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5 Things Your Life Coach Can’t Teach You Because Only Life Can

1. Smart people don’t live for other people.

Somewhere hidden between the lines of a Kanye West rant is his frustration that we live in a world that requires permission. Where our “reality” was handily crafted in the images of big entities who benefit from our being obedient to their rules. Yeezy refuses to abide and most days, I agree with him. Smart people don’t live for other people.

Beyonce agrees too. She released a secret album on Friday the 13th.

But when you buck the system, there’s bound to be some conflicts of interests.

I think my favorite part of Beyonce’s album release week was watching PR professionals try and grapple with the idea that she didn’t go the traditional route. It makes sense that they were baffled because at it’s core – PR is founded on the implication that you need a middle man. That you need someone else to strategically craft your story to impact what people say/think/feel about you.

But smart people don’t live for other people.

Big retailers were also aghast. In response to her insubordination, they refused to sell her album on their shelves. Of course, none of this really affected Bey.

She broke all the rules and still sold 1,000,000 copies in under 2 weeks.

2. Rules are not a substitute for relationships

This was only possible because Beyonce has done the difficult work of growing with her fans. It required ending a professional relationship with her father and showing us a more authentic version of her art; a modern woman and talking about modern woman problems. She’s spent the last 2 years “sharing” in an effort to connect.
But public corporations cannot be that vulnerable, they have to protect themselves in order to be profitable. So they create rules like “I’m not going to sell your work if you pursue a partnership that doesn’t also benefit me”. While their blacklist doesn’t harm Beyonce, it does send a warning shot to other artists who do need a distribution channel like a Big Box Retailer.
Leveraging your business model to squash provocative ideas is nothing new, but it is something we’re hearing more about thanks to the democracy of the internet.
Any way, Beyonce’s success just suggests that most ‘rules’ are just hurdles set up to protect the rule-maker.
3. Breaking a promise to yourself is destructive 

Rules are just magical boundaries. Non-existent. Beyonce once had a rule that required her to keep her private life ultra-private. When she started a tumblr and began posting personal pictures as a way to connect with her fans, she realized the truth.

The truth is that real boundaries are learned in relationships, not in requirements.

When I started this blog, I gave myself a rule: never post about someone without them reading it first (broke that rule here…also here). But you know what?  It seems like every black women I know is creating new rules, and almost every black woman I know is also having a really hard time following them. Even Beyonce!

Maybe, we are all creating rules in vain – as a substitute for building a relationship with ourselves.

Maybe, we stop restraining ourselves with stupid rules and start making limitless promises. Except, I did that too, when I promised myself that I would share my story by posting here 3 times a week.

When you break a promise to yourself, your initial instinct is to cover up the consequences.

4. Excuses are really just lies and circular reasoning

So I started telling myself that I wasn’t posting because I was too busy traveling. Then I started lying to myself and saying that I wasn’t posting because I would do it tomorrow. I lied enough that I ultimately convinced myself that the platform was at fault. Because, see, blogging under my real name requires an editing process SO intense that it is okay if I break promises to myself in the name of good content.

Because, obviously, I need to that ensure people see good content when they google stalk me.

Do you know what circular reasoning is? It’s when the reasoner begins with what they’re trying to end up with. Lots of people use circular logic when they’re trying to get out of something that is uncomfortable. I know this because when I was creating a budget earlier this year, to rid myself of consumer debt by 2014, I would say things like, “I can start tracking my spending on Mint, as soon as I buy a new phone.”

“…because of the push notifications and what not.”

5. Nothing has meaning except for the meaning you give to it

Life has taught me that lying to myself is the number one indicator that I am scared. And in many areas of my life, fear has traditionally been a barrier, not a compass.

I spent the bulk of 2013 working really hard to understand what fear means, what it looks like in my life, and how to manage it appropriately. Yesterday I got two little tweets encouraging me to share my learnings from 2013. And I will, right here, tomorrow (promise!).

But first, I had to be honest.

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