Oh, NOW I got your attention?
So, are you actually curious or are you simply wondering the extent to which I’d go to up my blog’s open rates, or both? Lord knows, as both a hero for humanity’s cause and a believer in 100% transparency, I wouldn’t put it past me, either!
Except, this is not exactly that particular virginity story.
It still, however, is a tale of FIRSTS for me. And it also happens to include many dates, food, a bunch of long intimate conversations, and even though I didn’t get ghosted, breadcrumbed, or benched (or whatever the latest bad dating term is) during this particular tryst, I did, nonetheless, get let down.
NEVERTHELESS, this relationship wasn’t so much with one person, it was with a large…publication.
A few years ago, I was approached by a freelance writer who was looking for an executive life coach to help them lose weight. In turn, they would document the year long coaching process in a monthly column.
How exciting, right?
In my world, that certainly constitutes talking dirty to me. I mean, I get to make a difference for a human and have them write all about it? Fun! So, off we went. And over the next 12 months I did what I love to do and, yay, do best: I helped a human go deep and get deeply happy and crazy proud of themselves. I taught them to write dreams in every area of their life (not just their health/body). And deal head-on with their head, from their inner dialogue, to their bad theories and traits, to their haunting memories and lies, to the cornerstone of my methodology: Personal Integrity, the ability to keep a promise to themselves, aligning their head (plan), heart (dreams) and body (actions). And guess what? They not only lost eighty pounds, they got married.
Talk about a happy ending…for them. For me? Not so much. I mean, of course I was thrilled and proud of the difference I made with this human, but with the monthly column that came out, itself?
Turns out, I TOO learned a ton from each of the monthly columns. But not so much about coaching, but about how this type of magazine or narrative works. You see, each of their monthly columns ended up only discussing ONE kernel of what we did together. I started to notice a formula in what got published monthly: each column was one part new information, nine parts regurgitated information, working, I imagine, predictably well for their advertisers and addressed what they thought their readers could handle (which clearly is not to be mistaken with “Handel”). For example, in one column the writer described how before they were allowed to eat anything on my diet plan, they had to read the entire list of ingredients on the food’s packaging.
Is that bad advice?
No! But, the problem was that it wasn’t my advice, either. Especially given the fact that it would be especially hard to read labels on my particular plan. You know why? Because on my plan, you’re only allowed to eat fresh produce and straight protein.
There are no labels.
At first, I remember thinking, WTF (for fabrication!). But then I did something a tad more useful than WTF-ing, grumbling, and never trusting another writer again. I did what I have all my coaches and clients do. What’s that?
And not just begrudgingly get schooled when, um, you’re getting schooled anyway, BUT learn the right (as in higher) lesson. And not just learn it, teach it.
Here’s what I learned:
I want you to consider that there are two types of “magazines” or narratives in the world. Whether it’s an actual magazine, a newspaper, a book, a TV show, or even a type of conversation we have.
Type one is what I’d call “Easy on the I’s.”
These “magazines” or narratives, like the one I got into bed with, are easier on us humans. They use one basic formula: tell the readers, or viewers, or co-workers, or family members what they already know plus one new piece of information and call it a new article or a great meeting or a great dinner. They don’t push the envelope. They make us feel smart and educated. They dole out information slowly, spoon feeding its “readership” new information in small amounts, keeping us comfortable and feeling bigger than we are in comparison to the world at LARGE. It’s a version of social grease. It honors conversations that don’t go too deep or too intimate, and that keeps us playing dumb or feeling smarter than we are. That leaves us purposely naive, especially about deep and dark issues…you know, What environmental issues? What foster care system? Syria?
The second type of “magazine” or narrative, I’ve come to call “National Geographic.” Because, for fun, in bed my husband David actually reads National Geographic out loud to me and we both feel so awesomely dumb, it’s actually awesome. When anyone starts reading, viewing, listening to, or participating in a type 2 “magazine” or narrative, it’s pretty clear, pretty fast, how little we actually know about a whole lot. This type of “magazine” pushes the envelope, confronts us, and makes us feel, in a nanosecond, appropriately ill-informed, because, um, we are. And what kind of human likes to feel small or dumb about anything?
Certainly, not our kind.
But wouldn’t it be awesome if we were all the type of human that would be excited to go deep, to get schooled, to feel so dumb it’s not damaging, it’s delusion-breaking? I mean, come on, if you’re building a business, establishing relationships, growing humans, and impacting the planet, think about it, what type of “magazine” do you want to be? What type of meeting do you want to run? One where only one new piece of information is disseminated OR one where nothing dumb is being said, where no social grease is being spilled.
I imagine most of us would raise our hands for type 2: “National Geographic.”
Except, many of us are so busy trying to get along and stay comfortable that we don’t realize in order to get along, we are dumbing ourselves down. But it doesn’t have to be or stay that way. We can step up, stretch ourselves, and think smarter. @LaurenZander (Click to Tweet!)
Go deeper and ask ourselves type two questions like, If this was our last conversation with our parents, with our partners, with our boss, did we say everything? Or did we stay safely on the surface and were easy on the I’s.
Sure, social grease might rise to the top, but it also inevitably kills your WILD (as in fun and free) life.
P.S. Inner.U is a 12 session online course that gives you the tools to hack into your own life, hone your dreams, and have every last thing you want in the areas that matter most to you: CAREER, MONEY, LOVE, TIME, FAMILY, and HEALTH. Do this life thing better from wherever, whenever.
Lauren Handel Zander is the Co-Founder and Chairwoman of Handel Group®, an international corporate consulting and life coaching company. Her coaching methodology, The Handel Method®, is taught in over 35 universities and institutes of learning around the world, including MIT, Stanford Graduate School of Business, NYU, and the New York City Public School System. Lauren is also the author of Maybe It’s You: Cut the Crap, Face Your Fears, Love Your Life (Published by Hachette Book Group, April 2017), a no-nonsense, practical manual that helps readers figure out not just what they want out of life, but how to actually get there. She has spent over 20 years coaching thousands of private and corporate clients, including executives at Vogue, BASF, and AOL. Lauren has been a featured expert in The New York Times, BBC, Forbes, Women’s Health, Dr. Oz, and Marie Claire and she is a regular contributor to Businessweek and the Huffington Post. Click here to schedule a 30-minute consultation with Handel Group.
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