Sampson: I’ve built something incredible, we’re working with world-class people and world-class clients. We’re the best at what we do, nobody can touch us. I’ve gotten us here and I’m steering this ship. I’m really smart, work insanely hard and yet, we’ve stalled. We’re not growing. I can’t see my own blind spots. Don’t know our next move. Can you help us? Can you help ME? Please, I’ll do anything.
Mentor: That depends. Are you open to receiving?
Sampson: I just asked for your help. Of course I am.
Mentor: Then, let’s begin.
+++ Months Pass+++
Sampson: Why isn’t anything changing? You said you’d help. But everything’s the same. I don’t understand.
Mentor: You came to me seeking help. You need it deeply. I was and still am open to giving it. You shared you were open to receiving it.
But your actions belie your words.
Your biggest blind spot is not the market, it’s not resources, ideas, or strategies. It is your own unwillingness to be vulnerable. To own the fact that, though you’ve gotten yourself here, at this moment in time, you don’t know what you’re doing or how to move forward. Until this changes, nobody can help you.
Sampson: But I asked you for help. How can you say I’m not vulnerable, open to receiving?
Mentor: What you ask for and what you’re open to are not the same.
I have shared ideas. I have brought others into your orbit far smarter and accomplished than I, willing and able to help. But every time we talk—you, me, and them—you stop listening and instead talk over us, our ideas and offers of help. Instead of receiving, you posture. And it’s become so automatic, you have no idea you’re doing it.
Understand, you do not do this because you are rude. Not because you’re ignorant. Not because you’re incapable. You are, in fact, immensely bright, kind, and capable.
You do this because what you are being offered is not coming from you.
You’ve been conditioned to believe, through no fault of your own, that you need to be the ONE who figures it all out. That if it doesn’t come from you, you will be perceived as weak. As unknowing. As incapable. This thought destroys you. You need others to feel you’re “on parity” with them.
So, instead of listening, learning and receiving, you talk. You posit. You rebuff. You revert to the illusion of strength and retreat to the blockade of false-confidence. You refuse to acknowledge the “new-ness” or validity of any proffer.
And, in doing so, you push all those who would line up to help you away without even realizing you’re doing it. You punish their arrival by raising your shield. Leaving them to bang their heads against an armor that protects you from the very thing you claim to seek. It’s incredibly frustrating to be asked for help, then refused a way to give it.
Sampson: So, are you saying all those people who have offered to help me over the years, but then abandoned me…that wasn’t about them, it was about me?
Mentor: I can’t speak for all people. But I can tell you, the people I gathered to help you who, most of whom have, using your words “abandoned” you, yes, they have all shared this reason.
When you first came to me, you acted on a moment of deep pain, you allowed yourself to be vulnerable and that led to a temporary openness to receiving help. Yet the moment it arrived, the fact that you needed it and the reality that accepting it would require you to own your own unknowing in the eyes of others terrified you. So you shut back down and defaulted to a show of bravado.
But maybe the most dangerous part is this. You don’t see it. You’re not even aware you’re doing it. So you keep asking for help. Wondering why nothing changes. And why people keep saying they’ll help, then walking away from you.
Asking and receiving are two very different things.
I know this dynamic so well. Because…
I have been you.
I am you.
I will be you again.
I am drawn to create. I am both burdened and gifted with ego. I am immensely human and sensitive. I struggle with my need to feel strong, to have all the answers and not be seen by others as “lesser.” I, too, have armor.
But I have also learned, very much the hard way…
There comes a time when you need to stand naked and silent in the room.
To not just lower the shields, but keep them down. To own the value and truth of other peoples’ ideas and efforts. To not discount them simply because they’re not coming from you. To stand in a place of deep vulnerability, not as a show weakness, but of strength.
Sampson: So, I need to come clean to the world about where I am?
Mentor: No. Start with a single person, or a small group of people who are there for the right reasons. Who love you, respect you, and want to help. It is often brutally painful to remain in this raw, exposed place long enough for true change to happen. Yet, sometimes…
Naked and silent is the place where your next better self takes root.
And where the thing you most want to grow begins to blossom. Or, in your case, come back to life.
So, I ask you again.
Are you open to receiving? To standing naked and silent?
If so, the real work begins.
If not. I wish you well.
Jonathan Fields is a serial-entrepreneur, business strategist, speaker and author. His latest book is Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel For Brilliance. Fields writes about performance-mindset, innovation, leading and entrepreneurship at JonathanFields.com