Over-the-top

There have been times where a customer walks in and I greet them, exuberantly – because that’s how I do – and they respond with disbelieving sarcasm.   There was one time where it actually hurt my feelings a little bit, when a customer mocked my tone. Sure! I’m a sales-person in a shoe-store, and Yes! I’m aware that people who feel cared for and attended to will have a better experience in a business like ours than those who are ignored and treated with indifference, but my awareness of these facts does not preclude the verity – I’m excited and happy to meet new people, see familiar faces, help someone find the shoe that fits the best.

Things aren’t always mutually exclusive.

In defense of being over-the-top, it takes a certain amount of vulnerability to step out of yourself, ignoring the ‘moderating voice’ that doesn’t think you should say that thing or be that guy.   It takes a little bit of courage to be.. to BE.. to put yourself in the position that you ARE engaged, concerned, listening, helping.. when you know others might view your intensity as something self-serving or somehow dirty.

Sometimes, when I’m not feeling it, I bring it anyway and guess what?   I begin to feel it. So did I manufacture it?   Is IT real?  Should I apologize because I forced myself out of myself and into someone who cares about what’s going on with the customer, friend, spouse, parent, etc.?

It’s not even ‘fake it ’til’ you make it’, and it’s not acting either – it’s just deciding that you aren’t the only soul alive in the world who is experiencing life from a singular perspective.  In fact, you’re an actor in everyone else’s play whether you like it or not.

You get to be whoever you want – so you might as well be over-the-top helpful, good, kind, loving, caring, vulnerable, accepting and on and on.

The alternative sucks.

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Thank You.

There are people out there who are binary, in the sense that your encounter with them, as a new business owner, will either be ‘yes’ or ‘no’.   They have that kind of power.  A word on their social networks could change your life.   An at-cost loan from them could give you the necessities you need to run your business smoothly and professionally.   The advice they have to offer could help you avoid making the kinds of mistakes that eventually kill start-ups like yours.

Sometimes they are aware of this power.  Sometimes, it is so normalized in their lives that they don’t even recognize it.   So many people fawn over them or try to get that angle with them – blow smoke up their ass, so to speak – that they have developed a routine rejection.   Much like the, “Sorry, I’m on plastic!” I use at circle K stations when homeless people ask for money.

That’s their perspective.

From a starting business’ perspective, I have to be on point and ready.   Somehow, I have to differentiate myself from the rabble.   Maybe shake up their expectations.  I mean, I could play that game and that’s the game that’s being played but.. I have a better idea. How about I put my head to the grind-stone, I do my work and I keep grinding away, I treat everyone equally and treat everyone like a human being, and I leave it up to fate.  I mean, that sounds great and even bragadocious, but that’s not always what I do.   Most of the time I get caught up in the aforementioned BS and find myself wringing my hands hoping I said the right word in the right phrase in exactly the right tone at precisely the right time.. Oh my!  Oh my!  Oh my!

But for all my waffling and on-again-off-again self-confidence, there have been folks who, despite my short-comings – and beleive me, they saw some of my weaknesses, I’m sure – they still supported me.   They still lifted me up and helped me for no other reason than they wanted to.

There’s a level of trust there.   When someone puts you on blast specifically to help your fledgeling business, they just put themselves on the line for you.   It’s not that they’re willing to look bad if you do a bad job – they go way further than that becuase they’re willing to fail with you.   Talk about motivation to succeed!   They hang in there with you while you stumble around blindly, trying to learn the ropes, not seeing the finer points when you’re so interested in being understood and not understanding.   Damn!  They protect you when you don’t even know you need protecting – saving you possible hurt, damage and even the destruction of your business.   They even make sure you have some of the basic necessities in your life.

I’m here to tell you that as I go forward, failing, I will never fail because I will learn and try again.   And when I succeed from level to level, and as I grow, I will always remember those who said ‘Yes’ when it meant the most – and I will honor them, by saying ‘Yes’, too.

Thank you all so much.   Destination U is only possible for the deep support and generosity that so many have shown me – you truly inspire me to believe, with all my heart, that anything is possible with friends like mine.

 

The things that matter the most.

Connection.

Connecting with others in meaningful ways matters tremendously.   It’s an area that I’m working on and, while I’m not awful, I’ve got a good ways to go too.

One way I fail at connecting is by not paying attention.   Whether it’s my phone or even something as simple as thinking about what I’m going to say next, instead of listening.  I want to be understood more than I want to understand, sometimes.   That’s pretty common, too.   Sometimes, I have to ask my wife what she just said, because I was thinking about something else.

Maybe not all conversations have to be this intense exchange or lightning-bolt thunderous exposition, but we need that, too!   Besides, it’s really fun to connect with those you love and care about.  It’s fun to connect to strangers too.   We LIVE for connections like this.

Connections move us closer to empathy.  Connecting moves us closer to love, and love is one of those things, if not THE thing, that matters the most.

 

Life Coach

This morning I was listening to Brooke Castillo talk about having a life-coach.   This isn’t completely new to me.  When I read Jenn Sincero’s book “How to be a badass at making money”, having a life-coach was integral to her success and her growth.   Everywhere you look in the self-improvement world, people are talking about having a mentor – that someone who has been there, been knocked around maybe but learned from their mistakes and bring valuable insights that we are hard-wired to ignore or dismiss.

This idea of having a life-coach?   It terrifies me.   I don’t want to go into a relationship like this and bare my soul.  I don’t want to get into these discussions about all the skeletons in my closet, why I am the way I am, how disgusting and vile my thoughts and motives and thought-patterns are.   I freaking HATE those kinds of conversations! They seem like pity parties wrapped up in competitive sadness!  I don’t want to admit anything.  I don’t feel very comfortable with having someone drill down on something that hurts.   How am I going to feel when they call me out on my bullshit?   How good is that going to be when they hit me between the eyes with some hard truth?

What am I going to do if my life-coach agrees with me that I’m a piece of shit?  A coward?  Lazy?

Terrified is not a strong enough word.   That’s some next-level vulnerability.

But here’s the thing – I feel pretty strongly that all of those things I just mentioned being afraid of, terrified by, and all these thoughts that harrass me.. those are the areas I need to stop running away from.

Up to this point, I’ve done a pretty good job of staying comfortable, even in my discomfort, I’m still in control, still aware of my discomfort, and that somehow disassociates me from it in a way that is comfortable.   That’s gotta go.

Next Level?  Ready or not.. here I come!

I’m that guy

You know the one.  You saw him a while back and he was full of ideas, piss and vinegar. He was going places, doing things, shaking it up.   Plans upon plans, shower-thoughts galore, stoner dreams of tomorrow.. he was really going to break away any second now!

But then, you see him years later and.. wouldn’t you know it.. he’s still the same guy, only older, and he hasn’t done shit.   He’s still talking and flapping his gums about all the things he’s going to do.. someday.. and he’s still as exciting as ever but now?  Now you know that the dude isn’t really going anywhere.   He’s missing that one key componant and for all his bravado and daily motivation-showers, he just can’t get to the point where he’s pulling the trigger on any of it.   Videos, books, conferences all stand-in for real action and that equals one thing; inaction!

But me?  Why am I that guy?

A couple of years ago, we had a sick cat.   She was going downhill fast and we couldn’t really afford to do anything for her except ease her suffering.  It was really painful.  Back then, I took it as part of my life motivation to never be in that circumstance again; it was time to start taking care of shit, making money to the point of being able to spend what had to be spent in order to care for this animal we loved and maybe give her another few good years before she really would have to cross the rainbow bridge.   Not to mention my debts, the amount of hours I spend working at either my job, my part time second job or my personal business – I’m still talking about being in that financial position where I don’t have to rely on credit cards, or I don’t have to worry about whether I’m going to pay down my Student Loan versus taking care of some other pressing need.

I’m not going to complain here about my finances – I just want to be free of it.

But now we have another cat that’s sick and needing some expensive TLC and guess what?  For all my progress, I’m still not there and I’m still talking.   One part of me doesn’t want to be so hard on myself, right?  What does that get me?  But look!  It’s time to stop making excuses about siphoning off my precious time here on earth in front of this damned computer, writing shit, reading shit, getting pissed off by political shit, getting entertained by funny shit, hour after hour, day after day.. when I could be doing other shit.  Important shit and shit that advances my cause and the things I give a shit about.

Where I am may be light-years from where I started, but I can’t live on yesterdays accomplishments.. that’s gone, done, and over-with.

There’s no better way to waste today than by basking in the fading glow of yesterday’s glory!

Where I want to be seems to be light-years from where I am now.  I may have pulled many a trigger in the past but right now I’m not pulling the biggest ones  – I’m scared -and there’s some serious work to do.

Doesn’t matter: I am that guy who stopped talking about it and did it.

Worry-wart

When I was taking some classes in the Eller School of Business, we were told to manage ‘our brand’, meaning, our personal brand.  That if you say the wrong thing in a business meeting or if you are continually cracking jokes, you might end up with a label (or brand) that you won’t be happy with; ‘can’t be taken seriously’, ‘awkward and insecure’, ‘motivated by the wrong things’.

You have to always be circumspect with how you carry yourself, the image you exude, and never give anyone any kind of ammunition against you.

I suppose, on a level, that’s good advice but, as in all things, it has to have some balance.

For myself, personally, I definitely have it in my conscious mind that the things I say and do resonate with others in different ways and ripple outward to form a general image of who I am.   A perception of myself in the world isn’t just the next best thing – it’s the only thing.   Navigating each encounter, coming off too earnest or not earnest enough, taking things too personally or not personally enough, guessing what it is that others might be expecting and either giving it to them or being calculating enough to do something else that they hadn’t thought of but might be equally pleased with – or moreso.

It’s a very complicated dance with shadows and immaterial unknowns.   It’s not good.

When I begin to worry about what others might have said about me – and I’m embarassed to admit that I do this all too often – I begin to form a narrative that is unceasingly and unsurprisingly negative.   I don’t actually KNOW what was said about me or how the zeitgeist of my received perception in the world actually manifests – but with my narrative in hand, I begin to see how it could be plausible that my suspicions are true, after all.

This is called confirmation bias because I only count the instances that support my theory as evidence that my theory is true while not even registering all the instances that disprove or diminish my theory.

So I have this idea that people have sullied my image by gossiping about me and saying negative things or harping on my failings – damaging my brand, as it were.   And the McLelland side of things puts that blame right back on me; “If you don’t want people to say negative things about you, don’t do things that will cause them to say negative things about you!”.   Well, that’s true enough.  I have done and said things that I wish I could take back, behaved in ways that aren’t making me feel too good about myself, and I’ve failed more times than I would like to admit.   In that vein, I’ve also done some incredibly kind and amazing things and actually been a damned close version of myself that I really admire and love too.   I’ve done everything in between.  You could say, I’m all over the map.

And maybe people are saying things that aren’t flattering and that hurt me without me knowing.   But here’s the thing – I don’t control that.  I can’t control that.   That’s not on me – if it’s even true – that’s on them and that’s on those who listen to them.   Not everyone has to love me or be supportive of me.   There’s no law that states my opinions and actions can’t be criticized.   There are no edicts that say I have any bussiness messing around in the thoughts of others – even if those thoughts concern me!

No.

Sometimes I think we really are meant to be somewhat idiotic in the manner in which we conduct ourselves; immune to the hostility of others, single-minded simplicity to our own endeavors, impossibly kind to everyone and innocent to all.   And stop worrying so damned much about useless shit.

The pain is the path

When you put yourself in uncomfortable and usually new situations, you have suddenly gained access to a whole chain of possibility that was closed to you previously.   The veins of binary decisions made from that single turn fan out like branches, then leaves then tiny veins – all destinations that were completely closed to you when you refused to even consider making the tough choice or the choice that would inevitably make you look dumb, vulnerable, weak and stupid.

When you put yourself in that position where you don’t have enough strength to push out one more repetition, or you don’t have a chance in hell of getting the job or the hottie you have your eye on – when you get in these areas of your life where your brain is screaming, “You have no business here!” or “Who the hell do you think you are?” it gets really fucking scarey really fucking quick.   You choke.. and then you choke some more. It’s a waking nightmare really, to be in that position where you’re less than nobody. Instead, you’re annoying and you make everyone else uncomfortable.  It’s like watching someone implode on stage while performing or giving a speech and it’s obvious they’re so lost that it makes you want to cringe.

It hurts to be that vulnerable.

But you know what?   Turning your face into that uncomfortable sun will lead you places you never dreamed of when you begin to ask yourself, “Why not, me?”.   Putting yourself in the apex of all eyes will introduce you to others who don’t judge you on what you did, or even on how well you did it, but only on WHY you did it.   Believe me!  You will meet some of the most extraordinary people if you do extra-ordinary things.

Let this be of some solace to you that, when you feel uncomfortable, growth is in the offing.  When you feel scared, being strong is around the corner.  When you feel weak, strength will be yours if you do not quit.   And in all of these and more, your progress will be of the highest quality when, in the face of vulnerability, pain, discomfort – you lean into it.

The pain is the path.