I recently spent 9 months in therapy, the major goal of which was to stop judging (hating) myself. There were other goals. But that was the one that brought me.
On what would become my last visit, I recounted a story for my therapist. I told her about a recent experience catching up with a colleague I hadn’t seen in years. The colleague told me something very difficult that had happened to him. I felt empathy, but I also immediately knew that there was another side to the story. I didn’t judge it or pull it into my own life—as I would have before. I just released it.
When I told my therapist how great and non-forced this felt, she looked at me, and said: “Well, we either need new goals, or I think you’re probably finished here.” She was right: our work on that particular endeavor was through. I got there. Different thoughts were in my head now. I’m not sure how the thoughts got there, but I’m guessing it was through months of thinking and talking and writing and running and staring into space, and doing the thing only I can do for myself.
And through that mash-up of Judi-ness, it clicked.
The Rent on the Space
Human beings spend millions of dollars trying to find that click: that thing that releases us, flips a switch, opens a door and diverts us off the old track and onto a new one. And, oh my god, I wish I knew how that clicking happened. I wish I could diagram it. I know that with physical things, it’s about muscle memory and thresholds of strength. So “clicking” in gymnastics meant that I finally understood how to do that thing that helped me make it to the high bar with straight arms, because I had practiced it 77 times before.
But clicking in our psyches? That’s another matter. People hire, watch, read, follow, and—quite frankly—worship other people, all in the service of getting to the click. They want to be told a process or taught a no-fail framework for the clicking. There’s just one problem. No one can make it happen for you.
Tony Robbins can’t. Oprah can’t. Nate Silver can’t. Danielle LaPorte can’t. Sheryl Sandberg can’t. Seth Godin can’t (although if there was anyone on this list who could, it would probably be him). Rumi can’t. My therapist can’t. Your therapist can’t. I can’t.
Only YOU can. Only you can make the click happen.
It doesn’t mean that other people’s words can’t help. They can help a lot. It’s not really about doing what they say though; it’s about the space that opens up in you when you listen. For example, I gleaned a lot from Gay Hendricks’ The Big Leap. But when I got to the part where he promises if you say this specific mantra he has (in the specific mindset he has prescribed), it will do something for you, all I thought (in a non-judgmental way) was: bullshit. The essence of my Judi-ness is not believing anyone else has the exact thing for me. What makes me me is that I have to find it myself. All anyone else can give me is the space.
What you’re really investing in when you bring in other people is the rent on the space. Because as much as clicks need muscle memory, they also need a clear space. My Judi-ness needs space. Your you-ness needs space.
It’s only recently (like last week) that I connected this “space to click” idea with the idea that we are all contributors in the story economy. I saw Nilofer Merchant speak at Confab (a content strategy conference) last week. She’s 15 levels above fantastic, and the thing she talked about was “onlyness.” Each of us is standing in a place in the world where only we are standing, containing all of our past and all of our future thinking, she says. (This post, which also has her TEDx talk, summarizes nicely.)
The new economy is about people bringing their onlyness to the table, both the dark and the light, the loss and the optimism. It’s the diversity of voices and experiences and motivations that will build (and are building) the future. Instead of influence and solutions coming from the traditional centers of power, it will come from connected individuals working together.
If you already fundamentally get this in your head, then bring it to the world. And if you get it in the world, bring it to your head. Because it’s all the same.
It’s all the same.
The click has to start with you. You have to use your onlyness to find the click—to get to that light bulb moment. Every way you’ve ever done anything is what will get you to where you need to be. The story economy isn’t about being told the answer. It’s about making the answer from that space where you are.
(Or so I think.)
And . . . A Little Announcement
And on that note, I’ve been riding a luminous learning curve these past months, tweaking my own brand and bringing the new stuff I’m learning to my clients. ¬†I will be bringing you highlights, realizations, and lots of how-to from the growing body of new ideas in my brain.
But here’s the thing, I’m going to try something new with my newsletter. I’m going to keep writing my Wednesday newsletter. All of you wonderful people who email me and tell me that you wait for my newsletter, thank you. There is no way I could stop writing it. I pretty much want to write it all day long.
But I also want to do a better job with the nitty-gritty kind of content—the concrete how-to and actionable stuff (How do I write better web copy? How do I use my story? What’s the real deal with SEO and the changes Google is making?) But I can’t just dump it in the newsletter, because I want my newsletter to stay what it is: a space for exploring ideas and storytelling and inspiration and motivation and how things connect to other things in weird and cool ways. I’m not going to let bullet points invade it. I don’t want to even think about titling things based on keywords. But the reality is, that stuff does matter (I’ll be writing about it).
To that end, I will be sending out some additional posts on days other than Wednesday (just from time to time: definitely not every week). It will all live here under The Story Economy Blog.
I’m in a “try it and see phase.” So this is me trying it . . . and we’ll see.
Go be you.