Sally Ann Miller

What Drives You: Some Lessons From Tolkien

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Today’s episode is the third in the True Self Series. The series is about building a heart-centered business – one that feels true to you.

In this episode, we explore how the head, heart and body serve different purposes. We look at why you need all three and how the head and body can lead you astray.

When you raise the head (or body) above the heart you take away what it means to be human. The heart is the part of you that recognizes truth and beauty. It’s also the seat of the True Self.

If you want to build a business that feels true to you then you want to let your heart guide you.

What you’ll learn on today’s episode:

  • The problem with asking “what do you want?”
  • The differences between the head, heart and body and why you need all three.
  • How the false self can manipulate the head and the body.
  • What we can learn from Lord Of The Rings about certain character traits.

Featured on this episode:

Episode 19: The Problem With Today’s Success Culture

Episode 20: True Self Versus False Self

Get more information about Business Growth Lab here:

Download the related workbook the this episode HERE


Welcome to Introverts Thriving in Business, the podcast for introverts who enjoy the comfort of her, hate the idea of selling, and want to create a thriving business on their terms. If you’re ready to go from overwhelmed and anxious, to feeling calm and accomplished in your business, then keep listening. I’m your host, Sally Miller.

Welcome back to the podcast. And today, we are continuing with the True Self Series. So this is a series I’ve been doing over the past few weeks about helping you build a business that feels good, feels natural, feels true to you, one that is a heart-centered business. So this week, I want to talk about motivation, what motivates you. And I’m also going to be sharing some lessons from Tolkien because at the end of the day, I’m a little bit of a Lord of the Rings geek. So I’m going to be drawing some parallels from Lord of the Rings, the books and the movies.

So, this is the third in the True Self Series. In Week One, we just started out by looking at the problem with today’s success culture. And I introduced this concept of “false self”, and how today’s success culture can feed that false self, that ego, can play to that desire for more stuff, more money, more recognition, etc. And then last week, I went deeper into what is the false self, and comparing and contrasting it with the true self. Because it’s my thesis for this series, that to have a heart-centered business, a way to do that is to tune in with your true self, and make decisions from that place, not from the false self, not from the ego, but to make decisions in your business from the heart from that true self.

Now, today, we’re going to start talking about, well, how do you do that? And in order to begin to answer that question, I want to explore what I’m calling three human faculties or three human senses, or think of these as three motivators, three things that drive you or motivate you in life. And I’m going to show you how two of the three, all of them are important, all of them serve a purpose to you as a human being. But two out of the three can be misused by the false self, and I’ll explain what I mean by that.

So before I tell you what these three faculties are, I just want to talk a little bit about a question that I’ve personally used a lot in coaching. But it can also be something that guides us in the wrong direction. It’s something that I see a lot of other coaches do, too. And it’s something I’ve done a lot. And the question that can be really powerful, but also can be misused, can send us in the wrong direction and our businesses is, what is it that you really want? That’s a question many coaches, myself included, will ask when someone’s struggling to make a business decision. We will literally pause, we will calm our client down and ask: “What is it that you want to do? Which of these options do you want??

Now, here’s the problem with that question that I began to realize. And I’m adjusting the way that I use this question personally in my coaching now with my clients, is, there’s two ways –well, it’s probably multiple ways. But the client can answer that question, what is it that you want, either from the true self, and that’s going to guide them true, but they can also answer from the false self, from the ego. That question, ‘what do you want—when someone is trapped in the ego, trap in the desires that are generated by the false self that are keeping them on that treadmill that I talked about in the first week of this series, the time that I talked about the success culture and being stuck on that treadmill of constantly wanting more.

Well, that question, what is it that you want—can send people even deeper into that desiring, into that constant striving, into that gripiness, that attachment to the results they want in their business, the goal they’re trying to achieve in their business. Now I’m going to pause and say there’s nothing wrong with goals. But I do see a problem with tightness and attachment and needing to achieve goals. That does not serve us, in the sense that it leads us away from our true selves. It also can keep us looking into the future and not in the present. And our best answers are in the present, the here and now.

So I want to offer a different question to what is it you want. You can ask instead, this question, what is good and true for you? What feels good and true in this moment? Is this true? What is true? Try on those questions, and I believe those questions speak more directly to the true self than the false self. So I mentioned that, because this leads us into the three faculties, the three motivators, this idea of what is really motivating you as you work in your business. And I believe it’s important that you understand that there are different forces acting on you all the time.

So the three faculties are: your head, your heart, and your body. Now, I’m going to give lots of other names for them, but I like head, heart and body because that is so simple. So to describe what I mean by those, the head is that reasoning part, that part of your brain is capable of logic, analysis, planning. This is what your head is good at, by the way. All three of these faculties: head, heart and body have strengths, they have a purpose for existing, they serve you as a human. So the head is very good for making reasoning, for using logic to analyze a lot of data, also to plan out strategy. That’s the head.

The second one is the heart. The heart is good for creating. You can also think of this as encompassing several components. I believe the heart encompasses your intuition, and also your conscience. That part of you that instinctively understands the difference between good and bad. Little kids have this, right, don’t make? They have a conscience inbred. We teach them what’s good and what’s bad. But they know. There’s something in us humans, that has this innate understanding of what is pure and true, versus what is wrong or corrupt or bad in some way. Heart is also the seat of love, and I contend it is the seat of the true self. So that’s your heart. It’s good at creating, it’s good at nourishing you and others, at serving. Your heart is what I believe is the best decision maker, once you can tap into it.

And then the third faculty is the body. And I’m terming this as it encompasses your nervous system and other parts of your body. Think of it as— animals have this. This is the faculty that animal kingdom—that all animals have, that through instinct, enables them to survive. Their nervous system, their survival system, that body helps them make decisions to survive, helps them find food, protect their young, escape danger, etc. That is what I’m terming the body. And the body is good for protecting you and helping you survive. In business, it’s going to help you avoid burnout and stress. If you listen to your body, if you look for the signs of your nervous system being activated. And you can go back several episodes, and listen to the episodes that I did on CALM Method. And I talked some more to the nervous system on those episodes.

But when you learn to listen to your nervous system, and to respond to it and take care of it, that is how you’re going to avoid overwhelm and anxiety. And at the extreme end, like I said, burnout, depression when it gets to the extreme end. So again, the body has a purpose. That messaging that it sends you is important. And you want to learn to listen to all three: the head and the heart and the body.

But they also, the head and the body especially, have potential traps, problems. When overused, they can lead you down a path that I don’t think is beneficial to you and your business. And what do I mean by that? Let’s look at the head first. And I am going to come to Tolkin in a minute. But when you overuse your reasoning, when you overuse your thinking—and incidentally, this has been my greatest challenge, overreliance on head, putting reasoning, brain power, smarts as first, like, almost on a pedestal as if, like, if I use enough brain power, I can reason my way through or out of or into any situation.

But when you overuse that, several things can happen. One that I see commonly with my clients is analysis paralysis. This is where you’re getting overwhelmed, you’ve got all this data, you think you need to do something about it, and your brain just starts spinning and spinning. It can lead to extreme overthinking, like a troubled mind, like a mind that’s not able to let go of things. And if you think about it, at its most extreme, reliance on the head, and not taking to notice of your heart and your body, can lead to loss of touch with your humanity. And just basic common sense. And when you go here, your false self can actually take over. Your false self can actually manipulate you through your head, through your overthinking.

So what about the heart? What happens when you overuse the heart? Now, I’m all about the heart. This whole series is called True Self Series, it is about building a heart-centered business, about being led by your heart and consulting with your heart when making decisions, using it as your director, like, what direction should I go into? Then listen to your heart, your intuition, your conscience.

But when you’re relying solely on your heart, and you’re not utilizing your brain, your reasoning, your head, and when you’re not listening to your body, you can miss warning signals. Especially if you’re not listening to your body, you’re going to miss warning signals coming from your environment that your body’s telling you it’s time to take a step back, it’s time to rest. Also, if you’re just heart, but you’re not utilizing that reasoning of your head, then you’re going to, in business, suffer when it comes to planning and execution. So being purely heart-led is not going to be successful or as fruitful in business as being heart-led, but also listening to your body and your head.

What about overuse of the body, that animal instinct? What if you become pure instinct? Imagine that. Well, that again, you’re losing touch with two things that we humans have, that animal kingdom down, where you’re losing touch with your reasoning power, and that conscience, that heart part. I think this can mean that you remain static. You will actually no longer grow. If you’re just responsive to your environment, if you’re just relying on the body and your animal instinct, and you go into fight or flight mode most of the time, then you’re going to stay where you are, you’re going to stop growing.

And the even more, at an extreme, you began to become a complete victim, to your desires to external forces. This is again, where the false self can manipulate you. The false self can manipulate you through your head and overthinking, but also through your nervous system and your automatic response patterns. So you want to listen to your body, but you don’t want to become pure instinct, reactive.

Now, I want to, because I love Lord of the Rings and Tolkien, I have decided to share some characters who I think show, demonstrate the traits or characterize what happens when you’re relying too much on your head, your heart or your body, like characters within Lord of the Rings that really demonstrate the point I’m trying to make. And hopefully, that’s going to help make it more real, at least to those of you who are also fans of The Lord of the Rings.

So some characters that come to mind when I think about being head-led, being very good and strong reasoning are Gandalf and Elrond. They’re two of the leaders, the advisors, the wise counselors in Lord of the Rings. And they balanced the head, I believe, from the book with those other faculties. But I want to give you another example from the books of a character who is almost led deeply by his head, possibly by the body too, but the character I’m thinking of is Denethor.

So, Denethor, if you don’t recall, is the steward of Gondor. And he has wonderful qualities, he is extremely wise ruler. The stewards of Gondor were right at the edge. They were right there facing off against Sauron throughout history and they had a lot of responsibility, and he had been a very wise ruler. He was very courageous. These great qualities, but he’s proud and he’s willful and he puts a lot of emphasis on seeking knowledge. He almost gets wrapped up so deeply in that desire for knowledge and information, so that he has good motivation, so he can fulfill his role as steward of Gondor.

And what he does in the book is he begins to look into the Palantir. And this in theory enables him to see what’s happening, what Sauron is up to, what the Dark Lord is doing. However, what he doesn’t know is Sauron is able to manipulates, and only permits him to see what he wants to see. And so what happens is Denethor’s desire for knowledge, his over use of this desire, this need to have more information, more knowledge, what it does is it gives him misinformation, wrong information, dark information, and it leads them into despair.

And he’s quite a pitiful character towards the end of the books or the movies. He’s despairing of all his loss of hope. So that is Denethor, and an example of how just over reliance of reasoning and losing touch with your heart, okay? Now he does come back, we do see how his love for his son, Boromir, where his heart, his love kicks in and the way he relates to the hobbits, okay? But you can see how overuse of the reasoning can lead you into a dark place.

What about the heart? Well, there’s an entire race in The Lord of the Rings, who I believe, truly demonstrate what it means to have a heart-led life. And of course, it’s the hobbits. The hobbits in Lord of the Rings are free spirits. They’re about loving their neighbors, they are about having fun, they’re in touch with joy, they’re very light creatures. And in fact, a whole thing in the Lord of the Rings is only the hobbits able to carry the Ring of Power without being corrupted by it, without succumbing to the dark side. Any elf, any human, any dwarf that would carry that ring is far more likely to be seduced by the darkness, be it, their false selves, their egos are likely to be drawn in, but the hobbits have this quality that enable them to resist that. And I believe that is because they remain heart-centered.

Sam and Frodo, especially in the book, demonstrate this. Another good example is Sam’s love for Frodo. He considers Frodo his master his leader. And his love for Frodo is so great. He follows him into the depths of Mordor into danger. He leaves his beloved home, his beloved Shire in order to follow and support Frodo, and he does that through his heart, through his love.

So what about the third and final faculty that we’ve talked about, is the body, okay? Remember, that’s the animal instinct and nervous system, that survival instinct. It’s very easily manipulated by the false self. Here, in Lord of the Rings, I have to look to Gollum or Smeagol, as he is right at the beginning of the story, when he first finds the ring. And gradually, over time, the ring corrupts Gollum, to the extent that even when he’s separated from it, he is consumed by desire to possess the ring again. He loses all sense of goodness. He doesn’t have reasoning power, other than to pursue the ring, possess it again.

It really brings to mind again, that image of the “hungry ghosts that I talked about on the previous episode, when I talked about success culture, and the problem with success culture, and how it is extreme. I mean, fairly hungry ghosts and Gollum, we humans don’t go that far. But these are extreme ideas to show you what could happen when we’re consumed by desire, by need to achieve something.

So that was my little sidetrack. I hope that by using the personalities, by examining the characters and Lord of the Rings, it showed you what I really mean by the heart, the head, and the body. And like I said, I want to repeat, all three of these are important. I believe the answer is to have all three working together, but allowing the heart to select the direction. Making decisions from the heart, but then also listening to your body, listening to your nervous system, and utilizing the positive aspects of your head in order to implement, in order to plan in your business.

So the answer is to have all three work together, but to lead with the heart. That is the thesis I could say of this entire True Self series. Bu,t of course, I know that is challenging to do. Many of us humans, we kind of have lost touch with the heart over the years or decades or centuries, even. Many of us think something is intuition, something is coming from our gut, when really, it is actually coming from our false self.

And next week, I’m going to go into learning how to tell when something really is coming from your heart, or from the true self versus whether it’s coming from your false self. Because here’s the bottom line: if you raise the head above the heart, you take away what it really means to be human. And none of us want to do that. Okay, guys, that’s all I have for this week. I’ll see you on the next episode.

If you’re ready to thrive in business, I want to invite you to join Business Growth Lab. This is my group program where I teach you the exact process I and my students have used to grow profitable businesses we love. When you join the lab, you get lifetime access to everything you need to grow a six-figure business, the training, expert coaching, accountability, and community. The approach we take is scientific. We don’t dabble in business, and we don’t waste time. You’ll create your business on a solid foundation, using proven methods. To join, go to We’ll see you inside.


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