ego

No One Can Do You Like You Do.

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  There are a lot of coaches doing the work I do.

There are a lot of people in the business of health and wellness, competing for the same time, energy, air space, resources, money, clients, etc. Sometimes it makes me a little nervous, I'll be honest. Industry experts and trade secrets tell me I am either crazy or right-on to tell you this, which is a whole other blog post for another time--that whole authenticity thing. Stay tuned for that one. For now, let's stay here--with fear, doubt and what you can do with it.

It's true. Sometimes, I get especially nervous when I see someone copying something I've just launched, taking material I put out there (maybe a recipe or a blog post or twitter bio) and passing it off as their own without a mention or reference as to the source of inspiration. Despite that old saying, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" sometimes it doesn't feel that way, especially when you're talking about building and sustaining a business. It's easy to get small and concerned and need the validation and maybe even a little frustrated when you think someone is stealing your spotlight--or your brand or your message or __something__ faster, bigger, sooner or better. Can you relate?

Well, it isn't true, because no one can do you like you do. It's just not possible.

For instance, I saw this guy online, a big twitter personality with massive numbers of followers, suddenly start talking about health and nutrition. Since he has built his business around being a guru of marketing, it surprised me that he was now talking about health and fitness considering he didn't really have "credentials" to do it. I got all up in my head thinking about his reach and his advantage, etc. etc. And I even went to that "but he knows nothing about nutrition" place. That dark, small, lonely space. Hmm.

Then, I paid closer attention and realized he was on a path, himself, to become more healthy. He was busting his ass day in and day out trying to find the answers and solutions he needed to feel better in his skin. I instantly got flooded with compassion and, I'll admit, love. He was walking his talk, just like me, trying to get from A to B and inspire people along the way. When I read his posts and followed his pictures on instagram, I realized it was nothing like what I'd do or promote or put out there as advice or ideas but his followers were eating it up, pun intended. It was working for him and that's all that mattered.

It was him doing him. And his followers needed that from him, because only he could do it like that. 

I could go on with more stories but I think you get it. Whether it's someone changing his twitter bio to match what you say in yours (it's happened to me), sending a similar message in marketing, copying your recipes and not giving you credit (it happened to my friend) or heck, copying your interior design as they open a new business right across the street from you (also a true story), it can certainly bring up feelings of frustration, concern or worry. We can go to that place of scarcity and threat, that there isn't enough to go around and someone doing what you're doing takes away from what you're trying to accomplish. Think of the hours spent in litigation (legal or mental) over things like this and how much time it takes away from actually just DOING more of the stuff you love to do?

If you can allow those feelings to come up and get them out, it's a good thing. I can even go the Buddhist place with this stuff and tell you that it's all about impermanence, right? Wanting to hold onto something and make it be ours and ours forever--and not wanting it to end. Get present with that fear, get real with that concern and talk to someone about it or write it down. Then work on getting to the place of remembering that no one, NO ONE, can do you like you do. There's only one person who can say it like you'll say it, do it like you'll do it and sell it like only YOU can sell it.

Your sass. Your wit. Your insights. Your ideas. Your color. Your character. Your wisdom. Your experience. Your perspective.

Social media shows that everyone is doing their thing, adding their two cents to the hustle and competing against hundreds and thousands of competitors.

We can get caught up in the stress of trying to win "the game" with content, messaging and marketing all hours of the day or we can relax and stay true to us and what we love and want to create and share. Besides, we're all saying or doing the same things, in case you haven't noticed. We might as well add our voice to the mix for whomever needs to hear it as only we can, and feel damn good about when others do it themselves.

Karma Came 'Round

"People get into a heavy-duty sin and guilt trip, feeling that if things are going wrong, that means that they did something bad and they are being punished. That's not the idea at all. The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need to open your heart. To the degree that you didn't understand in the past how to stop protecting your soft spot, how to stop armoring your heart, you're given this gift of teachings in the form of your life, to give you everything you need to open further." -Pema Chodron I am a huge fan of Pema. We're both from New Jersey. We both are pretty sassy. We are both brave, independent and honest with ourselves. Where we're different is that she's a Buddhist nun and I'm...not.

here's Pema being rad.

But I do consider myself a Buddhist. And I do consider myself a bodhisattva (an enlightened being or one who seeks enlightenment). In my path to attain enlightenment, I try to remain open to receive the lessons that life has to teach me so I can have less suffering, inflict less suffering onto others and therefore contribute to as much peace and harmony as possible.

This past weekend was a tricky one. Full of highs and lows. After an experience I had flying home from San Diego yesterday, the only word that came to mind was one: karma. Because it's been warped (like many good things) in modern American vernacular, I wanted to share my understanding of this word as it relates to my experiences this past weekend. I do agree with Pema, that I am brought the experiences and teachings I need to open my heart. And boy, did it get CRACKED WIDE OPEN yesterday evening!

I was in San Diego to facilitate a day-long workshop to inspire and encourage folks of the surrounding area to improve their ministry to young adults. These people gave up a Saturday to come learn how they could be a part of spreading Unitarian Universalism to younger people who might find a spiritual home in that community. I was one of those young people about 10 years ago. I was suffering my first heartbreak, coming out about my sexual orientation, managing being a young 8th grade teacher, you know...life. I met a friend who invited me to a worship service, and then to her house for a potluck dinner and...10 years later, I'm standing in front of a gathered crowd as a leader and trainer to do the work as a supposed "expert". I am working on a book that includes more details of what has happened in those 10 years, but for now, suffice it to say that the event was a huge success and was one of the most heartbreaking experiences I've had to date. See--it was my full-time job to host and conduct events like this not even 2 years ago, but I was asked to leave my position in 2009. It was meant to be. Everything happens for good reason. It was the next step on my path. There were, however, aspects of my departure that had left me feeling some deep pain, grief and sadness. Low self-confidence, even. So to stand there and do work I once really loved, now bringing everything I've learned from health coaching and breathe that new energy and experience into my presentation on Saturday, was cathartic. To be given the chance to share my story of how UUism affected my life and my health and my spiritual path---and invite those generous people to offer that same gift to more young adults---was a precious and deeply moving gift.  I also got to share the company of some amazing friends--which was so gratifying, I barely ate a bite at the dinners we shared. I had no need for food, because the company fed my soul in every way.

I was revelling. Life felt full, and wonderful and abundant.

And then came the karma I had sent out on Friday came back around to teach me a valuable lesson of the heart. Upon arriving at the airport on Friday, I had taken pictures with my iPhone of people waiting in line for McDonald's. I also noticed that the woman sitting in my row on the airplane was so obese that she couldn't fit in the seat. Judgments. My ego was judging.

Upon sitting in my airplane seat yesterday, I learned about judging. I spent the better part of 4 hours trying to reason with a 22-year old British student (doing a semester abroad here) whose religious beliefs vary greatly from mine. I'm a sinner. She's a sinner. Everyone's a sinner. But because the Bible says that God only believes a man should be with a woman (and vice versa), my sins keep me from loving God fully. And I'm on the list along with being a murderer, having sex before marriage, etc.

Loving my girlfriend, you see, makes me a Supreme sinner.

I was raised Catholic. I spent the past 7 years working in the headquarters offices of a progressive religious organization. I have friends who love me, a thriving practice, a loving partner, a good working environment...validation, praise and affirmation surround me each and every day. I had just come off a high of it the day before.

So what made me engage with this person for 4 hours, listening to her indoctrinated speech?

I believe it was two things: Karma and Ego. My ego was attached to my beliefs, my ego wanted to change her belief system (because it is also attached to the suffering that comes when I succumb to feeling oppressed) and my ego needed to bring into balance the supreme joy that I had felt only hours earlier. My ego wanted to make sure that the Enlightenment I had achieved didn't last too long.

The karma? I had judged, and now I was being judged. I hadn't been compassionate enough with people who eat McDonald's. I had drawn lines around my behavior, training, choices and vision to be "right" and then identified people who eat processed, unhealthy food to be "wrong". So it was that energy that came back around in the form of a young, innocent-looking 22 year old person---who sat there and drew lines around her belief system and mine. And judged me.

Lessons learned. Humility restored. Compassion begets enlightenment, which begets compassion.

With this experience, my spiritual health has been fortified. I woke up and felt that restored balance affecting other areas of my health. This is what I share with my clients: one area will affect the whole picture. Even as I was eating well and feeling balanced and inspired in my career--my spiritual practice had drifted a bit and fallen out of alignment.

Take a look at these aspects of your life: your job, your relationship, your spirituality, your exercise. Which has drifted and what lessons are being brought to you so you can do some much-needed repair work?

Can you see the lessons for what they are? Can you see the karma as an opportunity and not a punishment?