For accessibility and ease, you can listen to this post narrated by Mike:
This past weekend—at the perfect junction of my two weeks of slowed down work, my Free week in the Unique Genius Experiment, and Garrett’s birthday—we decided to spend a long weekend in Portsmouth, NH.
At the end of a full weekend of delicious dinners, gluten-free pastries, and even Portsmouth’s Pride parade, we decided to check out a free performance of Beauty and the Beast in the park before we headed home.
As I sat on the ground, watching dozens of actors sharing their craft for little or no pay, I couldn’t help but think that I’d never felt more proud to be a visionary.
To be so sensitive, to feel the life beaming from the stage. The inspiration, the passion, the love.
And I watched the story unfold, as “the Beast’s” household staff slowly turned into objects. Reduced to less and less life force. Mere images or caricatures of who they once were.
Only love could save them. Loving the Beast and all of these objects enough to breathe life back into them. To make them feel alive again.
Isn’t that our stories as visionaries?
We’ve been reduced our entire lives. “Too sensitive” and “too emotional.” Labeled the nerd or the loud one or the slut or the good boy or girl. Mired in shame. Until the point where maybe we started believing those stories, too. That parts of us were broken or wrong. And we could never be all of who we are.
So, as time wears on, and as we are only seen as part of who we are, we become objectified. Turned into objects. With less genius and life force.
And only love can break the spell. Only love—being loved as all of who we are—can break it. Even the parts we’ve deemed shameful. Even the stuff that’s “too much” or “not enough.”
Only that can bring us fully alive again. To reclaim our genius.
And that love starts with ourselves. It starts with us doing the deep work to see that we’re not broken or fucked up or wrong. We are geniuses. Alive but slowly crystalizing into objects after years of feeling shame. Believing we are less and less capable of changing our situations as time goes on.
As I watched the passion of these visionaries sweep across the stage, I saw Beauty and the Beast in a whole new light. In some ways, it was about the “beauty and the beast” in each of us. Loving the good, the bad, and the ugly. What is praised and what is shamed.
Taking all of those labels, all of those objectifications, all of that “branding,” and using it to become more alive.
After all, that’s what Sacred Branding® is. Subverting the objectification. Using it to see all of who we are—even the parts we’re ashamed of. And loving those, too.
If we loved the parts of ourselves that we’re most ashamed of, could they too transform back into genius, just like Lumiere and Mrs. Potts and even the Beast?
Could claiming our “ugliness” and being unafraid to look it in the eye be the key to loving it into genius?
I think of how often I wouldn’t have pushed to stay and watch this play. How much I would have thought it was too childish and too silly when there would be so much traffic back to the city.
Just like how often I wouldn’t object to that restaurant that had no food for me because I didn’t want to be high-maintenance. Or how often I wouldn’t share my true feelings because I didn’t want to be “too emotional.” Or how often I didn’t go after my dreams because people told me I was too “idealistic” and “unrealistic.”
I would have silently carried that shame. And missed another opportunity to do what I wanted, what I needed, to access my genius.
You’re damn right I’m high-maintenance and sensitive. There’s a lot of genius to maintain here. And that sensitivity is exactly how I can sense more—see more of the world—as part of my genius.
Over the last few years, I’ve slowly stopped apologizing for the parts of myself that I thought were shameful. And, instead, I loved them—even when it was hard to—until they transformed into genius for me.
Until my emotions and sensitivities and vulnerabilities didn’t just stop holding me back; they became the reasons for my success.
Because they are my genius. They’re my life force. They’re the unique magic that only I can share with the world.
The more I shame and objectify them—or let the world do it to me—the more numb and lifeless I feel. And I spent a lot of time in my life feeling numb and lifeless. Not realizing just how full of life I could be in every single moment.
Genius is splattered all across Beauty and the Beast. From the ostracized genius Maurice whose inventions are too visionary for the townspeople, to the ever-curious bookworm Belle whose fascination with different worlds and possibilities were too imaginative for her neighbors, to even the cursed prince in the Beast who was judged before anyone could see the royalty inside.
It’s a story of visionaries learning to claim their genius from a world that constantly ridicules them for being different. And of learning to love those differences into transforming into their rightful genius.
It’s not an easy path. For any of us. For the characters in the story. For the actors performing on stage every weekend for meager pay. For both Garrett and me watching, who made many sacrifices to do the exact work we want in the world. For every single person reading this who is a visionary.
It’s not easy. But the alternative is to let the world turn us into objects. Devoid of life. Devoid of genius. Reduced only to the parts others can understand and see as worthy.
The magic comes when we fall in love with the genius inside of us and the genius inside of everyone else.
The world comes back alive. And we visionaries are all seen for who we truly are on the inside beneath layers of shame: geniuses.
Questions for Reflection:
*Answer in a journal, in the comments right here, or take it over to the Sacred Branding® Facebook group where we can support one another:
How do you transform yourself into a genius?
— Have you ever felt like any part of you was “weak” or “broken”? Have you ever wished you could change a part of yourself—to maybe be “less sensitive” or “less high-maintenance”?
— Have you felt stuck in your life? A situation? Work? A relationship? Have you wished you could just transform yourself into someone that just has it easier? Someone whom the world sees as a genius?
— What if you could take a tip from Beauty and the Beast and love even the “ugly,” “shameful” or different parts of yourself? What if loving all of yourself—especially the “too much” and “not enough”—is how you transform them into genius? What would it take to love those parts and breathe life into them?