Reviewed by Toby Johnson
When I was first putting up the White Crane Journal website nearly a decade ago now, and discovering that creating links with other websites was the key to carving out a space for oneself on the worldwide web, I found a site called Gay Evolution. The goal of this website was an online community of Lesbian and Gay people committed to personal growth and the general principles of the human potential movement. Gay Evolution proved — not surprisingly, I suppose — a little ahead of its time. Online communities, like MySpace, hadn’t really evolved yet. And Gay Evolution was idealistic, not just social. It came to function primarily as a referral site for career and personal coaches. It certainly assisted me as editor, back then, of White Crane Journal in learning of Gay professionals across the country. But then in the notorious shakeup of the dot-coms and retrenching of the Internet, the Gay Evolution site got left behind.
I’ve stayed friends, and occasional correspondent, with one of the founders of Gay Evolution, the man who now goes by the name Souldancer. He has evolved himself, staying on that cutting edge, now offering, as he says, “a unique blend of multicultural ancient wisdom with the best of global business practices.” Souldancing: The Path of the Masters is the name he gives his approach to personal coaching and set of techniques for helping clients improve their lives and create happiness and satisfaction for themselves. And, of course, Souldancing is the source of the name he’s adopted for himself.
He has now produced a workbook-like text presentation summarizing one of the central themes from his coaching practice. And he has titled it with one of the great complaints career coaches must deal with all the time: “Pay Me What I’m Worth.” From a practical perspective — and that is what coaches specialize in, being practical and realistic — this is one of the most common sources of dissatisfaction with work people have: their job doesn’t pay them what they’re worth, which is to say, what they need to be happy and fulfilled as human beings.
The title might sound like simply instructions in asking for a raise. And it is that, but that is only a small part of the book. For to ask for a raise, Souldancer says, you need to believe you’re worth more to your employer because you believe in your own worth. So while there’s a little advice about how to properly and effectively word a request for a raise, that business practice offers the occasion for a much broader and richer quest for understanding what you really want (and need at the karmic/soul level) from the work you do. That is to say that the preparation for asking for a raise is really a quest to understand what your life is for.
The book offers a series of 33 exercises, all of them aimed at producing a so-called “Worth Passport.” The techniques are all pretty simple—like making post-it notes identifying your positive traits or your personal possessions, skills, and talents, then sorting them in various ways. You need to be able to assess your “worth” if you’re going to ask somebody else to pay you for it. And in the process, you discover there is so much more to you than just what you do in a job or what they pay you for. Producing your “Worth Passport” results in a major investigation of patterns in your whole life. And so the technique for determining occupational worth opens out into a practice for increasing self-esteem, confidence and sense of well-being.
Remember, Souldancer says he is blending good business practice with multicultural ancient wisdom. So it’s not surprising that the mercenary question about salary requirements turns into a spiritual inventory. As the exercises continue, they demonstrate that giving is the way to get and that integrity and ethical living is the best success and the way to get paid by life with happiness and fulfillment.
So the thing about asking for a raise is really a hook to pull you toward enlightenment and wisdom.
If you really are wanting help to ask for a raise, this book could be very useful. There’s good practical advice. BUT it is likely to transform you way beyond just getting a better salary.
For the purpose of writing a review, I read the book fast without actually doing the exercises. I’m sure I’d had benefited more fully if I had done them. But I want to attest that the book was interesting, occasionally eye-opening, and beneficial just read as a presentation on how people’s self-image and self-worth manifests itself in the details of their real lives.
So just like my finding Gay Evolution in the early days of the Internet, I suppose, Souldancer’s gimmick is to link all the various hungers we have for “more” in our lives into the great hunger for personal fulfillment and love. It’s the links that count. This is a useful book on many levels!