For my friends, family, and colleagues, I know you will understand why I am compelled to write this. For those who do not know me, I invite you to bear with me in this exploration, perhaps suspending assumptions and beliefs about me, until you come to the end of this article. Some of you will be shocked, I'm sure, some dismayed. I expect eye-rolls, hand-over-mouth "oh no!", and even some knowing laughter - yet it is the whole range of emotion that is exactly the point about what I am about to disclose and I invite you to reflect on it and write back to me if it affects you deeply.
]You see, I have made friends with Donald Trump. Not just good friends, but actually very close friends. And once I did that, I found that I immediately stood straighter and taller, I was grounded, and I could move through my day and my interactions with others unapologetically. I feel this is one of the most productive and spiritually honest things I have done in my life, and that is what compels me to share with it you.
"I Am Donald Trump." I spoke these words yesterday at a microphone in a hotel ballroom full of 200 spiritually-minded individuals working in the personal transformation industry, and I believe I heard the air being sucked out of the room. At least one person gasped. I'm certain many people felt I had lost all my rational filters. And later, privately, several people actually thanked me.
So what am I talking about? I should clarify, I have actually never met The Donald Trump, never written to him, never corresponded in any way. He has no idea who I am. The Donald Trump that I reconciled with in a personal way is far more intimate than Donald Trump, presidential candidate. It is the name I have given to my Shadow. Shadow is that part of us that, if we even acknowledge its existence, we hope that no one will see it in us. It is integral to our soul, and it is the companion of the attributes that we are pleased to show off to others. We all have Shadow, and we all usually try to hide it. Some of us have Shadow parts that are more visible, and we all have one thing in common: if we do not embrace our Shadow, we cannot live a whole and integrated spiritual life.
I finally embraced the aspect of my soul that holds the belief that big hairy audacious projects are the risks and accomplishments that make life worth living. I embraced my bravado that is willing to say "I can do it" to the most impossible-sounding jobs that others say are personally reckless. I believe in making things better, and sharing with others the vision of the potential of a system that works, even in what I see as the wreckage of the legacy of ill-formed good intentions of past leaders. I have spoken out, stuck my neck out, and made some amazing things happen in my professional life. In the course of that time I have spoken to thousands of people in webcasts, in person, on live Tv after long international flights and a string of sleepless nights. Not long ago if one Googled my name, pages and pages of references would appear. I was very proud of my contribution to the successful execution of the largest cash transaction for a public traded company in US History, and of the hundreds of well-received speeches, projects and articles attributed to me.
I have fans, and I have enemies. In the course of life, I had relationships that were in tatters and generated a lot of unpleasant accusations and gossip. I have been called a tramp, a liar, a cheat and a thief, and in the eyes of those who made those claims those labels were justified. I have had indiscretions and said things that hurt other people. I have most certainly done an inadequate job of apology. What has not ever been quite so visible to others are the times I was the victim of an attempted abduction, sexually assaulted (lost count of those actually) and been the target of sexual harassment (also countless). These events have made me stronger - maybe even made me more determined than ever to succeed, perhaps to a fault. I have made mistakes, and just as I've had huge success, I've had equally huge failures. I've learned to even embrace failure - I learn and move on. Some people think that is awfully audacious of me.
At one point an entire company website was anonymously dedicated to the personal and professional destruction of myself and my colleagues and the dotcom company we led because employees and former employees did not like the direction we were taking. Just as I've created hundreds of jobs and helped launch careers, I have also had to lead a promising company through bankruptcy and an asset sale. I confess that, when faced with laying off hundreds of people, I considered a business deal with a client that would have been hugely lucrative but completely against my ethics, in order to ensure a revenue stream that would keep the business going and save jobs for many families. There, I said it, I did that.
The thought of being accused of deception, betrayal, and manipulation generates a visceral reaction in my solar plexus, but that is, in fact, a fair accusation. I expect that I will be called to do it again in the future. I have held space for individuals in the midst of crisis, knowing that they will receive very difficult news, unable to share that with them myself. I have kept secrets (and am extraordinarily good at that.) I have shared partial truths, have withheld information, and conveyed select information in order to direct the paths of others in a certain direction.
I find that anger is a very effective tool and am not afraid to express it in the face of injustice, perceived or real, in the cause of a mission in which I believe deeply. I have not been afraid to defend myself very vocally when I perceive I am unjustly accused or misunderstood. When I believed the cause justified it, I have absolutely used anger to virtually slam the direction of a project quickly in a direction I saw it needed to go, with great success for the project, and at the cost sometimes of wounding others. I've done that sometimes with the speed of a knee jerk reaction - and it has not always gone well. I always, always, knew that the buck stopped with me and if I made a mistake I owned it perhaps more than others believed I did. The good news is, I'm a fast learner, and I rarely make the same big mistake twice.
Yep - that's me. I own that. So, what's great about this? What I mean when I declare that "I am friends with Donald Trump," is that I own this part of me that people love to hate when it is so public. It is what makes me who I am today - a coach for humans are as imperfect as I am but who may be very uncomfortable with that. A coach for people who feel that the "hand brake" is on in life, and don't know why. A coach for people who are experiencing loss - either the result of their own action or the result of others. It makes me able to hold sacred space for transformation and healing. There is nothing anyone could say to me that is a surprise, and I am the last person to make a judgment on another person's life and behavior. It helps me "see" others and to help them through their own challenges.
The flip side of this shadow is learning to speak the truth in love in a way that is constructive and timely. These two things are like the warp and woof of the fabric of my being. Keeping them in balance is my personal work. Just like the real Donald.
My own shadow also enables me to see the lives of others who live out these same traits on the public stage in a way that is scrutinized, under the most intense microscope of public opinion, and at a level unprecedented in history. Instead of pointing the figure and accusing them, I can see myself and my most imperfect nature. I wince, and I remember my own story. How grateful I am for divine grace and the healing that is held for all of us there.
Yes, I stand tall, and I own all of my imperfect self. As I stood to say the prayer of confession on Yom Kippur a few days ago, and struck my left chest with my right fist, I felt acutely vulnerable, aware of just how HUMAN we all are, and how grateful I am for a gracious G-d:
"We have transgressed, we have acted perfidiously, we have robbed, we have slandered. We have acted perversely and wickedly, we have willfully sinned, we have done violence, we have imputed falsely. We have given evil counsel, we have lied, we have scoffed, we have rebelled, we have provoked, we have been disobedient, we have committed iniquity, we have wantonly transgressed, we have oppressed, we have been obstinate. We have committed evil, we have acted perniciously, we have acted abominably, we have gone astray, we have led others astray. We have strayed from Your good precepts and ordinances, and it has not profited us. Indeed, You are just in all that has come upon us, for You have acted truthfully, and it is we who have acted wickedly." (for more on this Yom Kippur and deathbed prayer see http://www.chabad.org/…/je…/The-Viduy-Confession-Prayers.htm)
It is a corporate prayer - one that recognizes that when one fails, we all fail. We are mutually and corporately responsible. And I wonder now, about the wisdom of that prayer, if it is not just to get us to confess and repent, to bring us into relationship to the Divine, but to bring us into a healed relationship with ourselves and one another: to integrate that this is who we are as humans to one degree or another, to strive to do better, to bring our good nature and our shadow into balance, and to offer timely and constructive criticism in love. When we own our shadow, there can be no inner shame trigger to send us into reactive behaviors that are destructive to ourselves and others; we can simply recognize that this is who we all are at one time or another, and resolve to do better. It is a process of a lifetime.
When we finally integrate our shadow, whatever that might be, we will finally be able to live up to the Divine Purpose that is established for us, move forward, and the world will heal. We will raise up a generation that is integrated, not ashamed, fearful, and violent to one another and the planet. May it be soon.
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