Bishop T.D. Jakes had a powerful message for his Essence Festival audience on Friday: trust your instincts. “Intellect loads the gun,” Jakes said during a one-on-one conversation with Essence editorial projects director Patrik Henry Bass. “But instinct pulls the trigger. You’ve got to have both.” Jakes, whose latest book, Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Unborn Drive, launched in May, compared the various worlds we float between—families, work, friendships, relationships—to jungles, each with their own ecosystems, predators and rules.
In order to become successful, Jakes said, we must learn to function within each jungle we encounter, if we don’t Jakes said, we can be eaten alive. The bishop also said we all face barriers that limit us, but they shouldn’t keep us from taking leaps of faith. “I came to tell you, you lions who are trapped in lives that are too small for you: the gate is open,” Jakes remarked. Another thing holding us back, according to Jakes, is the unwillingness of those with power and influence to reach back and uplift those who are still struggling to find their way. Without help, many Americans looking to reach new heights in their lives have to start from “ground zero.” Jakes’ passion for reaching back is what drove him to write Instinct, which serves as an outline for those looking to reshape and refocus their lives. “Our people are not lazy, they’ve been limited,” Jakes said. “I’ve seen a lot of people who work tirelessly, hustling, but don’t know how to turn the hustle into a business.” Following the talk, Jakes signed copies of his latest book at the Essence Festival Bookstore.