Ep. #42: Living Your Dream Part VI: Finding the Third Way

How many times have you thought to yourself, there has to be an easier way? The good news is that there IS an easier way, and it’s called the third way. The third way is achieved through a process called integration, which removes the detritus from your business and life, enhances your focus, and eliminates the competition. Listen to this episode to learn how it works.

TRANSCRIPT:

Welcome to Rich & Thin™ Radio, the only podcast that helps you get more bank with less bulk. Today’s episode is the sixth in our series on living your dream in 2019, and today we’re talking about finding the third way. What is the third way? It’s the way you’re not seeing right now. What I mean by this is that when you want something but you don’t have it, the reason for that is you’re at a fork in the road, you’re confronted with two separate paths, but neither road seems super appealing.

I’m seeing so many examples of this lately, I can’t even tell you. Here are a few:

  • You can either deprive yourself on a diet, or you can be fat.
  • You can be happy or you can be thin.
  • You can earn money or you can be a good parent.
  • You can earn money or you can have a life.
  • You can be rich or you can be ethical.
  • You can have a business or a relationship.
  • You can start over in a new business, or continue on in your old business that doesn’t fit you very well anymore.

When confronted with these unacceptable either/or choices, what generally happens is initially, we head down one path and then find the going is just too tough, so we backtrack and then go down the other for a bit, and that’s pretty awful, too, so we then turn back on that one and try the other one for a while. We can vacillate like this for a lifetime, but often we get tired before the end of our lives, and that’s when we find ourselves far from the end and stuck at the trailhead. We stay right where we are, and this is when we say things like, “I don’t want to lose weight” or “I don’t want to earn more money.”

I guess it’s possible that for some of us, these vows of poverty or vows of obesity are truly reflective of what we want, but more often than not, if I ask, “Really? If a genie just fell out of the sky right now, and you could be rich and you could be thin, you wouldn’t take it?” then the truth is revealed.

Because the truth is that we do want it. We would like to be thin. We would like to be rich. We just don’t see an acceptable path for getting there. This is why today I want to discuss finding the third way, and to illustrate how it works, I’d like to share with you a story principle that I call integration. Some people call it synthesis, but I call it integration and I’m going to explain why I make that distinction in a minute. First, I want to share three examples of integration so you can how it works.

The Story Principle No One is Talking About: Integration

The first example of integration is from the movie Miss Congeniality. This is a movie that came out about two decades ago. Sandra Bullock stars and she plays an awkward-looking but dedicated FBI agent with glasses and frizzy hair who wears sweat pants and beats up boys and, not surprisingly, is challenged in romantic matters. Women don’t like her very much, either.

Then she’s assigned to go undercover as a contestant in a nationwide beauty pageant. I think it’s supposed to be the Miss America pageant but the movie has a different name for this pageant. And here, she undergoes a transformation into a beauty queen. The sweat pants are swapped for glittery evening gowns. Her hair is blown out, she’s all made up, and she stops thinking about federal law enforcement and starts eating celery and speaking in beauty-pageant clichés and learning how to connect with the girls in the pageant rather than wrestle them into submission.

So notice these two diametrically opposed modes of operation: her first way of living is tough-guy federal agent, no femininity to be seen, even though she’s not actually a guy. The second way is girly, girly, girly. If you didn’t know her before this beauty pageant transformation, you’d have no idea this woman could drop-kick a bank robber.

In each of these modes, she struggles, because she’s not using all of her strengths and she’s subverting important aspects of herself. The result, in both scenarios, is a bit of a perversion. She’s not as attractive as she could be, and here I’m not talking about her looks. I’m literally meaning that she doesn’t attract people to her in the way that she could. She’s somewhat effective at attraction—she’s not a complete pariah, but she could be a whole lot more effective, and the reason she isn’t is because often it seems that there’s something missing about her, or something she’s subverting, and the result is that she often seems goofy or inauthentic or strange.

This is true when she’s operating in either mode, when she’s either an FBI agent or a beauty queen, with no connection between these two modes.

And then what happens? In every story, there’s an all-is-lost moment where the character is worse off than before. In this movie, it’s when Sandra’s character loses her job as a federal agent because her boss tells her to quit, and she won’t do it. This is the death of her old identity as the federal agent who subverts her femininity and all other aspects of her life. What happens when she does this? By stepping out of the old identity, by shedding that weight, she’s able to create a completely new identity that’s completely her own and far more effective. She’s a kick-ass federal agent AND she’s embracing her feminine side and she looks amazing, and this is when we see all of her skills and strengths become integrated, and this is when she suddenly and very predictably begins getting everything she wants. She gets the guy, she gets the admiration of the other women at the pageant, she takes down the criminal ring that’s threatening the women in the pageant, a classic moment of integration you see in the movie is when she’s onstage at the pageant, and the host asks her, “What would you do to save the world” or some similarly cliched beauty-pageant question, and she says, “Tougher sentences for repeat parole violators.”

Do you see how unique this answer is? No one else but this character would answer this question in this context in this way, and she is able to do this because she is fully herself, holding nothing back, and the most attractive state. This is also very predictably when she become successful at everything where she was previously struggling.

You see exactly the same thing happen in the movie Legally Blonde. Initially, Elle Woods is a blonde bimbo who’s obsessed with beauty products. And then she’s a hard-studying law student who’s making grades and getting prestigious internships. In the final act, to win her big murder case, she has to draw on both sides of herself, the beauty-obsessed side and the legal side, and only by doing this is she able to win her case. Only this character would know that a murder suspect who’s using “getting a perm and then going upstairs to take a shower and wash her hair” as an alibi is lying, because only this character would know that no woman would go to the trouble of getting a perm and then wash it out of her hair, because that would have destroyed the curls that she is so clearly exhibiting during the murder trial. Her hair is so curly during the trial there’s no way she destroyed her perm by washing it out.

By embracing both sides of herself, the legal side and the beauty-obsessed side, Elle Woods wins her case, graduates at the top of her class, ditches the boyfriend who seems a little dull and limited now, gets engaged to the great guy, and gets the amazing job offer. All of this happens when she fully steps into herself and embraces all sides of herself. This is what integration is—when you achieve it, you operate at the highest level, because you’re drawing on all of your strong suits, and everything you’ve ever known and ever learned, and it’s when you are your most authentic, because you’re unapologetic about doing all of this, and you’re your most unique, because no one else shares your combination of skills, education, strengths, and interests. Integration is where you start kicking ass and taking names.

Using Integration to Create Your Own Success

Why does this matter in a podcast for entrepreneurs? Too many reasons to count, but today I’ll discuss three.

Integration Incorporates the Best Things About You

The first reason is that I want to emphasize that transformation, becoming your fully integrated, most successful self, doesn’t involve leaving everything good about yourself on the curb as your drive away into some unknown future towards success.

This is something clients always worry about. Often, clients don’t want to change, they fear change and actively avoid it, because they think that achieving success requires them to leave behind the best parts of themselves. Why do they think this? Because they get sucked into the playbook that says that they must.

Consider my new, all-time favorite movie, the latest iteration of A Star is Born. It’s still playing in theaters, I think, and if you haven’t seen it yet, run don’t walk. And when you do, consider Lady Gaga’s character, Allie. When the movie opens, she is a brilliant but unrecognized songwriter. She covers other people’s songs, but she won’t sing her own because she feels so vulnerable about her physical appearance. She’s been told her nose is too big, she doesn’t look good enough, what have you. All the things that so many women–and in some cultures and professions, even men–are told, that keep them playing small and sitting on the sidelines. But then she gets over herself and she steps out, as the hero of every great story does, and she performs her amazing song to breathless audiences. She does this with vulnerability and intelligence, and the reception is amazing, but she’s not terribly polished. She’s an ingenue, not yet a star.

So then what happens? A snake-eyed manager, talented but cold and calculating, gets a hold of her and polishes her up, into a perversion of herself. This is when she leaves the gifted songwriter part of herself behind, and becomes something of a pop-star caricature. Her new manager tells her, we need to do something with your hair. Platinum, he suggests. He has her learning to dance for music videos, he’s backing her up with other dancers, she’s dressing differently. At first she resists, telling him that she’s worried that she’s leaving her talent and the best part of herself behind, but he assures her this is the way to go, and eventually, she’s wearing Alice-in-Wonderland type clothing and her hair is orange and she’s singing songs so vapid that the lyrics make you cringe.

The integration comes when she learns, towards the very end of the movie, how talented she really is, and then we see her one last time, singing a song that just rips your heart out. I don’t want to give too much away, but she follows in the footsteps of two of the great singers of our time–Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland in previous iterations of the movie A Star is Born—and Lady Gaga gives what in my mind is certainly an Oscar- and Grammy-winning performance and she does it as a completely complete version of herself. The orange hair is gone, as is the weird makeup, and she takes the stage as every inch of the songwriter and performer that she is, intelligent and vulnerable and hiding nothing, and she’s also risen to a new level of elegance in her appearance, signifying that she owns the stage now. She’s no longer an ingenue. Her appearance is polished, but it’s now couture, and not cartoonish. And this meld of the two best part of herself—the songwriter and the performer–represents the moment when she leaves obscurity, and she leaves pop-stardom, and she joins the tiny constellation of truly gifted stars who are going to hang in the sky for a very long time. Through integration, she becomes a star who will go down in history.

Notice what happens here: the gifted songwriter is always there. She’s not left on the curb. What’s left behind is the weight. The weight of doubt. The weight that she’s not good enough. The weight of worrying about her looks. The weight of societal expectation to do things the way every other star has done them, by dying their hair orange and dressing as a cartoon character. All of this stuff, this unnecessary stuff that’s holding her back, is what’s left on the curb. Now, it’s just her taking the stage with her intelligence and her vulnerability and her talent and what she has to say.

The transformation depicted in this journey from struggling ingenue to popstar cliché to full-fledged star is relevant to this show because this is also the process of creating a successful business. Initially she’s hiding, and then she’s imitating, and this is what so many struggling entrepreneurs do—they hide or imitate until they get tired or quit, or eventually, they become one of the few who manage to successfully hit upon an integrated version of themselves, and then they become successful. This is when they stop hiding and imitating, and they take everything about them that makes them unique and special and they blend it into something amazing and offer it up to a dazzled audience who can’t get enough.

So now I want you to notice something about entrepreneurship, when it’s really hard and when it’s not working. I mentioned in the first episode of this podcast that there is a concept called logistical weight that keeps entrepreneurs down and undermines their profitability. And I said that logistical weight is when we are struggling with the detritus in our lives. The detritus is when we feel scattered. It’s when we feel pulled in a million different directions. And I used the word detritus very deliberately, because detritus is what happens when something is disintegrated. If you take an explosive and insert it into a mountain and blow it up, you literally disintegrate the mountain, and detritus is the result. It’s all of the rubble and the little rocks from blowing up the mountain. And that’s the way a lot of us feel in our lives. We feel disintegrated because there are a lot of these little pieces, scattered around and commanding our attention. We have no focus. When you are disintegrated, your life feels this way. Your life as an entrepreneur feels this way, and your personal life, too. And integration is the concept that helps you end that feeling and get out from under logistical weight and move toward success.

Integration is where there’s no competition

So now the question is, how do you get there? When you are operating in an integrated fashion, it happens because you stop following the rules. You stop playing by the playbook. You ignore, “No, this is how you do it. Just do what I say and you’ll be fine.” And you stop hiding and imitating, you stop ignoring key features of your background and your strengths and your training and education and interests, and you become the best version of yourself.

This is also when you find that you have no competitors, because there’s no one like you. You own the field, because there’s simply no one else in it. There is no one else on your stage. It is just you, speaking your message to a dazzled audience.

This is key, because in a crowded marketplace, there are two ways to distinguish yourself: you can be better, or you can be different. Better often eats away at your profitability, because typically it means offering more than your competitors are offering, running yourself ragged, and doing it for less than what they’re charging. That is the profitability pitfall that comes from chasing better. But if you’re different, if there’s simply no one else who does what you do in the way that you do it because you’re drawing on all facets of your background and all of the things that are super fascinating to you, then there’s no stopping you.

Integration is where you earn more

So Integration is how you become different and it’s how you become unstoppable, and entrepreneurs who don’t get to do the really high-level work that they want to do, find that this is happening because they are dis-integrated. Struggling entrepreneurs are always starting over. They’re always leaving huge pieces of their backgrounds and their expertise in the past, and as a result they’re always playing small and leaving lots money on the table. I see examples of dis-integration everywhere that people are underearning, and it’s a problem that I help my clients solve. One is a personal trainer who’s also a causal coach and a professor of nutrition and an award-winning bikini competitor, but she was only selling personal training services. She was literally dis-integrated, and that disintegration was obliterating her income potential. Another is a certified weight-loss coach and effortlessly thin actress who coached herself out of the obesity-causing dieting and overeating cycle, but who was doing causal coaching in a field completely unrelated to weight loss. This never works to achieving profitability and your maximum satisfaction as an entrepreneur. Ignoring your superpower is never going to get you where you want to go. When you ignore your superpower, when you’re disintegrated in this fashion, you feel like a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest. You’re never going to win doing that, and when you stop ignoring your superpowers, that’s when you start achieving success. Another client is seeing success because she’s embracing an aspect of herself that had been thrown under the bus for a little while. In addition to being a causal coach, she’s also a scientist, but she’d been struggling because she’d been playing by everyone else’s rules even though they weren’t working for her, and she was reluctant to experiment. But now she’s embracing the scientist aspect of herself, and she’s experimenting with what works for her, instead of blindly following ineffective rules, as every good scientist should do, and it feels way better and is getting her the results that she wants.

Conclusion: Integration is the key to success.

So here’s what I have for you this week: Every successful business is a shining example of integration. I don’t care if you’re a coach or a lawyer or a hedge fund manager or any other type of business person. When you get integration right, you know it, because you no longer feel like a fish out of water. You no longer feel like a perversion of yourself or a not-so-terrific clone of someone else, and you no longer feel like ditching your niche. You feel like your niche was tailor-made for you, because it was, because you’ve found the third way. Integration is where you find the third way. It’s where you reject this path that doesn’t work, or that path that doesn’t work, and it’s where you feel like you’re doing the thing you were put on this earth to do, and getting to this place is something I can help you with if you’re struggling. I’m not accepting new clients right now, but on January 2nd I’ll have an announcement describing an offer that will help you get integrated, in your business and in your life, and I can’t wait to tell you about it, because this is going to describe a big moment of integration for me, too. I want us all to get Rich & Thin in 2019, and what I’m announcing on January 2nd is going to help all of us. I hope you join me for that, and I hope you also join me next week, for our seventh installment of living your dream in 2019.

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