… to the one person who you are least likely to listen to. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how potent, how perfect a message is. If the wrong person for you is conveying it, there’s a pretty excellent chance that you’re not going to pay attention. And even if you do (pay attention), you’ll likely listen with your mouth: that is to respond rather than to absorb and understand. Not to worry. It happens to all of us. And you’re certainly no lesser for reacting to the messenger versus absorbing the message. It’s a great reminder that everyone isn’t for everybody.
Not that it’s stopped the self-help guru du jour from trying to contort themselves into a shape that looks most like all things to all people. The truly gifted ones understand that this is folly, and that it’s a better idea to gauge response and shape approach and messages accordingly versus yelling from the rooftops that everyone ought to listen.
Take Tony Robbins (and my reaction to him). His way is aggressive and he demands that you stop whining, get up, and get it together. He’s been doing it for longer than a little bit, and it’s worked out very well for him. When I first learned about Robbins decades ago, my reaction to him was visceral. I strongly disliked his tactics and was mystified about why anyone would want to be yelled at by him, particularly considering his physical height and breadth. I wrote him off years ago, until one day I watched the documentary ‘I Am Not Your Guru.’
I set aside my assumptions and judgement, and just observed. Some things still held true: he got in peoples faces, he yelled at them, he forced them to act (whether or not they were particularly prepared for that action appeared to be a non-issue). But he also absorbed pain, let tears flow, and allowed people to express themselves and use those expressions as learning tools. The behind-the-scenes footage showed that he worked as hard as he demanded others worked. And there is the moment that stood out most for me, when he says “My way is not for everyone.” For that I respected him tremendously. Because it didn’t appear to come with the caveat you see some others who say the same, but add that you might likely fail without their help. That’s the sales pitch… that’s the hook. And that’s a shame.
Watching the documentary did not change my fundamental feelings about Robbins. But it did open me up to possibility. And maybe that was the point. Because years later (present day), when 2018 heard to everyone complain about 2017 (you remember all the complaints about the previous year), and was like HOLD MY BEER… Robbins was just what I needed. This year has proven to be a challenge both in business and personally. And just last week by chance, I was sitting in a movie theater waiting for the show to start. Who shows up in the previews but Tony Robbins, talking about how life is not a straight line… manage your disappointments… and if a setback makes you want to throw up your hands and give up… STOP WHINING AND GET OFF YOUR ASS AND GET IT TOGETHER!
I actually laughed out loud. Because it wasn’t what I wanted, and certainly not from the person I wanted. But the reality is it was exactly what I needed. Tony Robbins is not my Guru. But he was the best person to tell me the thing that was needed at that moment, because it worked.
Everyone is a teacher. Everyone is a student. There is no one of us who is more or less qualified to speak the truth in its purest form. The more we hold this notion, the less likely we are confuse the quality of the message with the qualifications of the messenger. The next time you come up against a message that isn’t packaged to your specifications, listen anyway. Listen with your ears. Listen with your heart. Don’t shoot the messenger. Listen to the message, rise from it, and let the rest fall.