There I was, sitting in my living room, downloading my favorite weekly audio horoscope.
And this week’s question came…
“This week, Lisa, I want you to get really clear on the difference between knowing what your soul wants… or what your ego wants.”
I found myself mentally asking my favorite astrologer: Uhhh… I teach this stuff. I already know how to do this. Wanna give me a more advanced question there, dude?
But, as it usually is for things that “seem” basic, I knew there was a deeper dive being requested of me here. Not because I’m not doing what my soul wants. And not because I have no awareness of when my ego is in play.
But because the ego is such a tricky little sucker, even after all these years of doing this work, I am still finding nuances of how my ego pretends to be my soul and tricks me. My ego will actually sometimes pose as “my guides” to keep me from doing stuff my soul is pulling me to, especially if it’s something BIG. Crazy, right?
This work of pulling out the authentic soul leader within us from the wreckage of our ego’s societal indoctrinations is never-ending. And the higher you climb, the more visible you become, the more nuanced and trickier the ego becomes.
Having a deep connection with your soul and knowing when it’s your soul speaking vs. your ego is everything when it comes to building a legacy with your work.
Recently, I’ve been talking to and witnessing a lot of entrepreneurs, (friends or current/potential clients) artists, and other visionaries who are being massively shaken up, and are questioning why they started their businesses/projects in the first place.
Everywhere I turn, I see people whispering that the things that used to “work” to get people to buy products, programs and offerings don’t seem to be working. People who built million dollar businesses are struggling to sell programs and are slashing their teams in half.
And then every year, at this time of year, the posts about next year’s trends begin. They throw everyone into a frenzy. Cause people who have good instincts to doubt themselves. I see business models and great creations thrown out the window to make way for the new trends. Things that were working!
In the glitz and the glam of the trends, we tend to forget about the most important basics. They are timeless classics, that, if you focus on, will help you outlast all the trends and build a long lasting legacy.
Want to know what they are? Let’s dive in.
The Dark Night Of The Soul
I’ve seen, over the years, friends and colleagues start a business or a movement and then a year or two later, there is a common existential crisis that comes about…
Person builds successful venture, becomes “famous” and suddenly, has a mini crisis/dark night of the soul… questions who their real friends are, questions what they are doing and whether or not they want to do it anymore, sometimes drops off the face of the earth or moves to Bali, Thailand, Latin America… or insert-country-here.
Then said person comes back with a whole new plan, whole new business or… doesn’t come back at all and quits.
If you’re a creative or a business owner, you’ve worked hard to build your vision. And I know you’re born to be the trendsetter, not the trend-follower. So there’s no way in hell you’re going to want to let your vision crash and burn.
But in our ever-expanding desire to grow and impact more people, we get busy running our businesses, wrapped up in all the trends, the publicity, the visibility, the systems and the mechanics, the latest “techniques”… and we sometimes forget about the most important thing we need to make sure we build a legacy, not a one hit wonder.
That’s where that genius question from my horoscope comes in.
Are you doing this from your soul or your ego?
The Crucial Difference between Soul and Ego
Now, I’m not raggin’ on the ego. I think the ego gets way too much hate these days.
There is nothing wrong with having an ego.
And you can try to eliminate your ego all you want, but that would be a futile (and stupid) pursuit. Your ego is an integral part of you. If it weren’t for your ego, you wouldn’t bathe, dress, or take care of yourself every day.
Ego helps you plan things out, figure out your game plan. Weigh decisions.
So we need the ego. It’s not inherently “bad.”
But relying on your ego to call the shots entirely is not a good idea. The ego is delicate and fickle. It always wants validation and approval because it wants to belong, so that it survives.
Ego will tell you to ignore the voice of your truth in favor of doing what’s safe and what will make you more likeable. It will dismiss that nudge you have to create something new in your business, something bigger. It will tell you to “position” yourself in that room full of experts so that you are “seen as an expert” instead of just being your damn awesome self.
The ego will tell you to write a blog post that will get people to worship you, fall in love with you and look at you as their guru, instead of a post that deeply serves your people.
The ego needs external validation. And it will trap you in an endless cycle of seeking more and more validation. It will never be enough.
In short — the ego is NOT what you want driving the soul of your business.
It’s not the foundation upon which you want to build your empire.
Building a business from your ego is like building a 65-floor building on top of a cardboard box.
That thing is going to crash, sooner or later, and it won’t be pretty.
Because the nature of the Universe is one of unconditional love.
And you bet your butt that if you’re out of alignment with your Soul and ignoring it because you’re unknowingly caught up in the trends your ego loves, the Universe (which is really You) will come along and do whatever it needs to do to make sure you are doing what is aligned with your Soul’s purpose.
That’s what happened to me many, many years ago when I almost quit my business. That’s what has happened to many, many artists, entrepreneurs visionaries, celebrities etc.. It’s why everyone is all aflutter about marketing techniques “no longer working.”
They no longer work for those who weren’t aligned with their soul when using them. They no longer work for people who just want “plug and play” business models. They no longer work for those who aren’t going to put their Soul first when it comes to building and expanding their businesses.
That’s what creates the Dark Night of the Soul. The big shakeup that happens to align you with your Soul once and for all.
How to wake up from the nightmare
So how do we avoid this altogether? How do we make sure our work lasts, instead of crashing down every few years because we aren’t soul-driven?
First, some of it is unavoidable. It’s part of the spiritual path of building a business.
Second, ask yourself the question my horoscope asked me that morning.
When you’re truly committed to always asking yourself, “Does my Soul want this or does my ego want this?”, you will always be peeling back more layers of yourself and reaching deeper levels of truth within yourself that you never even knew were there.
You will find your blind spots so that you don’t make decisions in your business from a blind spot, but from your soul.
It’s a calibration that often needs support from a master coach who knows how to help you calibrate this (ahem, that’s why I do what I do). When you get to high level of leadership, that is when you most need it because at this level our ego’s trickery hides itself behind all the personal development and spiritual work we’ve done.
And in this process of calibration there is a natural upheaval that happens, just like soil needs to be upheaved to be aerated, so things grow better.
The key to it all is to make sure that your ego is in service to your Soul and not the other way around.
But just in case your ego does get out of control and you do find yourself crashing down based on the faulty foundation your ego provided when you built your vision/business… just in case you’re freaking out because nothing seems to be working like it used to anymore.
Here’s how to build a legacy that lasts, instead of a one-hit-wonder:
1) Get real and get fed up.
The night I “quit” my business many years ago, I let myself get fed up with the way that I was doing things. I had to get honest with myself about where I was full of BS. Where what I was teaching was not what I was actually doing. Where I was lying to myself.
I had to get really fed up with compromising the things I longed to say to my community because I was afraid of losing half of my audience or becoming less popular when I started to speak what my Soul really wanted me to say.
At first, I did lose some subscribers. My income dipped down a little for 3 months.
But at the end of those 3 months, five years ago, my business suddenly exploded again.
All of the people who weren’t aligned with me anymore, went away.
And I was left with a roaring fan base of people who kept emailing me and thanking me. For the first time in a long time, someone was actually telling the truth that they had been starving to hear. For the first time someone wasn’t trying to be their guru or looking at them as some number on their list, but instead was being real with them.
So, get angry. Get real about where you are. Let that anger fuel you to never let your ego rule your business again.
2) Commit to unveiling your blind spots.
We all have stuff that is in our blind spot. Yes, even you who has the multi-million dollar business. Even you who has every priestess certification in the world. Even you who channel divine beings or were in the Inc 500.
And if we refuse to look at or admit that we have blind spots, they can rule us unconsciously, influence many of our actions without us realizing it and in general make us miserable in the long run. Which means your business won’t last either. Kind of need a happy CEO for a business to last, you know?
I see a lot of very successful business owners saying “well, I’ve arrived, I don’t need a coach anymore.” I think that’s a grave mistake.
No matter how many seven figure months we pull in, how many personal development courses we’ve taken or how many priestess certifications we have, there is always something we don’t see. Coaches have coaches because it’s easy to see someone else, but it’s harder to see ourselves. For this reason, I have never been without a coach.
As we start to gain more influence, our actions hold greater responsibility.
People out there are hanging on your words and taking them to heart. They will take action based on what you say. So make sure that when you’re guiding people, it’s not from the blind spots of your ego and instead, from the liberated Soul.
When you’re in a position of leadership or expertise, you have the potential to cause great damage if your ego is driving you but you’re unaware of it. (That’s what often happens with cult leaders or self help gurus who end up killing 5 people in a sweat lodge, claiming they are God himself and not noticing the writhing, dying participants on the floor).
3) Surround yourself with a no-BS tribe
I have several people I trust deeply, who I know have my best interest at heart and believe in me. I check in with them several times a month.
If I notice my ego starts to think I’m better than someone else or my ego gets upset that someone didn’t pick me for an interview… or I start to think I need to “position myself” to seem like hot shit, instead of being the hot stuff I already am… or I start thinking I need 2,000 likes on a FB status for me to feel good… or for this “influencer” to like me…
I simply text these people and out myself.
And I’ve given them strict instructions to always tell me, with love if they ever see me being an egotistical maniac. It works amazingly well and keeps my ego in check.
People who want to agree with me all the time make me weary.
I want to surround myself with people who will challenge me to be my truest, most authentic, most high-potential self. Those people will piss me off sometimes when they challenge me because I might be CONVINCED I’m fully soul-led in that moment. But because I trust them to see me well, I always end up listening and learning from them.
4) Understand that this is not about you, it’s about THEM.
As good as it might feel to your ego to get the accolades, the invites to VIP parties, to have the photos that show you’re hanging with the “in crowd,” or the emails from raving fans…
none of that means anything.
What matters is this: are you serving the world with your highest, most unfettered gifts?
Are you helping the people that need what you have to offer?
It’s not about Facebook likes. It’s about the faces of the people you are helping and whether or not you are actually helping them transform their lives.
It’s not about writing that blog post to get everyone to think you’re amazing.
It’s about who your work is helping and if it’s actually helping.
If you don’t care about the people you serve, your business won’t last. People always wise up and find out. Always.
5) Be real and don’t lie
If you haven’t mastered something, be real about it with your community. Don’t pretend you’re a master of something that you aren’t. Don’t talk with authority about things you haven’t experienced. Don’t say you got hand-picked by Arianna Huffington to be on HuffPo when you know you submitted yourself for that.
Be transparent. It’s good business practice because it builds trust.
And hint, hint: people who trust you want to buy things from you.
People who cover up that they are out of alignment or lie to the communities they serve, create a personal hell for themselves. Because you know that you are getting the attention of your community based on a total lie.
Eventually you start to feel trapped in this lie that your community believes about you, and then you start to resent the people who keep you in business. Because you have to be someone you’re not to keep up the lie.
If you don’t know how to be in successful relationships, don’t say you do.
If you are in debt, don’t admonish people for having it. You get the picture.
Truth is — there are a lot of trends. There always will be. They will come, they will go, they will come back again.
I’ve heard “email is dead!!!” about a million times in the last 8 years.
I’ve seen people turn their noses up at me still using Facebook instead of only using Instagram. I’ve overheard snooty comments about people who still have 1:1 clients being “so basic” made by people who make a million dollars selling online products.
There are a lot of wounded egos trying to get validation and love in business communities. I see it at every event I go to.
In the end, what will always keep your business outlasting all of the ups and downs of the “market” are the basics of integrity and alignment, as I outlined above.
If you focus on driving your work from the Soul and on the “basics” I mentioned above, you will be building a true legacy, instead of a one-hit-wonder.
Remember the band that sang “Come on Eileen”?
Do you actually remember many other songs they wrote that were as big as that song?
Most people don’t.
Don’t end up like that band by letting your ego rule the show.
Your work is too important for that.