On Business Karma, Reciprocal Success and Dragon-Taming

The weekend workshop with Martha Beck blew my mind. Just blew the roof right off. It was as if every personal development book I've ever read (300+), every meditation session, every big idea I intellectually studied but never fully integrated finally clicked into place and I GOT IT. What's IT? I'm still finding words, though for me it's really about what's happening on the inside — authentic action, love, and service. And it starts at home.

Beck has three degrees from Harvard, but broke away from academia and the shackles of the Mormon church (in spite of death threats and being cut-off from the 10 members of her immediate family) when she became pregnant with a son who had Down Syndrome. She had no other option — her body was wracked with disease and her "social self" was killing her, so she vowed to live authentically from that time forward.

I could rave about her and the workshop forever (so I'll spare you) — but today I'll share a few of the big reminders that smacked me like a ton of bricks.

1. Your success is mine. Period.

On several occasions I've had potential coaching clients come to me a bit hesitantly since they feel like they might be working in "competing" areas. Would I still be willing to work with them?

"I don't worry about that for a second," I tell them, often to their surprise. What they don't realize is that I am delighted to send them referrals, even to people who could just as easily work with me.

In order to do this, I have to fundamentally believe there's enough for all of us (there is), and not only does my opportunity not disappear, it grows. Disproportionally.

I like to think if it like business karma. Plant enough seeds of generosity (without expectation) and it comes back tenfold, often in ways you won't see coming.

One of my rock-star coaching clients (they all are) Lisa taught me how to put words to this. She calls it reciprocal transformation. Lisa says:

"The heart of reciprocal transformation is selfish altruism. Go share your love, for in giving your heart you will also feel it for yourself. The experience of giving is its own gift."

And on the topic of why jealousy is a good thing, she writes:

"The principle of reciprocal transformation says that one person’s growth is another’s. When you are jealous, you have to learn to see this person’s awesomeness or good fortune as an reflection of your own possibility.

Ask yourself, what would that most supportive friend do – they would CHEER YOU ON! Whether or not you decide to actually pursue the goal another appears to have met before you, recognize your desire and appreciate the accomplishment as if it were your own. When you feel jealous, just own it, it’s natural and it’s really okay. But feel it through to the other side and CHEER THIS PERSON, AND YOURSELF, ON."

When I judge you, I judge myself. When I put you in a box, I do the same to myself. When I give freely, I reinforce the belief that plenty is on the way back.

2. Service starts at home

"You cannot change that which you are not willing to change within yourself. You have to live it. Become a window for the light to flow through, and all else will follow." —Martha Beck

Deep in my gut, I know that my "purpose" — my driving motivation — is to be of service. Sounds broad, I know. That's because I've learned to stop attaching to the numbers around it, to The Today Show, to the book deal. All I know is that I am happiest when I am giving, sharing, teaching, and inspiring.

But I kept wracking my brain this year about what my next move should be, how to SERVE THE MASSES! And you know what I lost sight of? The very basics. As I shared in my earlier post, Looking for Business Love (and Success) in All the Wrong Places, I decided to spend time just going back to square one — writing the best, most honest, authentic content I could write.

But even that didn't take it far enough.

True service starts at home. Are you being kind to yourself? Generous to yourself? I wasn't. I was berating myself, telling myself I'm a fraud and a hack because I can't bring myself to launch my next product. It felt awful.

Next, service extends to your immediate vicinity. Are you at peace and radiating positive energy? Within your home? Within your daily environment? With your family and friends?

I see now that THIS is where the work really begins. Sometimes the people closest to us are our biggest teachers, particularly around our own triggers. Can you first find acceptance and equanimity within yourself and within your closest circles?

It's only from that place that clues about how to "serve at scale" will follow.

3. What you seek is forming, but it won't reveal itself through panic or fear

I may be stating the obvious here, but the answers you are looking for do not respond well to panicky energy. This is hard to remember when you're in the middle of an anxiety attack about how to pay your bills, but it remains true. So . . .

What do you need right now in order to feel more at peace around the challenges you are facing? 

Oftentimes the most helpful thing you can do is get outside perspective — through reciprocal transformation, we can help each other move forward.

  • Do you know what a good brand strategist does? Helps you find the golden "who you are-ness" that's right under your knows (hows that for a freudian typo? It stays, even though I meant to say nose).
  • You know what the best coaches do? Hold their genuine belief in you, and remind you with rock-solid conviction that your vision IS possible, even when you forget or fall into the depths of despair.
  • And do you know what the hero of the story does (psst, that's you)? Learns to walk the razors edge of uncertainty; of fear and risk, of effort and receptivity, of hard work and serendipity, of masculine drive with feminine faith. And all this with love in his or her heart.

4.  Your dragons are doorways

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” —Rainer Maria Rilke

One helpful exercise that Martha shared with us is imagining our life as a movie, with ourself as the main character or protagonist:

  • Why was THIS very challenge, health issue or person put into your life? What it is here to teach you?
  • Why did it need to be at this "volume" or intensity? Can you find the humor in why it had to be this exact situation in order for you to finally pay attention?
  • How do you, the main character, solve the problem and emerge victorious, to a more evolved version of yourself?
  • What do you need to believe about yourself or the situation — right now — in order to take real-world steps toward that higher vision?

There will always be dragons in our lives, and they are doorways.

You don't fight these dragons with fear, you meet them where they are with acceptance and curiosity. That dragon is there to teach you something, to help you evolve. When you can see it as such and answer the call, the dragon becomes as docile as a golden retriever, and you get to pass through to the other side.