In High school English, our teacher had us read dozens of Indian Animal Parables. You have probably heard the one about the blind men and the elephant. That’s a classic. There is another one I’ve always remembered that was more meaningful to me. It goes:
A man was walking in the wilderness and realized he was being stalked by a tiger. He was near a cliff with a vine hanging down to the ground, so he starting climbing down the vine, knowing the tiger could not follow. He was about halfway down with the tiger staring at him hungrily when a lion at the bottom of the cliff noticed him. The man was trapped dangling on the vine, a lion below and a tiger above. Two mice, one black and one white, started to crew through the vine above him. There was nothing else for him to hang onto. It was then that he noticed a strawberry plant growing on the cliff with one ripe strawberry on it. The man picked it and ate it and it was sweet.
Yes. That is the end of the parable. We leave the man hanging from a cliff over a lion with strawberry juice dripping down his chin. I always assumed he died shortly after the story ends but that isn’t the point of the parable. The man, even in the midst of a calamity not of his own making took the time to stop and enjoy that which was sweet. The strawberry was probably even sweeter to him knowing the doom that awaited him. While we may not find ourselves dangling from a vine with two predatory cats looking to make a meal out of us, at least not twice, we all find ourselves obligated to times and places we don’t want to be and doing things we don’t want to do. We should pull as much joy, learning and growth from those situations as we can.
I told this parable to my class the other day. My course (marketing foundations) is a required course and the majority of students aren’t marketing majors. If it were up to them, they wouldn’t take ANY marketing classes. Unfortunately for them, it is required. While I try to make it as interesting and valuable for them, I encourage them to taste the strawberry while they are there.
What is your destination? Do you know? Are you letting the the route dominate your mind and forgetting what’s really important. And I’m talking metaphorically.
I’m a planner normally. Well by comparison to my wife, I fly by the seat of my pants but by most standards I’m a bit obsessive with plans. When my wife and I vacation, we know where we are going to stay and have the hotels booked in advanced. We know the things we want to see and I’ll have their websites, locations and hours tucked away in my files. We have a pretty good idea of where we will eat by meal. Once we start the vacation, many of our plans go out the window as we adapt to the flow of the vacation. Winston Churchill once said that, “Plans are of little importance but planning is essential.” Whenever you need a good quote either Churchill or Mark Twain typically come through.
Why am I telling you about our vacation planning? Sometimes having a plan can be detrimental to achieving you goal. Sometimes you keeping working the plan even though the situation has changed. In our vacation planning, our goal isn’t to get to the top of the Washington Monument. It is to enjoy ourselves, to bond with the kids and to taking a break from our normal stressors. Making it to the top of the Washington Monument is an exciting thing but with the kids would rather just play in the pool, that may be a better path to our destination.
I’m reading, “Take off your shoes” by Ben Feder. He is telling a story of taking a sabbatical from a high power executive career. The main purpose is to reestablish family relationships and connections. On their way to their destination, Bali, they took a two week safari in Africa. Ben talks about getting anxious that the safari is delaying his family from their destination. He was getting fixated on his path, not his true goal. Bounding with his family could be done in Africa as easily as Bali.
The lesson is to not let you plans and planning to get in the way of your goals. Focus on what is important to you. Situations change and so must your plans.
How I work with my clients has evolved over the last couple of years. Originally, I only offered weekly hour long sessions with a mix of live and virtual interactions. However, we covered too much in an hour so that many of my clients felt overwhelmed with the homework they had to do.
I started offering a biweekly hour long call, only via phone. That gave my clients more time to do their homework. Unfortunately, that also meant a loss of accountability. To help with that, I added text and email support between calls. Some clients go for the weekly offering, especially in the beginning but most prefer biweekly.
Now, by client request, I’m adding another option. I’m offering a weekly 30 minute call supported by text and emails in between. The thirty minute format will require that we really stay on task and will help prevent my clients from taking on too much in between sessions. The text/email also adds accountability. I’m really excited about this new option.
Reach out if you are stuck and need someone to help push and drive you out of your slump.
Please share this post. You never know who in your life is floundering and needs a hand or a boot on their behind.
This came up again recently with a client. He is looking to find new connections (networking) on the road to landing contract work. He’s having a bit of a blockage making those phone calls. I’ve had other clients who had similar blockages asking for introductions for a new job. There is something about making those calls that is blocking these professionals because it feels like they are asking for help. These otherwise talented and skilled professionals have a weakness. They are used to being the ones to offer help.
A simple shift of perspective can help. My client is a confident, talented professional. He is not asking for help. He is offering to help. The greatest need of businesses and organizations is talent. Finding that talent can be very difficult. My client has done the hard work of finding a skilled professional for the person he is calling…….himself. He has already saved them a lot of effort. He is now offering to bring his skills and talents into their organization.
Are you having a hard time reaching out to someone? Are you really asking that person for help or are you offering your services? Share this link if you know someone who’s having a hard time networking. Comment below if you want to share your stories or get another point of view.
Only 8% of people succeed in their New Year’s Resolutions. That is 92% of people create a goal that is important to them, commit to themselves to go after the goal and then fail to achieve it. 25% of them don’t even make it through the first week before they give up on their goals. Most people simply aren’t willing to commit to their dreams.
One of the most common reasons people fail to achieve their goals is that they are afraid of failing. One study showed that a significant percent of people don’t even apply for jobs that might be a bit of a stretch. They are too embarrassed. What if they get the interview and aren’t qualified……how embarrassing! I hope you read that with as much sarcasm as I intended, because I intended a lot of sarcasm. Buckets and buckets full.
Imagine what you could accomplish if you were not afraid to fail. The reality is reality isn’t likely to be holding you back. It isn’t your education or your looks. It isn’t your speaking ability or your financial resources. These are obstacles but other’s have overcome them, why not you? Tom Petty is a singer? Some people think Keith Richards was a sex symbol? Donald Trump is the president? Think about that one for a minute. If these people achieved their goals, why not you?
Achieving a goal is like building a bridge. Slow down. Take a step, just one step today, and work toward your goal. Don’t worry about the end. Don’t worry about other people’s impression. Just take a step today and then another.
When a loved one is hurt, lost or just anxious, do you really need them to meet you half way? Right now, while they are in pain, do they really need to move to meet you at all? Love them unconditionally. Go to where they need you to be and love them. Just be available. Don’t put preconditions, obligations or expectations on your love. Simply accept them, not only who they are when they are at their best but accept them for who they are when they are at their worst. There is no score to keep in love.
We were at a pool over the weekend and a child was getting a private swimming lesson from one of the lifeguards. The kid was working to pass the deep end test but couldn’t quite get his backstroke right. The lifeguard told the boy, “Point your toes, when you kick.” The boy yelled, “That’s what I was doing!” That is the point when the boy stopped learning and improving. He was insistent that he was doing everything right, despite not getting the results he wanted.
How many times do we do that as adults? Whether it is from a boss, spouse, friend or co-worker, how many times has someone given us a positive critic but we took it as criticism. Sometimes it hurts to say that we aren’t doing something right. Sometimes it is hard to admit that we need to do better. Growth is hard but we can do it. Sometimes all we have to do is listen.