How we move through life
During the 2008 presidential debates, the Wall Street Journal reported that Michelle Obama told Barack to get out of his head and into his body-to sit back and let his feelings flow. In the language of Whole Body Consciousness (WBC) that I have sketched out in my book, What's Your Body Telling You, I would say that Michelle catalyzed the Body Intelligence (BQ for short) of the future President of the United States.
Sometimes called somatic intelligence, BQ is crucial for many reasons. A growing body of research shows that: 1) information is stored in our physical bodies at a cellular level, 2) every thought and feeling creates a physiological effect that is etched into our cells, and 3) this information exerts a profound yet largely subliminal influence on our perceptions, behaviors and experience. The best move you can make in many situations is to get out of your head and into your body. In fact, the results you produce may depend on it. I have clients who have turned their careers around on a dime simply by becoming aware of how they approach situations, not just mentally, but physically as well.
How about you? Do you race after what you want, huffing and puffing, as if a Spanish bull is charging you? Or is your style more the "sit back and let it come to me" variety? Depending on what is at stake, you may do a combination of both, shifting from yin to yang as needed.
I often help clients increase their awareness in this regard with the sperm-egg metaphor. This tool has proven mighty useful in high-impact situations such as delivering a key sales presentation, making an investment decision, or going on an especially delightful first date.
We start by considering the great father to us all: the sperm. Along with 300 million of his compatriots, he blasts out of the gate in a do-or-die race for survival. Then, he sees an entire swath his fellow sperm get napalmed by vaginal acids. Like soldiers running through acid rain, the remaining 40% swim full out, Michael Phelps-like, hoping to stake a claim on the egg. When they get close, they find the cervix barred by a massive sign: KEEP OUT. Only the fittest survive this final crossing and continue toward the prize. Then, at last, the champion spermatozoon merges with the egg. Whew!
Now let's consider the great mother of us all, the ovum. She's in no rush to do anything, although she has an equally strong mandate to merge with the sperm. The egg's approach is quite opposite the sperm-she simply sits back and makes her selection by sending out a membrane to draw in the wiggly one of her choosing. Once her membrane fuses with his, she draws him inside. Viola! No stress, no hurry... she might as well ask her suitor: "what charging bull?"
I hope the above metaphor hasn't triggered any birth trauma (or, more precisely conception trauma) because that is not my intent. What we're after here is awareness-learning about the body's rhythms and vibes so we can get a handle on the super-savvy mojo that comes with increasing our BQ (body-intelligence quotient).
"But all men act like sperm, and women tend to be receptive like eggs!" I often hear. But when we look deeper, we can see that these are not gender-specific Mars-Venus traits, so much as energetic signatures. For example, my mother has always been, and always will be primarily sperm-like in her approach to life. At the age of ninety, she can still be seen running off in a frenzied "wait for no one" dash. Whether she's driving to the deli for a corned beef sandwich, heading off to the senior center to teach canasta, or jetting off to the neighbors on a charity mission, she's all sperm-energy from sun up to sun down when she finally plotzes down on the sofa. My dad, on the other hand, was 100% egg-energy. With a quintessential laid-back attitude, he took everything in stride. If he wanted something, we never heard about it. He just sat around quietly, entertaining himself in his mind's eye, seeing his life unfold exactly as he wanted. Long before anyone named it "the law of attraction" my dad had a keen sense of the essential truths Rhonda Byrne has popularized as "The Secret."
I've been watching how I play out the sperm/egg dynamic for decades. Twenty years ago, after I was named "top sales rep of the year" at a company convention, Brian Merriman, then Vice President of Konica Corporation, pulled me aside and asked: "What's your secret?"
"It's my yoga practice, applied to business. First, I'm in my yang energy, doing whatever it takes to make an appointment. But then, once I've landed the appointment, I shift to yin and just sit back and relax." He smiled, and never asked me a personal question again. What I didn't say then, but do say now-especially during executive trainings-is this: learning to shift from sperm-consciousness to egg-consciousness at will is not only a heck-of a savvy skill; it's a sure-fire way to increase your bottom line.
For example, consider how this played out when I met with the buyer at AT&T. On our very first appointment, she said, "You're not like those other sales reps who come in here and lean across my desk to talk at me as if hunting prey. Nobody has ever asked about myself, and then just sat back to listen. On the other hand, you were more than a little aggressive on the phone when you were trying to get an appointment!" We got a good chuckle out of that one. It was one of my early lessons in the power of the sperm-egg dynamic. I went from wiggling and swimming with all the sperm energy I could muster, to relaxing on my egg-like throne, waiting for the orders to roll in. And they did... I received a purchase order for 98 top-of-the line machines the very next day!
If you want to see how a true master uses the sperm-egg dynamic to achieve his goals, just watch Obama in action. I so admired how he handled himself during the campaign; whether taking an overhead blow from an opponent during a presidential debate, or fielding criticism about his past associations, our president is a master of the form. He knows when to act with the precision of a arrow heading toward its target, and when to sit back in his bad-ass egg self-centered, confident, and totally on purpose. Now there's a man who knows how to shift from active to passive with grace and panache.
Michelle Obama nailed it: when we are aware of our body rather than stuck in our mind, we are more present and more effective. The key is to stay in an integrative conversation with your mind and body. Your body has its own intelligence, a natural brilliance that simply knows the deeper truths your mind alone cannot grasp.
So next time you're in a high-stakes situation, whether you are in a presidential debate or having lunch with your dream date, tune into your inner voice and ask: "Am I moving through this moment like a sperm, or like an egg?"