I was on my way to a speaking gig in Austin, Texas. The taxi driver picked me up from the hotel so naturally he asked me if I was in town for business. “Sure am.” I said. Then he asked what I did. (A question that always makes me sigh heavily inside. I teach people about the importance of having a “cocktail line,” so lest I be a hypocrite, I have a smooth one liner that I can pull out at parties. This is NOT it:)
“I write, and I speak…on stage…n’ stuff.” (Severely LAME intro, my Fire Starter Sessions readers would be aghast.) “You’re taking me to my gig tonight, actually.”
“What do you talk about?” asked Bert.
“About being yourself,” said I, Mademoiselle Motivational Speaker.
Silence. He was doing the math.
“Ain’t it kind of sad that you gotta talk to people about being themselves?” asked Bert, thinking nothing of it. I laughed. Like, slapped my legged and threw back my head laughing. It was just the kind of relief that’s sweet before you’re about to go on stage in heels that will expire in precisely 2 hours.
“Yeah, it’s sad. But if everyone were authentic, I’d be out of a gig, Bert. Some people need what I got. And if not, well I’m always good for a few jokes.”
We laughed, together.
HAWKING WISDOM, AND BUYING IT
As a professional, I prey pray on the conundrums of the human condition. I get to polish my halo because we’re all such fucked up, curious, perfectly beautiful messes. Cha-ching. I tell people things that are primary to some ears, and YES! revolutionary to other hearts.
As a peddler of stuff that goes into the collective field of consciousness, I’m responsible to wonder: Do you really NEED what I’ve got? I don’t want to load the cultural landfill with useless know-what-ness.
Try this. The next time you walk into a bookstore, or stumble upon a seemingly helpful blog, or lean in to hear a theory from someone supposedly wiser or more trained than you, just ask yourself:
DO I REALLY NEED THIS?
When you ask yourself if you really need what someone is selling (from flip flops to life philosophy,) you start to rattle the trance-inducing phenomena of “popular,” “pretty,” “bestselling,” “certified,” “ordained,” et cetera-rah-blah-blah-blah.
There are books that hit the NYTimes Bestseller list that are about the merits of being nice to people in business. About how, (hold on, this is breakthrough theorizing:) taking an active interest in people can help you build better relationships in the workplace; why asking people about their personal lives before a meeting can make them feel like they’re part of team. (Wow. Is that like, statistically proven?)
Do you really need a blog to tell you how to…be nice?
And now there’s a plethora of material about building trust, as if trust is a precious mineral that only some gifted folk know how to mine.
Do you really need a book to tell you how to…be trust-worthy?
Here, I’ll tell you in one sentence and you can skip all those books: be yourself on a regular basis and don’t tell lies. It’s worked well for a lot of people I know. Renegades.
DO I REALLY NEED THIS?
It’s such a fog-cutting, wake-you-up kind of question. It activates your smarty pants brain chemicals, it safeguards you like a big brother looking after you on the first day of school. “Do I really need this?” saves you cash money. (WalMart might consider this article propaganda.)
So when the blogger or the Buddhist or the Motivational Speaker in heels tells you the answer to your problem, maybe you don’t really need that answer. You have your very own.
Take my word for it.