You know what you have to do to succeed.
You’ve got to think positive. Work hard. Stay motivated.
But even though you do EVERYTHING you’re supposed to…
Everything you’ve been told will ABSOLUTELY lead to success…
You’re still stuck. You’re not getting the opportunities. You’re not getting the pay.
Why isn’t the “guaranteed path to success” working for you?
Our guest for today, Chrysta Bairre, may have the answers.
Chrysta is the author of Beautiful Badass: How To Believe In Yourself Against The Odds.
Her book is unlike any self-help you’ve read before. It addresses the invisible privilege embedded in so much motivational advice.
If you’re sick and tired of feeling like a failure because you followed the “5 steps to success” and didn’t get anywhere, this interview is for you.
You’ll discover surprising research into how generic motivational advice can backfire. You’ll find out why you don’t succeed when you follow other people’s advice.
And you’ll learn how you can set yourself up for success by doing the next right thing.
What You’ll Learn
Imagine you’re in charge of an inner city youth group.
Your goal is to inspire these kids to dream big, no matter their circumstances.
You decide that what these kids need is to believe in themselves.
So you give them the message:
You can achieve anything you set your mind to. All you have to do is work hard and apply yourself.”
Then you sit back and watch to see what happens.
Some kids do incredibly well. They’re inspired to believe in themselves and try harder.
But other kids don’t do so well.
In fact, they do WORSE.
They begin to engage in risky behavior.
Their performance at school starts to slip.
How could telling yourself that you can achieve anything you set your mind to have a NEGATIVE effect?
Motivation and Privilege
A 2017 study dug into this question, and what it found is this:
Less privileged kids don’t respond to motivation in the same way more privileged kids do.
When you’re told that anything is possible for you—you can achieve “anything” you want—it can come as a nasty surprise when you encounter the very real barriers in your way.
Researchers found that less privileged kids didn’t have access to the same opportunities as their more privileged peers. When they tried to achieve their goals, they found more obstacles in their way.
What they’d been given was an empty promise.
They could believe in themselves all they wanted, but it still wasn’t going to get them anywhere.
But that wasn’t all…
The difference between the lack of success they experienced and the success experienced by their more privileged peers led them to believe that the problem was with THEM.
They decided, “Something is wrong with me. I’m flawed. I’m the one that can’t make this work.”
“The situational barriers that these kids were facing on a day-to-day basis were not addressed,” Chrysta explains. They weren’t told that their lack of privilege or access to resources had anything to do with what they were able to achieve.
No wonder the kids stopped trying.
The positive affirmations just made them feel worse about themselves.
Generic Motivational Advice Doesn’t Apply to Everyone
When Chrysta read this study, it was like a light went on.
All of sudden, her own journey made sense.
She had grown up underprivileged. For much of her childhood, her family was on welfare.
“I had a lot of people telling me what I could and couldn’t do,” she said. But what they told her didn’t match her experience.
Chrysta took advantage of every opportunity to learn how to live a better life. She would eventually lift herself out of poverty to become an inspiring keynote speaker and author.
But she remembers sitting in rooms listening to speakers confidently impart advice that she knew, deep in her heart, didn’t apply to her.
“The reason that advice didn’t apply to me … wasn’t necessarily because it wasn’t good advice,” she recalls, “but because there’s all these other things that get in the way of success.”
She writes in her book Beautiful Badass:
If you have experienced or are currently experiencing trauma, mental or chronic illness, or some form of discrimination based on your race, nationality, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or another socioeconomic barrier, you can’t simply positively think your way around those situations.”
Who’s At the Front of the Room?
When you listen to a speaker or read a book, do you ever think about the level of privilege that’s enabled that person to command your attention?
You just take it for granted that they’ve earned their right to speak.
“You have to have some level of opportunity and some level of privilege to even be that person on stage [or] to be that person that gets that book published,” Chrysta says.
And yet most motivational speakers don’t realize that.
“They don’t realize how much their own opportunities, their own privilege, has contributed to their success.”
They may have had the ability to borrow money in order to afford a high-end coaching program, or drawn on career connections through family or an alumni association. They assume that everyone has advantages like these.
“So much of the time these really well-meaning leaders, speakers [and] thought leaders want to share what has worked for them,” Chrysta says. But they “don’t acknowledge or even know how much the path was paved for them and made easier for them from the start, and how that played a role in their success.”
Reinventing Motivational Advice
If you want to inspire a larger audience in a way that supports and helps people from ALL backgrounds, not just those similar to you, Chrysta has a few ideas.
The first is to acknowledge your level of privilege.
“Where did your connections, your family, your friends, your colleagues … come in and support you?” she suggests asking. “Acknowledge that you may not necessarily have done it alone and that you may have had a lot of help and support along the way.”
She also recommends being clear with your audience about the limitations of your advice.
What’s worked for you is influenced by your background, your opportunities, your level of privilege, and your skills and strength as a person. Not everyone will share those qualities and traits.
When Chrysta giving advice of her own, she’ll often say:
This is what worked for me, and this has worked for many people. But if it’s not working for you, tweak it, adapt it, or ditch it completely, because there’s no one thing that’s going to work for everyone.”
Believe in Yourself Against the Odds
Chrysta decided to do something new in her own book.
She was going to write a book that helped people start from wherever they were at.
She wanted to share the challenges she faced and the tools, exercises, and practices that helped her.
Throughout the book, she gives permission to the reader to pause and reflect on how her advice applies to their unique circumstances, if at all.
“The starting point is to do what you can today to look at yourself, where you’re at today, and just do the next right thing,” she says.
The next right thing is not necessarily what you feel you should be doing.
More often it’s one small step you can take today, “because if you take a small step consistently every day, over time it will add up to progress.”
» Get your copy of Beautiful Badass: How To Believe In Yourself Against The Odds.
Chrysta is a dynamic keynote speaker helping women create balance, advocate for themselves, overcome Impostor Syndrome, and find fulfillment in work and life. She is the author of the book, Beautiful Badass: How To Believe In Yourself Against The Odds. Find out how you can work with Chrysta.