'Untamed' author Glennon Doyle on her best career advice, and the importance of learning to trust yourself
- Dan Schawbel is a bestselling
author, speaker, entrepreneur, and host of the "5 Questions with Dan Schawbel" podcast, where he interviews world-class humans by asking them just five questions in under 10 minutes.
- He recently interviewed
Glennon Doyle, the bestselling author of " Untamed."
- Doyle said that we are all pioneers and need to practice "looking inward for a guide instead of outward with a map."
- When asked for her best piece of career advice, she said "to value and love the people you are serving more than the product you are serving."
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Born in Burke, Virginia, Glennon Doyle struggled with bulimia and
In our conversation, Doyle shares how she overcame her struggles, how to trust yourself, how parenthood changed her, how being brave can make us luckier, and her best career advice.Dan Schawbel: Every successful person I've interviewed over the past 10 years has overcome significant work and life challenges and it's the source of their courage, confidence, and power. How have your struggles with bulimia and addiction shaped the person you are today?Advertisement
Glennon Doyle: My recovery from bulimia and alcoholism shape who I am in every arena of my life. Sometimes I think that addicts are the lucky ones because we hit rock bottom and so we get to experience recovery, which in itself is really just a recovering of yourself. So many of us use the distractions like booze and food, but also more acceptable distractions like snark, and scrolling the internet, and shopping, and all the things we use so that we don't have to be left with ourselves. And recovery gives us the opportunity to return to ourselves, to discover who we really are, and to begin to live in integrity. I think integrity has nothing to do with doing the right thing. It has to do with matching who you are on the inside, and matching your inner thoughts and desires and emotions to your outer self. Integrity is bridging that divide between the two selves, having those two selves be integrated, which is where the word integrity comes from.
As an artist, I have to speak from that inner self. That's what an artist does. If they're speaking from their representative self, that's not true art. So recovering my true self, which was recovery, is essential to being an artist. Living in integrity is essential to being a leader and an activist. And showing up as my true self is essential to being a mother and a wife and a friend. It's interesting seeing the word you use, confidence. I think about that word a lot, and what it means from its Latin roots is "with fidelity." And so living in confidence I think of as living with fidelity to self, to being true to yourself. My sobriety taught me that, and is the guiding force of who I am and my art and my activism and my relationships.DS: One of the biggest personal challenges we face in today's culture is the relentless pursuit of validation from others, which has been amplified by social media. How can we start trusting ourselves instead of striving to meet the expectations of the world?
GD: If we want to trust ourselves, you have to discover yourself again. In order to start being guided by that inner voice, which I call intuition or God or this thing we have inside of us that is constantly guiding us towards the next right thing, we have to rediscover it. We have to learn to listen for that voice again. And the way we do that is we take some time each day to cut out the outer voices. I think that in today's culture we are being led towards more and more of an exterior life, which means we are constantly looking outside of ourselves to our phones, to experts, to other people, to look for what to do next, when really that's another way of asking people for directions to places they've never been because we are each pioneers.No one else has lived the life that we are being asked to live. Every single one of our lives is an unprecedented experiment. I think that there is no map. We are all pioneers, and the only way to know what is next for us and begin trusting ourselves is to cut off all the noises on the outside and start to practice going within with some kind of stillness practice, which is just practicing looking inward for a guide instead of outward with a map. DS: I've heard from all my friends that parenthood changes you and all of them say that you can't prepare for it, it just happens and you react to it. How has parenthood put your life in perspective, helped you deal with your past, and made you a better version of yourself?Advertisement
GD: Parenthood is not the only way, but it is one way to avoid living an unexamined life. Part of what I'm obsessed with right now is this process of untaming, which for me has a lot to do with what Walt Whitman said that we should reexamine everything we've been taught in books, in church, in school, in the world, and dismiss whatever insults our own soul. Becoming untamed is examining these beliefs that we've been just blindly swallowing our whole lives, our social programming. What parenting does is you just have this "look at this little person" and you have this desire to model for them. You know, "What does it mean to be a successful human being? What does it mean to be a good human being? What does it mean to love? What does it mean to live fully?" And in order to model those things and teach those things, you have to figure them out for yourself.
So for me, it was an opportunity to say, wait, what do I believe? If I want to pass on the most powerful beliefs to these children, I have to figure it out for myself. And so first it does that and it offers us an opportunity to figure out what we really believe, and I also think that it's offered me an opportunity to heal.DS: In your book "Untamed," you say the braver we are, the luckier we get. Can you explain what you mean by this phrase and give an example from your life when you got lucky by being brave? Advertisement
GD: First, I would say let's define what brave is, because we're always telling everybody to be brave and we don't think about what that means so much. I think a lot of people say brave means being afraid and doing it anyway, but I don't think that's a good definition. Fear can be a gift and always doing the bold thing isn't necessarily courage. There's a lot of braveness that is quiet and measured and careful. Sometimes doing what's brave can look like cowardice on the outside, but brave is very personal. I would say that brave is listening to that voice on the inside and speaking it on the outside.
DS: What is your best piece of career advice?GD: My best piece of career advice is to value and love the people you are serving more than the product you are serving. For example, I just had to cancel an entire book tour, I canceled it because of the coronavirus and it was a pretty early call. It was a couple of weeks ago. It was a tough call to make. I remember sitting in my hotel room and just crying, thinking, "Oh my God, this book "Untamed" is the most beautiful thing I've ever created in my career and now I have to cancel it." Advertisement
Then I realized that's not true at all. The most beautiful thing I've ever created in my career is the community that I am giving this book to, and so I need to do whatever it takes to make sure that those people are protected, not that this book gets in their hands. I think when we value and prioritize the people we are serving and the people we are serving with, our employees, our employers, whoever these people are, we always end up in the right place. It might not be the right short term, might not make us the most money or opportunity in the short term, but in the long term, it builds up trust, and trust is the only real currency right now.
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