I love Glennon Doyle’s take on advice, which is basically: Don’t give it.
Even when people ask for advice, she says, what they really want is to be heard. So ask good questions, listen, and give love instead.
Yet I’m also a sucker for a good modern advice column, such as Dear Sugar or Ask Polly.
But … the great thing about those columns is that they tell stories more than they give advice, right? The authors open up about their lives, and by doing so, they free us to see our own lives differently.
So let me tell you a short story about my own life, and see what it opens up for you.
As an author, speaker, and coach, I get a lot of questions about how to make decisions and trust one’s intuition and inner knowing.
(If this resonates with you, keep an eye out for my next email; I’m making something new about exactly that topic!)
Since I’m working on this new offering for you, I’ve been keeping my eyes and ears open. When I set the intention to be of service to you, the universe sends me things to help me do that.
And a few weeks back, help came in the form of a flyer in our family’s mailbox.
It was an advertisement for the local branch of a national fitness center chain, and it looked like this:
(The text reads: Join now. 25 cents down, $10 a month. No commitment. Deal ends Nov 13th.)
When I saw this, I let out a sound that was half-laugh and half-cry. I felt a big emotional response to this seemingly-innocuous gym flyer.
I showed it to my husband, Jonathan. “Look at this,” I said. “I can’t even.”
He raised his trademark eyebrow, inviting me to carry on.
“I mean … this just … I feel … this makes me sad and mad. Smad, to quote Sookie on Gilmore Girls.”
It was hard for me to express it at first, but then I had it. “I’m smad because … this is a business model that is built around people not showing up.
If everyone who joined actually went to the gym, this place probably wouldn’t make it. They wouldn’t be able to keep up with the demand for use.
It’s a business model built around people not keeping their word to themselves.
And on one level, I get the appeal of that. It makes sense to cash in on the human tendency to avoid the discomfort that comes with building your strength.
But that’s the opposite of the business I want to build, because it’s the opposite of the world I want to live in.”
Jonathan nodded, and I knew he understood. He’s an avid weightlifter who has taught me about strength in every sense of the word.
“I’m going to take a picture,” I said to him. “I’m going to write about this flyer.”
So here I am, with you now, keeping that promise. Even though a part of me would rather be reading in bed, it’s important that I keep showing up here and giving to you.
That flyer evoked a big response in me because it showed me that – to paraphrase Gandhi – I must BE the change I wish to see.
I want to be around people who live with integrity. People who make careful commitments to themselves and others, and then KEEP them. So that’s how I need to show up in my own life.
So: Here I am. I had a commitment to write to you today, and I’m doing that, even though my schedule shifted because I took extra time to welcome a lovely new coaching client this afternoon (hooray!)
It would have been easy to renege on this email. Frankly, I’m in need of a shower and there are dishes in the sink and I do need to step away from this laptop and rest.
All of that to say: We’re all human. And when the unexpected happens, sometimes we do need to change course and adjust our commitments accordingly.
If our little daughter had been ill this evening, for example, I would have shifted my “commitment allegiance” in a split second and shown up wholeheartedly to care for her.
But she’s sleeping peacefully. And so I get the privilege of connecting with you now.
This is what I’m taking a stand against: NO commitment.
No commitment is the easy way out.
No commitment is not going to get you where you want to go.
No commitment is not what love does.
Love shows up. Love commits.
If I had to give one piece of advice, it would be this: Don’t take my advice.
But DO take your own. Do make commitments, and honor them. When you say you’ll do something, do it. When you say you’ll be somewhere, be there.
And then watch what opens up for you.
Yours with love and gratitude,