I was recently trying to explain to a close friend of mine what shamanism is as we sat on a beach next to the Atlantic watching his dog tumble through the seaweed.
I clumsily said something along the lines of, “Someone who is deeply connected to both the natural and spirit world who acts as a guide for others wanting to explore themselves on a deeper level.” (I’m sure there are as many definitions as there are shamans.)
My friend, always the cynic, responded, “So, do you get a certificate for that or something?” I love him, but he relishes being a contrarian.
I’ve come across so many people in my personal life that claim to be so many things over the years: angelic mediums, spirit guides, psychics, life coaches, spiritual coaches, yogis, gurus, and “healers” of all sorts. In my multiple businesses, I’ve come across similar personalities wrapped in different packaging: executive coaches, facilitators, keynote speakers, “thought leaders”, authors, and consultants of all stripes.
The common thread amongst them all is that they’re all some sort of “guide” and, in most cases, a “leader” looking to inspire others toward a certain way of thinking, feeling, doing, or being.
Regardless of which category an individual chooses to identify with, I’ve found the 80/20 rule (a.k.a. the “Pareto Principle”) almost always applies - about 20% of those in any category are the real deal. The others, not so much.
So, what separates the 20% from the 80%?
To go back to my skeptical friend above and his dismissal of shamanism, he added, “Basically, anyone can just call themselves a shaman.”
I smiled and responded, “Sure. Just like anyone can call themselves a coach, consultant, photographer, chef, filmmaker, or anything else. Like with most things, there are those that are the genuine article and those that aren’t.”
He knew I was leading to something, “And how do you know the difference?”
I have thought about this a lot, so my response was ready, “What distinguishes them are two things. First, of those that I’ve met, the genuine ones are constantly learning and challenging themselves. They do “the work” on themselves. They study the thoughts of others, including those they disagree with. They’re constantly looking to expand their knowledge. They never become complacent because they know that both they and the world are constantly evolving. They never stop being seekers. They’re in a never-ending process of “becoming”.”
He was with me so far, “And the second thing.”
“They genuinely want to be of service to others. It’s not really about them. Though many have healthy egos (and there is nothing wrong with that) what truly feeds them is the results they get for the people they serve.”
He thought about that for a moment. Never one to fully back down on a point, he partially conceded with a slight nod, “Makes sense, I guess.”
I laughed and we both looked back out over the ocean as his dog bounded across the sand.
What practices, rituals, training, or habits have you already installed to make sure you remain in the 20%?
Chaz Thorne, Partner/Producer - Soul Tribe
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