I learned why empathy matters the hard way.
When I started putting out content back in 2008, I tried to impress everyone.
I was sure to always look happy, to cultivate a carefully put together “brand” that made me appear successful.
Looking back now, I can see I was driven by two things:
- Wanting to change people’s lives – I thought impressing them would capture attention and gain their respect
- Seeking validation – Every subscriber was a check in the “I’m good enough” box that made me feel better about my shitty life
After years doing it, I realised it didn’t work.
Yes, I later sold my blog, but not for anywhere near what I could have.
Because I was being fake.
People just “felt it” and couldn’t connect with me.
So I wasn’t able to build a big enough audience.
That’s why empathy matters. It was all about me, instead of being about my audience.
On the other hand, compare that to my last blog post I shared on my Instagram.
In that post, I laid out EVERYTHING.
I was real to the core, bared my soul and shared my darkest moments.
It was scary, but it got more likes, shares, story reposts and comments than anything I’ve ever written. Many posted it on their main feed.
And my personal favourite 🤣
I didn’t ask anyone to do it, they took the time because my vulnerability made them feel something.
Something real, that moved them to share the message.
I was expressing my true self, being completely transparent and people responded.
It connected with them. They saw a piece of themselves in my journey I guess.
They empathised with me.
I learned something so profound.
It showed me how ANYONE can get everything they ever wanted, with far less effort.
I discovered why empathy matters.
Truly, this realisation caused another transformation for me and I believe it can do the same for you.
The Crucial Life Skill Nobody Ever Taught You
Forget reading the hundreds of books on leadership, influence and communication, remember this single word instead.
The power of being seen as you are (unedited, completely raw) creates results beyond anything you’ve probably experienced.
As humans, we evolved together.
Though we started in tribes, we now live more isolated, independent lives.
Despite our newfound “freedom”, we still crave belonging.
Our tribe has become digital. Our sense of belonging measured in likes and follows.
Despite this digital transformation, other people are still the gatekeepers to everything we want.
This is why empathy matters as much now, as it ever has.
- Companies work for their shareholders
- Employees work for their bosses
- YouTubers create content for subscribers
- Salespeople have to convince their prospects
- Charities have to convince people to donate
- Parents have to convince their kids to go to bed
- Connecting with others is important.
Most people know that.
What they don’t know, is that vulnerability is the doorway to connection and empathy.Vulnerability is the doorway to connection and empathy. Click To Tweet
When you connect with people through being vulnerable, they respond.
They like, follow, share, buy, respect you and show love.
You feel connection, belonging, love.
Everything you’ve been trying so hard to get.
And you can get it without any effort.
You only need to make a single choice about the way you live.
This Common Mistake Could Be Blocking Your Potential
There are two ways you can live.
From your false self, or from your true self.
- Living from your false self – Every decision, thought, move you make revolves around a single question – “What will they think?”
- Living from your true self – Every decision, thought, move you make revolves around a single question – “What do I feel?”
If you just realised you’re living from your false self, don’t panic.
You weren’t always like this.
Which means you can go back to your true self when you choose.
You were born as your true self, but as soon as you got home from the hospital, society began to mould you.
Over many years, thousands of moments sculpted you.
These experiences created the teenage you.
With little life experience, you built your entire self around what other people thought.
- Like what the cool kids liked?
- Follow what other kids said and did?
- Did what you thought others would approve of?
Your desire to belong created someone who grew up to serve societies needs, instead of your own.
As an adult, you might still live based on society’s expectation of what is “right”.
Maybe by comparing your life to your Instagram feed and believe you’re “not enough”.
The Silent Conspiracy No One Talks About
Society has conditioned you to believe it’s more important to be liked and to fit in than to be who you truly are.
That’s why you feel that underlying anxiety.
It’s the root of the unrest that lives inside you.
The reason you try to fill your life with stuff to quieten the noise and distract yourself into believe everything is OK.
But deep inside, you still know something is very wrong.
And until you make it right, nothing will be truly fulfilling.
If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment and inexplicable grief.
― Brené Brown
Everything will be short lived flashes of joy, before normal service resumes.
It will even limit your success because the people you’re trying to convince can feel something is off with you.
They won’t ever mention it, but it makes them say no.
The big homie Deepak Chopra does a good job of explaining why this could be:
The ego is not who you really are. The ego is your self-image; it is your social mask; it is the role you are playing. Your social mask thrives on approval. It wants control, and is sustained by power, because it lives in fear.
– Deepak Chopra
One of the “milestones” in life is to return to your true self.
The vehicle to take you back is available right now:
Choose to live from your true self in every moment, in every decision, every day.
Starve the ego, feed the soul.
The Crossroads: Impressing People vs. Expressing Yourself
If I asked you…
“Do you express yourself or are you more concerned with impressing
others and caring what they think?”
…you’d probably tell me you express yourself.
Most people do.
But what does your life demonstrate?
Does any of this sound like you?
Impressing: The Hungry Ghost That Demands Feeding
The desire to impress comes from needing others to validate you.
Society seduces us into believing being a “baller” at a young age will give us everything we need…
- Feeling enough
…and help us avoid:
- Never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed
- Not being lovable
- Feeling like we don’t belong
So we create a fake life we show the world.
And it’s a hungry ghost that needs feeding.
New posts, with ever more extravagant experiences that mark you as “elite”, a newer car, a bigger house, a hotter partner.
And to maintain this illusion, we become perfectionists.
“Perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.” – Brene Brown
Let’s hear from the modern philosopher, Drakius of Toronto:
Expressing: The Easiest Way To Build Likability and Trust
As humans, we have a fundamental need to express ourselves authentically.
How do you know if you’re living from self-expression?
If you’re self-expressed you…
- Live true to your values
- Say what you really think
- Live your life based on what matters to you
- Speak your truth
- Don’t go with the flow if you don’t agree
- Admit when you don’t know something
- Say no to the things you don’t want to do
When you live from expression, you live as your true self.
You feel stronger, more capable and happier.
You stop needing other people to validate you.
And other people feel this and start to give you everything you ever wanted.
In every moment, in every decision you make a choice. The choice to express, or the choice to impress.
- When you’re changing career – are you going to start making your craft beer or go to a bigger law firm for more money even though you hate it?
- When you’re buying a car – Are you going to get the BMW that means you’ll need to stay in the job you hate just to pay for it, or are you going to get something more basic so you can do what you really want to?
Every decision you make, is sealing your fate.
Your decisions, decide your destiny.
So make a choice.
To impress, to trade your life away taking on financial obligations that stop you from being your true self.
Or to express and open the floodgates to connection, empathy, belonging, love, adoration, respect and every other feeling you crave so deeply.
This can only happen when you live your truth.
That’s why empathy matters.
Why Empathy Matters: Summary
At some point, we have to ask ourselves who we’re living for.
Are you living for you?
The funny thing about empathy is that to get there, we go through these stages:
- Living for other people’s approval – You’re living for your own needs to be met, through others.
- Beginning to live for yourself – You stop living for the approval of others and express yourself authentically.
- Finally living for others – Your authenticity attracts others and you focus on serving them.
The comical part of this cycle is that once you stop living for yourself, everything you want comes to you.
Without effort, without stress. You go from chasing bees to becoming the honeypot.
You now know why empathy matters: its how the world functions in a way that’s collaborative, harmonious and for everyone’s greater good.
So choose to be you. Choose to be authentic and choose to server others.
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” ― Brene BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection
What choice are you making?