In a world overflowing with green smoothies and yoga gurus, Danielle LaPorte’s unique voice has pushed its way to the front of the crowded wellness sphere. You could put her cult following – more than 150,000 Instagram followers and another 194,000 on Facebook – down to her ability to blend spirituality with the realities of building a profitable business, as she helps her readers on their journey of self-improvement.
Starting her career as a retail assistant at The Body Shop, Danielle worked her way up to a role within the company’s Social Inventions department before becoming the executive director of The Arlington Institute, a Washington-based think tank specialising in futures studies.
But when the dot-com bust happened, Danielle headed back to her native Canada and began blogging. She has since become a popular speaker, personal consultant (her e-program grossing US$170,000 in its first year) and author (one of her books, The Desire Map, has sold more than 120,000 copies). She is an authority figure on using your natural abilities – she’s proud to have never studied at college – and creating a personal brand.
Here, this soul searcher explains her shift away from the self-help space, prospering financially and, well, the meaning of life (at least, her take on it).
To be happy. We can split philosophical hairs on happiness versus joy. So I would polish it up – if I can polish up the words of [the] Dalai Lama – and say your purpose in life is joy, and joy doesn’t always look like happiness. Joy can be really intense, joy is there even when suffering is there.
It’s not about getting points with this cosmic council about how good of a person you are, or how much of service you are, or how right you are; it’s about joy. And my definition of joy is what happens when you face your soul. It’s the result of being in your truth. I think it doesn’t really matter what you do in terms of career, or even who you marry – just choose and show up as yourself in any situation. No-one is keeping score.
Everybody has the right to prosper from their natural talents, and you get to define what your natural talents are for you. And you get to define your level, type and your flavour of prosperity. Prosperity for a lot of people has so much to do with freedom. I mean, that’s what it is about for me.
There’s so much criticism around not being authentic. I think people are being their true self all the time. Even if you’re being an a***hole, that’s who you are in that moment. If you’re being constricted, restrictive, that’s the best you’ve got. So I think [there needs to be] a refinement of the conversation surrounding authenticity. I think there’s a difference between authenticity and truth, just like there’s a difference between beliefs and truth.
The self-help addiction is very subtle, because it looks good in yoga pants and it looks really responsible. I think we need to be meditating, we need rituals. But you’ve got to be coming from a place of real heart-centred enthusiasm, not because it’s ‘in’.
And you know what the good news is? All that proving and striving is perfectly natural and normal. We’re all on track because you’re going to fall for a lot of lies on your way to the truth, and there can’t be any judgement about how messed up we are.
In our hyper-motivational culture, social media and motivation is like crack. There’s so much pushing [for] an overriding of the natural rhythm. Sometimes we need to honour the resistance to showing up – we do need to stay in bed, we need to jump on a plane and go to an ashram, we need to cancel things.
When you’re afraid and you still want to show up, often, and not always, it’s best to show up and say, ‘I’m nervous, I’m scared, I have doubts but I’m here, anyway.’ And you really are honouring your showing up-ness in that space. But sometimes it’s not safe to show up and say, ‘I’m scared, I’m tired and I don’t really want to be here’, and those are the times when you need to dig deep and really find this athleticism of confidence. You get tough… and you give it everything you’ve got, and those are the days you look back on and say, ‘I did that’, and then you go home and cry. But you accomplish what’s best for your life and then you can be tender with yourself or with people who are cheering for you.
[If] philanthropy and charity is not part of your triple bottom line, then you’re actually part of the problem. It’s not okay to just be neutral anymore and to do no harm. You actually have to… be actively doing some good to get us through what we’re going through.
Here’s the thing about failure – you’re all going to fail, it’s guaranteed. You’re all going to fail and you’re going to die and you’re going to have your heart broken at one point or another, so why don’t you just start anyway, because it’s going to happen eventually, if it hasn’t happened already. You certainly will not meet a fiscally thriving person who has not failed. It’s an initiation – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, to use that cliché. Pick one of the five things you’re noodling over right now and just do it.