perspective

More Good Things (2 minute read)

The little boy in 3A couldn’t have been older than four. Dressed in suspenders and a collared shirt, the first class seat swallowed his miniature frame, making him look like a teeny CEO. 

He was smiling and as I shuffled by I heard him say, “Good things. Good things. More good things!” Judging by his first class window seat, I couldn’t help but think, “Man, that kiddo has clearly mastered this manifestation stuff!”

After a nearly 4 hour delay my fellow passengers would have probably liked to see the young lad manifest us an on-time departure, but he’ll get there folks, give him time.

As we taxied out for takeoff his little voice repeated in my ears, “Good things. Good things. More good things.” What struck me about what he said was his tone. One might assume a boy of his age would be asking for or demanding, “more good things”, but his tone suggested an attitude of appreciation.

He was grateful. 

Last week I got a call from a friend who coaches women’s soccer in the Ivy League. She’s a great coach, and her teams have been successful, I think, largely because she’s in constant search of that extra something. Anything she can gift her team that will benefit them this season and in the many seasons of their lives after college. 

“Bets, we’re in pre-season and I wondered if you could do a webinar for our team. The past few years we’ve covered every topic from leadership to grit to mental toughness to resilience. The one topic we’ve yet to dive into is gratitude. It’s not that our kids aren’t grateful - they are - I just think there’s something more to explore there.”

Handing over the creative reigns she allowed me to design a customized 45-minute webinar and “A Season of Gratitude” came into existence. Citing work from some of the leading gratitude researchers across the country, we talked about the ways in which gratitude is a choice, a skill, a matter of perspective, and a competitive advantage. We discussed how gratitude improves sleep quality and increases athletic performance, while at the same time decreasing stress and depression. 

We applied gratitude to adversity and one insightful comment after the next tumbled from the players as they practiced, collectively, the quality of being grateful. 

During our time together they reaffirmed for me that gratitude isn’t simply a choice, a skill, a matter of perspective or a competitive advantage. It’s a way of living. 

While sitting in the airport terminal I heard countless passengers bemoan the inconvenience and rage against circumstances they could not control. 

Yet as our delayed flight rose into the now sunset-soaked sky I couldn’t help but think,

“More good things”.

[Thank you for reading and continuing to share! If you'd like to create a 45-minute gratitude experience for your workplace or team, let's connect and make it happen!]
 

Do You Suck or Are You Due?

Let’s set the stage: Major League Baseball is featuring Game 3 of the National League Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets. The series is tied 1-1 and it’s the top of the 2nd inning. The score is 0-0 with two outs and runners on 1st and 2nd as Yasmani Grandal steps up to the plate for the Dodgers.

A stat pops up on the screen and the announcers tell us that Mets fans have something to cheer about as Grandal is a whopping 0-22 when at bat with runners in scoring position.

My friend’s Dad, an ex-Dodger himself, says “Alright Bets, 0 for 22… does he suck or is he due?”

The optimist inside me screamed, “He’s DUUUUUE!!” and was promptly punched in the gut by the reality of 0 for 22. Reality told me 0 for 22 was bad. Really bad.  If I knew nothing about baseball and you asked me if I wanna put a guy at bat who hasn’t driven in a run the last 22 times he’s had the opportunity I’d think you were crazy.

0 for 22. Does he suck or is he due?

The pitcher wound up and Grandal answered our question with a bullet through the gap to drive in both runners. He was DUE!

The Mets went on to win Game 3 but I can’t stop thinking about Grandal and the question, “Does he suck or is he due?”

The poor guy failed 22 times before he succeeded in driving in a run.  With the weight of going 0 for 22 staring him in the face, something in Grandal defied the odds and changed the game.

Think about it - in Grandal’s situation it would be sooooo easy to suck. So simple to get up there, take your cuts, and sit down at 0 for 23. I mean what’s one more of the same when 22 tries have all told you “you can’t.”

Now think about this – what an incredible difference it would make to think with every failure that you’re now one step closer to success.

0 for 22 is a lot of failure. 0 for 22 makes a strong case for sucking. And, 0 for 22 is a helluva stage for success.

Think about where you’ve been failing recently. What is it you arguably suck at? Where is it uncomfortable to go right now? What could happen that hasn’t yet?

The choice is up to you if you suck or if you’re due.

Let’s change the game ;)

Life Lessons, Change

11 Words said in a Volkswagon

It’s 2006 and my twin brother Chris is driving us along picturesque 280 just south of San Francisco. He’s come up from LA for the weekend and I’m filling him in on the end of what had been the longest relationship of my life at that point. The person I’d been dating was now dating my co-worker and in full “woe is me” fashion I laid out a few scenarios for next steps and asked Chris what I should do.

He was silent for a moment, and then he said something that I will refer back to for the rest of my life.

“Sometimes you just need to let things take their organic shape.”

11 words. 

The fact that we were 23 at the time and riding in my parents 87′ Volkswagen Vanagon made it sound like the most hippie/stoner thing he’d ever said. (For the record, my brother doesn’t smoke weed.) He does, however, have a knack for being wise beyond his years and though I didn’t fully grasp it in that moment, he was right. 

Lately I’ve been struggling to let things take their organic shape. In moving to a new place, starting a new business and meeting new people there is a lot of unknown. The unknown is exciting - but it’s also scary because so much seems out of our control. (Spoiler alert: it is.) When things are unknown and outside of our control we have a tendency to want to DO things. Action is a remedy for fear; being in control of something somehow tames the wildness of that which we can never truly harness. 

Every time I feel the need to DO something I think of those 11 words…

Often I find that the only thing I need to do is be patient. What I need to do is do less. I need to let go. Breathe. Stay open. Show up. See what happens.

Letting things take their organic shape isn’t a call for passivity or laziness. It’s honoring the space between no longer and not yet with all that you have.

Maybe things take the shape of an opportunity or adventure. Maybe things shape up to be a life lesson or unforeseen direction. And if things happen to take the organic shape or Ryan Gosling or Sophia Bush - please, call me!

Enjoy seeing how things shape up for you today :)

The Most Important Choice

“What if she doesn’t see the value?”

“What if she thinks it’s too expensive?”

“What if she says no?”

It’s 7:52 am and these were the thoughts that ran through my mind as I stood in the shower.

I was anxious for a very important phone call with the athletic director at a major university. She was interested in my communication workshop and this would be the call where I could potentially be hired. 

While massaging L’oreal’s Rosemary Juniper shampoo into my hair (which admittedly smells amazing!) I thought of all the ways in which I might need to defend my workshop and expertise.

Mid-rinse I realized that I was preparing for the worst; that ALL my thoughts were negative. 

I stopped rinsing, closed my eyes and thought,

“Come on Bets… only positive thoughts…only positive thoughts…”

That’s when it hit me.

Only. Positive. Thoughts. = O.P.T. and right then I could choose to “opt in” to positivity and change the way I thought about the upcoming call. 

“She’s gonna love it!”

“It will be fun to talk with someone who understands the value of investing in communication and wants to better her department.”

“This is just a conversation, not a sale. There’s nothing I need to do except show up and be myself.”

I opted in to positive thinking and not only did the athletic director say yes, she asked if I could do three workshops instead of just one.

Lately I’ve been conscious of the fact that we often forget that we have a choice. At any moment we can OPT IN to changing our thoughts, our attitude, our reactions to what life offers up.

Enjoy the weekend and remember,

     :(:

you decide. 

Yoda and a Grain of Sand

“And suddenly, that was all I could see.”

Lately I’ve come to believe it is no coincidence that Yoga and Yoda are so close in spelling. Some of my favorite yoga instructors sound like wise sages imparting bits of wisdom while they look at my downward dog and think, “Mmm, flexible you are not.”

One morning our class was led by a petite older man named Simbai. While he wasn’t green and wrinkly, he was very Yoda-like in his instruction: speaking little while masterfully guiding the force within us. At the conclusion of our practice he told us a story about the time he visited the Grand Canyon.

“I looked out over the expanse and was so moved by the incredible beauty.” he said. “To think that water and time had created this gigantic thing of wonder.”

“As I marveled at the view, a gust of wind blew a little bit of sand into my eye.” He winked and winced now to mimic the irritation that he felt.

“I cursed, and rubbed, and cured some more. Damn you, grain of sand!!” he bellowed.

“And suddenly, that was all I could see. Here I was on the edge of this Grand Canyon, and my entire focus had instantly been reduced to a tiny speck in my eye. I laughed, wondering how often I let something small take my attention away from all the good that surrounds me.”

“Maybe the sand in your eye is a person, or a situation, or a negative thought… Whatever it is, don’t let the little things keep you from seeing the beauty that is your life.”

[Aligns chakras. Walks off mat.]

Enjoy the long weekend my friends, and may the force of a larger perspective be with you.

The Ding-A-Ling

Glancing up from her keyboard, Carolyn said, “Well you look strong and athletic which is good, because you’re gonna need all that in a second here.”

“I am?” I asked, “Why’s that?”

A playful smile spread across her face, “Because you’re about to ring the biggest bell in the tower with one finger.”

Perhaps the most famous icon of the Chautauqua Institute is the Miller Bell Tower. Erected in 1911, it plays the Westminster Chimes every 15 minutes and the number of the hour on the hour. Many Chautauquans measure their days by the bells which also ring out 15 minutes of song at 8am, noon, and 6pm daily thanks to chimemaster Carolyn Benton. 

In a single day you’re sure to hear classics like “It’s a Small World” or “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and though she plays only hymns for the morning bells, Carolyn takes requests so “Happy Birthday” frequently slides into the lineup. 

Carolyn grew up coming to Chautauqua with her family and took over as chimemaster in 2002. 14 bells played by hand is no simple task, and when Carolyn started, well… she was so bad that folks dubbed her “the ding-a-ling”. 

Admitting that she’s always lived a little off-key, Carolyn embraced the name and over time has added her own twist on traditional songs as a tribute to having her bell rung when she first took over. 

“What folks don’t know is a few keys don’t work and we’ve got a bell or two that’s fallen out of tune”, she explained as I watched her play the evening bells. “But, that’s life. People judge what they don’t know and I’ve learned to accept it.”

I blushed and confessed to Carolyn that lately I’d been thinking the same - wondering why some tunes were off and why things didn’t always sound quite right.

“But the difference, honey, is that you’re here. You were a curious monkey and now you know.”

4… 3… 2… 1… “DONGGGGGGGGGGG”.

With one finger I rang the bell that weighs 3,200lbs. And, it was AWESOME!

Thank you, Carolyn, for letting me chime in and for the reminder to play our own tune regardless of how others may judge the music.

 

The Godfather

A bald Buddhist monk with black square glasses, deep voice, and a heavy New York accent led this morning’s meditation. He was like a mystic Don Corleone - the Godfather of meditation.

He got right to it by saying, “Dis is how iss gonna go. Weez gonna sit. Den weez gonna stretch foh a minute. Den weez gonna sit again. Zen like.”

After sitting “foh a minute” he began to guide us through a breathing exercise intended to help quiet the mind.

“Breed deep inta ya belly. Down inta da space two inches below ya navel, inta ya dantian (”dawn-tea-en”) - which, admittedly, sounded more like a mobster’s muscle head cousin tasked to guard the room’s donation basket than the space below my belly button.

With our minds now settled, our guide posed a question for our reflection. “Ask yaself, ‘What am I?’ an den youse gonna hit a wall called ‘I dunnoooo’. Just keep askin da question an hittin da wall. Exist in dat ‘dunno’ space.”

Mind you, it was barely past 7am and having yet to have breakfast, every time the man said “dunno space” I heard “doughnut place”.

Every time.

We sat, we stretched, we sat again, and the Godfather dismissed us at the end with, “Dat’s it. Ya done.”

Meditating with the Godfather was radically different than other meditations I’ve experienced. He was gruff, direct, and truly a spiritual gangster if ever there was one.

Lately I’ve been surprised at how easy it is to have situational expectations. I envision meditation being led by a sage-like man or woman with a soothing voice, sparkly eyes, and a ridiculously calming presence. Yet here was this guy, a Buddhist monk no less, who was none of those things while still having an undeniable presence and peace about him.

Thank you, meditation Godfather, for broadening my perspective on what meditation looks and sounds like. You’ve unknowingly made me an offer I can’t refuse by asking me to be more open to experiencing things as they are, not as they have been or “should” be.

Off to get a doughnut. Namaste.