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Elizabeth Gilbert

Give Your Attention

“There’s a huge amount of real estate between the worst and the greatest.”

Do you care about getting your social media numbers up? Do you want people to love and adore you?

The problem is that you’re focusing in the wrong direction.

Don’t concentrate on yourself or what you want from other people. Shift your focus to helping others. Make an impact on those who already appreciate you.

When that happens, more people will appreciate you. You’ll make their lives magical, and the success and admiration will come later.

For example, when Oprah comes out on stage she doesn’t say “Look at me. I’m great.” She puts her focus on her audience. She zooms in on others and does what she can to help everyone around her.

For this episode of 5 Minute Friday, I’m bringing back this segment from Elizabeth Gilbert.

She’s an American author, essayist, short story writer, biographer, novelist, and memoirist.

She is best known for her 2006 memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, which, as of December 2010, had spent 199 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list.

She gives her insights on what she’s learned about the power of looking to serve rather than be served.

Discover all of that and much more, on Episode 645.

“What is so worthy that you will actually devote yourself to giving rather than getting?”  

Some Questions I Ask:

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Where most people lie in relation to their greatness (00:45)
  • How to really help others (1:32)
  • How to get a larger platform (3:17)
  • What makes Oprah so great (3:44)
  • Plus much more…

Show Notes:

Connect with
Elizabeth Gilbert

Transcript of this Episode

Lewis Howes:              This is Five-Minute Fridaaaaay!!

I am extremely excited about out guest, Liz Gilbert. In her early career she worked as a journalist for publications like Spin and GQ and The New York Times Magazine. And she has won multiple awards for her books.

She just celebrated the 10 year anniversary for ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, which was a worldwide phenomenon, and she is now an internationally recognised author and speaker. She’s been on Oprah’s Super Soul Sessions, she’s been on tour with Oprah, she’s spoken all over the world, got a lot going on and, man, this was one of my favourite interviews to do.

Liz Gilbert:                   You know, what I feel like doesn’t work is, and it doesn’t work for me, and for some people maybe it does, is this kind of like, getting yourself up for something by pumping your arms and then being, like, “I’m the greatest!” And the reason it doesn’t work for me is that there’s this very reasonable, sane part of my mind that’s like, “Well, probably not.” Like, there’s all sorts of evidence that I might not be.

Lewis Howes:              You’re a human being, yeah.

Liz Gilbert:                   But guess what, Lewis? I’m not the worst, either. And there’s a huge amount of real estate between the worst and the greatest, and I’m somewhere in there and I’ll take my place in there, where I am. And I’m just happy to be in the game, you know?

Lewis Howes:              Yeah, I hear you. It’s interesting, I do some speaking every now and then, not twenty thousand, like Oprah right now.

Liz Gilbert:                   You will.

Lewis Howes:              Yeah, yeah, but I do a lot of it my own way, and I remember about a year and a half ago, it just started to pick up more and I was working with a coach on my business stuff, and I called him 15 minutes before, and I was, like, “I’m so nervous right now. I want to do a really great job, you know?”

And he’s, like, “It’s all good, but the thing is to focus on, you shouldn’t be nervous if you’re focussing on them. When you focus on yourself, then you’re going to be nervous on how you look, ‘What if I slip? What if I mess up? What if I stumble? What if I look bad?’ That’s all you’re concerned about. How you look, how you show up.”

Liz Gilbert:                   Yeah, “How are they going to see me?”

Lewis Howes:              Instead, he’s like, “The easiest way to shift out of that is just to focus on service, and being of service. You’re not going to look perfect, and people are going to accept you for who you are when you’re authentic and real and not looking so polished is going to look, you know, they’re going to connect with that more.”

Liz Gilbert:                   How do you serve? Yeah, I mean, that’s the thing that I felt. You are here to show them, go do your job and help, you know, serve.

Lewis Howes:              Yeah, so the more it comes from that place, it may not look perfect, but it’s going to be perfect in that moment, right?

Liz Gilbert:                   There’s this poet, the poet Mark Nepo. I was listening to a conversation with him, and he said something so wonderful, he said, “We live in a culture where everybody’s trying to figure out how to get more attention.” Like, “How do I get a bigger platform? How do I get more likes? How do I get more of an audience? How do I get more sales? How do I get more attention?”

And he said, “That’s not that that’s an insignificant question, but there’s another question, which is: While you’re spending all your energy focussed on getting attention, what are you giving your attention to? That’s the sole question. What is so worthy to you that you will actually devote your attention to giving, rather than getting?”

So, if you’re giving your attention to your audience, it’s a lot more beautiful exchange, than if you’re like, “Can I get you guys to look at me?” versus, “What can I get…”

My friend Glennon Doyle Melton, who’s fantastic.

Lewis Howes:              She’s great! I’ve had her on here, she’s amazing!

Liz Gilbert:                   She said, constantly people are coming up to her and saying, “How can I get a bigger platform on my page? How can I get a bigger platform?” And she says, “By serving the platform you already have.” Because if all you’re thinking about, with your platform, is ‘how can I get more numbers?’, you’re not even paying attention to the people who are already giving you their energy. Serve them, and the rest of it will take care of itself.

There’s a story I’ve told before, but I find it so remarkable. When we did the tour, there was a young girl who came with her parents and she was there as a guest of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a teenage girl. So, she was there with her mom and her dad, and her little sister who was probably about nine, and this girl was about fifteen.

And I don’t know what her condition was, but, Lewis, she was there with the Make-A-Wish Foundation – she’s very ill, you know? Like, obviously something’s not right, not good with this. She’s a young person who’s either very sick or dying, right? And her wish had been to come and meet Oprah Winfrey and to come to this event.

And so Oprah went on stage at one point and just said, in this very poised and beautiful way, she took a moment and said, “We have a special guest in the audience today.” And I can’t remember her name, I’ll just make up a name; she’s like, “This is Kelly, she’s here as a guest of the Make-A-Wish Foundation and can you stand up?” and she put the spotlight on her, and everybody is like, weeping, because they don’t even know, but they know; everyone knows what that means.

And that alone was beautiful, generous, emphathetic, humane; that’s Oprah, right? But then she did something after that, that I was, like, “Oh that’s why you’re you and nobody else is you.”

She said, “We have another very special guest in the audience today, and I was so honoured to be able to meet this young woman backstage and talk to her. And she reminds me of myself at her age. She loves reading, and she’s passionate about school and she loves music and she loves to dance, and she is really interested in animals, and she is just the most vivacious, spirited young woman I’ve ever met. And that’s Kelly’s little sister.”

And she puts the spotlight on the nine-year-old, who’s the little sister of the girl who’s very sick. And I was, like, “Oh my gosh, of course! That kid gets no attention! Of course that kid gets no attention.”

Lewis Howes:              Right, because all the focus is on ‘Kelly’.

Liz Gilbert:                   Because Kelly’s got the glamour of, you know, and Kelly’s very ill and probably requires a huge amount of attention because she has a serious disease of some sort. But she also has the glamour of suffering around her. And this kid has probably just been, as much as it doesn’t mean her parents don’t love her, they just don’t have time and energy, they have a very sick daughter.

And I was like, “Oh my gosh!” and that little girl stood up and she put the spotlight on her, and she was just beaming! Like, she just took up the whole arena. She’s like, “Hi!” And for Oprah to say, “You remind me of myself,” you know? Like, “You remind me of myself, you’re just like me. You’re great!” It was, like, “That’s why you’re Oprah Winfrey!”

I mean, “It’s good enough that you did the first step, but you saw the next thing that nobody else would see.” And that’s, again, not about how am I getting attention, but who am I giving attention to? And I see her do that in every room that she’s in. Just pick the person who isn’t getting the attention, and see them. And make them feel seen.

And that’s why she’s her, and nobody else is. Because, I think, after a certain level people stop giving attention and only try to hold onto the attention that they have or get more.

Lewis Howes:               Hey, guys! If you enjoyed this inspirational clip from a past episode of the show, then you’ll love the free book I’m giving away right now. It’s called The Millionaire Morning. It includes some of my best tips for starting off your day with a millionaire mindset. Get your free copy at themillionairemorning.com and just pay shipping.

Again, check it out right now, themillionairemorning.com.

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