Years ago – back when I was still performing music for a living, a motivational speaker almost made me give up on my dreams.
In fact, he told me to give up.
He stood on stage and shared the driving motivations behind his success, each of which were noble and beautiful…
His passion for healing the world.
His desire to transform lives.
The discovery of his higher calling.
Then he went on to say that if these kinds of things didn’t motivate each of us in the audience, then we should give up and go home until we can align with that pure level of intention. Otherwise, we would not be able to withstand the daily work.
And I almost took his advice.
In that moment, as I explored the deepest parts of myself, I found that, yes, I had some beautiful intentions in my work as a musician…
I wanted to inspire people.
I wanted to encourage and help people.
But along side of that stuff, I also had these really embarrassing prom-queen-like motivations.
They said things like, “Screw healing! I want approval!” It was clear that these voices were every bit as much a part of my motivation as my more noble intentions.
The challenge of being self-aware is that you’re aware of ALL of yourself. Not just the stuff that’s conveniently noble!
So, I went home, and for a few months, I told myself that I wasn’t going to pursue anything anymore until those needy, smarmy, prom-queen, ego voices went away forever.
I find this hysterically funny now.
And occasionally, I receive notes and emails from people who are trying to do the same thing… get rid of their ego. They doubt that they can live their purpose or their passion because they notice that they can’t get their egos out of these intentions and dreams. (Maybe they went and saw that same speaker!)
So, I tell them the very thing I discovered for myself…
You don’t have to.
When I finally did decide to go forward with my music, I allowed both parts of me to go along for the ride…
My noble wise-self with her beautiful deep intentions.
And my needy, grasping, approval-whore who wanted applause and to prove herself to anyone who ever doubted her.
The two could live side by side. And one would begin to heal the other.
As I moved forward, I allowed my calling to teach me how to live in the deeper self more often, creating lighter and better directions for me.
I also let my needy self teach me how to expand beyond those old patterns and fears, and how to accept them when they arose.
To say it wasn’t always easy is a giant understatement.
But taking action is often the very thing that will help all that ego stuff burn away slowly. If you can stay present and watch yourself make choices and take actions with a clear awareness of what fuels you, then you’ll keep growing and learning.
But waiting is a dead end.
And waiting for enlightenment or purity – as I was attempting to do all those years ago – is really just an attempt at avoiding pain. I didn’t like the discomfort that my ego made me feel and the shame of the “stuff” that would come up. So, the whole idea of enlightenment felt like a good way out – sort of like a spiritual martini. If I waited long enough, I’d never have to face that crap, right?
Slowly, I learned the hardcore, no-nonsense spiritual truth of business: Take action in spite of your flaws.
I realized that spiritual perfectionism is every bit as insane as my old eating disorder perfectionism. The action I’ve taken, in spite of my ego, has made all the difference.
Those ego voices are only a tiny part of my life now. They show up on occasion and have lots to say, but I no longer try to get rid of them. I sit with them. I’m present to them. I let them have their voice. But they don’t run the show.
And now I’ve become someone who speaks from stages, inspires people and coaches them on how to build and run successful businesses…
…and I will never ever tell you that you should only ever be purely driven by your noble motivations. It all gets to come along for the ride. That’s what makes you real. That’s what makes it worthwhile.