if you dress better” and “You could be so powerful if only you exercised more.”
Again, well-meaning. But not necessarily true or relevant for me. And, even if it was, there was a reason I wasn’t engaging in those things—and it wasn’t because I hadn’t heard their advice yet.
We visionaries are sensitive. We’re sensitive to how aligned we feel with something. We’re sensitive to others’ opinions and judgments. We’re sensitive to our own fears and shame. We’re sensitive to feeling “too much” and “not enough.”
As our COO Sherri Hayter recently said to me about procrastination, “It’s never really about the work. It’s about all of the emotional stuff around the work.”
There we go, mistaking the container for the essence again. Pretending it’s about the thing when, really, it’s about what the thing means. The essence. The emotional stuff in our way.
Choosing to, say, eat a few more vegetables or start writing that book really isn’t a big deal. But the emotional stuff around it is huge.
Why aren’t we eating those vegetables? Why do we prefer that chocolate, instead? How does it relate to our stress levels? And our relationships? And our work life? And our early trauma? And the shame we felt when people judged us about our bodies?
It’s about the vegetables, but it’s not just about the vegetables.
And, when we reduce it to just an issue of education, we ignore all of the other emotional stuff. We mistake the container for the essence. And we reiterate shame.
Because, if it’s only about knowing what might be helpful, then what the fuck? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just get myself to do it? Why can’t I have more willpower?
And we’re back to our old friend, willpower. Shaming us for not having, doing, or being enough. For not being good enough at depriving ourselves.
That’s why I don’t often like unsolicited advice.
Because it becomes about centering others’ advice over our own emotional states. It’s telling ourselves that our emotions are illogical and—quite frankly—worthless. And we should just get over them.
There are infinite pieces of unsolicited advice that I’ve resisted over the years. People who told me I should make the language of the work more accessible. People who told me I should run retreats. People who told me I should hire team members.
And, some things, I didn’t resonate with. But, even the ones I did, I was so caught up in my own emotional state that I couldn’t really evaluate for myself.
I knew when I changed my wardrobe that it had to be less about looking more professional and more about looking like me if I ever were to do it. And, honestly, it was only after our first Sacred Circle—when I first discovered my unique genius—that I went into a wardrobe overhaul. Because now I knew who I was and how I wanted to express that.
And I resisted changing the language of the work for so long. Because it felt like another place that people were telling me I wasn’t enough. That they couldn’t understand me—again. And I had to change myself to be understood.
It was only after expressing myself so fully with hundreds of clients who got me and were ready to go even deeper that I was finally able to see that, yeah, we want to make sure we can make this work accessible to even wider ranges of people.
Writing some copy isn’t a big deal. But getting to an emotional place where that copy is clear and accessible—that’s a whole different beast.
It’s never really about the thing we think it is. It’s about the essence inside—what it represents to us, what it means. And we can’t mistake the container for the essence.
There’s a big difference between knowing a website is how people can find you and actually building one.
There’s a big difference between knowing meditation is good for you and getting up to a consistent practice for the next six months.
There’s a big difference between knowing that a talk about finances would be helpful for your relationship and actually doing it.
If we keep pretending it’s only about the thing in front of us, we’re going to keep minimizing our emotions and shaming ourselves.
And we visionaries have had too much life spent in shame. And our visions are too big and too important to keep doing that to ourselves.
We’re not wrong. Our emotions are not wrong.
We’re not wrong.
Our job is to stop objectifying ourselves. To see that it’s not just about the container. There’s an essence—an emotional meaning behind it. And that’s what we’re reacting to. And that’s where the real work can be done.
A new house is never just a new house. A new website is never just a new website. Sales copy is never just sales copy.
And our ability to dive deep into the emotional layers of it all will help us get to the heart of the matter—to see what’s really going on.
We visionaries are inherently metaphorical beings. We see the world through meaning and representation. We see life force in the lifeless containers.
We see sadness in paintings. And joy in music. And love in writing.
We see the vision beyond the literal and physical layers. Because we’re sensitive. We can sense more.
Don’t shame yourself for experiencing a greater depth of the world. It’s your genius.
And, no matter how well-intentioned that unsolicited advice, no one else has a genius exactly like you do.
You can see the essence inside.