“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ” ~ John F. Kennedy
“Talk is cheap.” ~ Anonymous
Today’s post has come about in part after watching a good friend be deeply wounded and disillusioned by the bullying actions of some people who loudly proclaim themselves as ‘enlightened and spiritual’.
Another friend is considering walking away from their life’s passion because of the vicious and mean-spirited ‘critique’ (it wasn’t constructive criticism, it was a poisonous personal attack) from an instructor at an invitation-only Master Class intended to guide emerging artists in front of a public audience at a large gallery. The instructor used my friend to make themselves look good and to extract a laugh or two from the crowd. The attack left my friend floundering in self-doubt, shame and humiliation, suffering anxiety attacks and questioning everything they’d previously held as true.
Most of the people I know who are incredibly good at what they do are also among the most humble, no matter their what field of endeavour. They sit in their integrity. They acknowledge their ability as fact, but have little need to bang their own drum because they are busy being actively engaged in the things that define them. As the saying goes, they walk their talk.
The yoga teacher who awakens each day to perform her personal meditation, pranayamas and asanas before eating her healthy yogini breakfast and getting ready for her classes. Who then comes home to eat her healthy dinner and concludes her day with more yoga, as an integral part of her daily life and philosophy.
The business mentor who has had years of experience building and running successful organisations, and who continues to sit on the Board of Directors of profitable companies.
The artist who still attends classes and workshops, and considers themselves constantly evolving; working on their craft even though they are at the top of their field and lauded by their peers.
Whether you are looking to form a relationship, seek employment or learn something new (and especially if you’re a starry-eyed beginner), listen with your eyes. Don’t be seduced by spin. Don’t be sucked in by wild claims and promises. When we are eager and ready to begin the journey, our enthusiasm often nudges our discernment over into a corner.
Eagerness and newness make us all vulnerable. And sadly, I’ve seen many a beginner derailed because the people they put faith in to guide them on their journey trampled and stamped out that fledgling flame. Or didn’t give them the tools they need to have that promised ‘success’, and then put it all back on the learner when they fail. “Oh well,” they say, “you mustn’t want it enough, you don’t have the ability, your attitude’s all wrong.”
There are so many self-proclaimed ‘guru’s’ out there. Who do you trust? How do you work out who can actually support your growth?
Word of mouth is a great place to start.
Trust your intuition.
And look for validity of the person’s abilities or claims. Do they walk their talk? Are they respected within their industry or profession? Do they have a public track record? Do their ACTIONS align with their mouth?
The ‘Law of Attraction Wealth Creation Coach’ who has a mountain of debt and lives on credit cards? Maybe not your best bet.
The ‘Parenting Expert’ who has never had children of their own, or even had them in their home for any length of time. Really?
The ‘Write a Best-Seller Workshop’ run by the person who has never been published. Perhaps someone who has already walked the path you want to walk would have more concrete advice to share with you.
Even more than that, are they a person you can respect? Do they have the sort of values and habits you aspire to? Do they treat others well? Are they leading by example?
In this age of social media it’s easy to set yourself up as an expert. In fact there are courses in how to do that!
Back in the day, experts had… wait for it… expertise. And expertise was hard won through experience.
There’s no magical pill or quick fix in this life that is going to take you from the bottom to the top of your particular mountain. We all have our own path to walk, and everyone has something to teach us, whether that’s through a positive or a negative experience.
The people ahead of you in the climb up your mountain will have valuable insights to share based upon their own journeys. Those insights can save you time, move you ahead more quickly, and help you hone your own skills and talents. So be an active player in your own development. Use your discernment. Do your homework. Make sure they really are higher up that mountain, and not someone standing at the bottom with a giant megaphone and some smooth-talking words…
Take on board what resonates for you, and leave the rest behind.
Above all, don’t take it all too seriously. Life is an adventure – a big messy glorious adventure. And that’s a beautiful thing.