You are an expert at what you do. You know your stuff, whether from education, training, experience or some combination of the above. You know you’ve got a lot to offer that many people would greatly benefit from, and you heart longs to get that help to them. Yet for some reason, you just aren’t seeing the traction and necessary revenue to get you out of startup mode.
You’ve searched, you’ve brainstormed, you’ve done market research interviews, you’ve even gotten out there with an offer or two. Maybe you had some positive feedback. You did sell that one package. Or maybe you’ve even sold a few. Or if you’re still pre-sales, you’ve received extremely positive market research feedback.
So how did you get to this place a year later where you still aren’t making a higher rate of revenue than you were in those first few months? Why haven’t you been able to get to a level of stability where you can feel like you’re running a business, not still starting one?
You may have even hired a marketing coach (often called a business coach) who got you doing a whole slew of new marketing activities. These efforts showed a small uptick in some metric–whether it was mailing list sign ups, website visitors, or some other goal that is meant to later translate into sales. But actual sales didn’t even increase enough to pay for the cost of the coaching.
So what gives? What’s the missing piece?
Looking for the Wrong Solution
Believe it or not, you don’t have to be an entrepreneur to face a similar pattern to this. It just feels more like you’re doing something wrong and need to learn some new business trick to succeed when you’re an entrepreneur. This keeps you hunting for that next thing instead of taking a step back to regroup.
There are many people with JDs, MAs, even PhDs who are pretty much living from paycheck to paycheck. They too may sometimes respond to an inability to reach their career goals by thinking they need additional professional training, but at some point it becomes obvious to them that that isn’t the deciding factor. I mean, once you’ve got a couple of PhDs it’s unlikely inadequate education is what’s holding you back.
This is never obvious for entrepreneurs, and so we can indefinitely go searching for that “breakthrough training” that will finally give us our “six-figure income.”
Hidden Family Patterns
While there is certainly more than one explanation for why some people don’t achieve their goals despite exceptional technical preparation and ability, the particular impediment I’m going to focus on in this article is that of generational persecution that caused adaptations in some families that are now powerful impediments to success.
You see, what helps a family survive or even thrive under an oppressive system like slavery is the exact opposite of what supports thriving under capitalism.
I mention slavery because my family is a descendent of slaves (as well as Native Americans who were forced onto reservations). Throughout the rest of this article whenever referring to a particular legacy of oppression it is that legacy I will use as the example, since I know it most intimately, but many of the same patterns arise whenever a family is adjusting to generational persecution.
Who Are You?
It is important to keep in mind that if you are a descendant of slaves (or any systematically oppressed ethnic group) you come from a family of survivors.
Your ancestors loved you enough to survive, so that you could be born. They lived through great pain and suffering, and not only endured, but adapted in ways that allowed the family line to continue.
They introduced into the family culture ways of relating to self and others that would avoid beatings and even murder. They trained their children to be good slaves outside the home and good slave masters in the home, controlling their own children so severely that they could trust they wouldn’t get themselves killed the moment they walked out the door.
Through slavery and Jim Crow, both eras in American history when a person of African descent could be killed for any reason (meaning no reason) without consequence for the killer, Black families taught their children how to survive.
And now we come to today, when slaves have been freed, Jim Crow laws have been overturned, the Civil Rights Act has passed, and there has even been a Black president and First Lady. While there is certainly still a tremendous amount of progress needing to be brought about, the reality is that the behaviors that were well-adapted under slavery and Jim Crow are NOT well-adapted now. In fact, it is that conditioning that presents the greatest impediment to well-being today.
The thriving that is possible for Black Americans now that was not possible back then can only be realized once we learn to uproot what I call the “poison seeds” that were planted in our families under persecution. What helped us then is the very thing hurting us now.
What Are the 5 Poison Seeds Planted in Our Families Under Persecution?
The 5 poison seeds are:
- Filtering perception to notice the worst
- Persistent low-grade aggression
- Expecting mind reading
- Expecting loss of anything gained
- Belief that anything good must be earned through sacrifice
Each of these tendencies can be traced to conditions that made them “success habits” for a slave or anyone else completely vulnerable to the whims of others. (See my free workshop at The Winning Start for more on the genesis of each poison seed, as well as a healing journey releasing the energetic patterns of the 5th seed.) Unfortunately, they are also habits that prevent African-Americans from attaining the level of financial, emotional, and relational well-being that would otherwise be available today.
How to Get the Poison Seeds Out of Our Gardens
To free yourself (and through you, your family) from these dysfunctional patterns, you must:
- Learn to recognize the poison seeds in your family patterns;
- Understand what freedom from those patterns would be like;
- Release both the energetic patterns and the habits born of those dysfunctional patterns.
If you see yourself getting angry at someone because they didn’t do what you thought they should have known to do without your needing to ask, recognize that as an irrational expectation of mind reading. There is no reason why anyone should know anything about what you need or want unless you directly ask for it. And by “ask for it” I mean “speak the words out of your mouth.”
If you see yourself getting into silly arguments, snapping at loved ones, enraged by customer service reps. or store clerks, or unable to maintain peaceful and harmonious relationships at home or at work, recognize this as a result of persistent low-grade anger. You are likely to also notice that you’re carrying tension in your body even when engaged in activities that have no conflict involved, like washing the dishes or cooking dinner. At a physical level, you are never truly relaxed. You are always ready for a fight. That is because you always feel under attack.
Once you learn to recognize the patterns that have been holding you back, you have the possibility of releasing both the energy and the habits born of those patterns. In writing I can only share with you instruction on creating new habits, but I encourage you to build on what you learn here to get some help shifting the energetic patterns as well.
So How Do We Plant New Family Gardens?
Each seed has its own remedy.
- The remedy for a tendency to notice the worst is deliberate repetition of noticing the good in each moment. Look for then savor the little things: the sunlight on your skin, a breath of fresh air, your children or pet rushing to meet you when you get home at the end of a long day, the smell of coffee roasting or bread baking. Scan for things to savor then take a few seconds to immerse your attention in that deliciousness, and do this as often as possible throughout each day.
- The remedy for persistent low-grade anger is to find outlets to creatively release the contracted physical energy (running, martial arts, dance) while intentionally cultivating an appreciation of how loved you are. Recall incidents from your life where someone was clearly demonstrating love toward you, whether it was your mother cooking your favorite food for dinner, or something one of your children said without thinking that showed just how much s/he appreciates you. Work out the anger and savor the love.
- The remedy for expecting mind reading is to cut everybody some slack. Just realize that no one can actually read your mind, and that you are now safe enough to express yourself directly without needing to “write it between the lines.”
- The remedy for expecting loss is to improve your ability to manifest what you want and continue manifesting it, then replay those stories in your mind again and again. I realize that’s easier to say than do. I do teach this and regularly see people master it, but I know that it takes much more than a paragraph in an article to do so. I can only point you in the right direction for now.
- The remedy for the belief that only suffering, sacrifice and hard work can provide desirable experiences or possessions, is to go back through your past and find the memories of times something good came to you without your doing anything to earn it. Or if you’re not good at remembering stories from your past, then do this at the end of each day: Write down the good things that happened that day that you couldn’t possibly have done anything to earn.
How do you earn the sun rising? How do you earn a smile from a stranger? How do you earn a good night’s sleep? How did you earn having access to the information in this article and what it can do for you? Emphasize the story of how wonderful things come to you through no real effort on your part, and amplify that story in your life.
Opening Into Your True Calling
By intentionally uprooting the legacy of poison seeds in your life and intentionally planting a new, healthy garden, you will be creating a new chapter in your family’s history.
I believe the true story of Black History is one of ever expanding well-being, even in the face of a social system designed to extract as much from us as possible, while denying us any access to the benefits of our contribution — a system that denies the very existence of that contribution, even while continuing to extract it.
When our ancestors chose to not just adapt to survive under brutal conditions, but reproduce generation after generation, they were engaging in a radical act of hope. They were making a deliberate investment in the future of their family. You are the return on that investment of hope.
We have not only survived hundreds of years of extreme rejection and abuse, but we have come to a point where absolute thriving is within our reach. We are unstoppable. We have created everything we need in order to be, do or have anything we can embrace within our idea of who we are.
My admonition to you is, let who you are be defined by nothing less than complete and total well-being. Be unlimited in your thinking about what your contribution to this world may truly be. This is my radicalism.
Want to join me in living it? Take a look at my month-long program for recognizing and unwinding these patterns then clarifying your most fulfilling path forward, so that you can discover who you would be if your mind was completely free of residual chains.
Freedom comes when we realize that we best honor the sacrifices of the past by claiming the future we choose for ourselves.