A Spoonful of Chocolate

Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess who was on a diet. She
really wanted a spoonful of Hershey’s syrup from the can in the
refrigerator. But no, that wasn’t allowed. So she had some carrot sticks
instead. Then some celery. But that didn’t satisfy her desire. So she had
some more carrots. And then a peanut butter sandwich. And another one. And then she ate the entire can of chocolate syrupWhat’s your spoonful of chocolate? Have you been denying yourself something you truly want because you think you shouldn’t have it or you’re not allowed? Sometimes what looks like self-indulgence is really just a response to a deep yearning. Satisfy it at an early stage and you won’t have painful repercussions later on.Getting what you DON’T want can help you clarify. When I was in seventh grade I REALLY wanted an ID bracelet. I managed to convince my father to get me one for Easter. I realized quickly afterwards that it wasn’t the bracelet itself I wanted. The cute guy I had a crush on needed to have given it to me. I got stuck on the tangible thing and misidentified what was ultimately important.

Refine and adjust. Get as close as you can to identifying your true desire. Separate what’s truly essential and what’s just nice to have. A while back I got it in my head that I wanted to be married. My beloved of 14 years didn’t feel the same. I could have made a big issue of it but instead I distilled
what was most important. For me at the time the bottom line was a ring and to be able to call him my husband. I didn’t require the rest. This made the goal much more attainable.

Give it to yourself. Don’t settle for carrot sticks when you really want Hershey’s syrup. And don’t eat the whole can when a spoonful is all you really want. If you get in the habit of identifying and satisfying your
deepest desires then true satisfaction becomes a whole lot easier. I never got the right ID bracelet, but I did get the wedding ring AND the license to go with it. I have my spoonful of chocolate and life is sweet.

My Current Thoughts
on the relationship between Self-Expression, Imagination, & Creativity Self-expression is the development of who you are– trying it on, showing the world. Imagination is about dreaming up possibilities and new ideas. Creativity is about putting those ideas together in new ways. You need
imagination to see beyond your limits. You need creativity to move beyond what binds you. Your life is your canvas. What do you see?

The Courage to Trust – a How-To Guide

lbb courage jpgThe other day I was reviewing some affirmations and noticed a clenched feeling in my chest while reading one. Something felt out of whack and was sending me signals. The affirmation read “I have a steady, predictable income.” Now there’s nothing negative about those words but somehow it felt like looking through the wrong end of the binoculars. It made me think of lack instead of abundance. Something surprising happened as I realized this. The idea of rejecting predictability and embracing the unknown gave me an enormous burst of energy and excitement. I felt certain that this was right for me and that feeling continues.

It’s as though my orientation has changed from security to possibility, from the bird in the hand to the two in the bush. Fortune favors the brave. I will get more of what I want– more joy, more energy, more blessings– by increasing my trust than by protecting against fear. The opposite is also true– the more I fear, the more limited my world, the more I settle for less.

What moves you further along the continuum from fear to trust? Courage develops incrementally. I’m not recommending that you go from agoraphobic to professional public speaker in one fell swoop. You’re not supposed to feel terrified. Start with small steps and build on your success. Little by little you can let go of what you can control and embrace the unknown. Here are some examples of ways that make it easier:

Katrina had some anxiety about starting grad school so she planned a practice run to the campus to get the lay of the land and find her way around. Now that the logistics are handled she feels better able to manage all the other new elements of what’s to come.

Lorraine was asked to attend a community organization to represent her group’s issue. She was intrigued but scared. A friend who was part of the organization gave her a blow by blow of the meeting– what would happen, who would be there, how they’d be dressed. That description made the event substantially less frightening.

High Value
It’s a whole lot easier to be courageous when you truly want something. Jane loves her local museum and always wanted to become a docent. Though shy in groups, she was determined to volunteer, and enjoyed the first meeting without dread or social anxiety.

Low Risk
One thing that helped Jane was to figure out the worst possible outcome and determine its likelihood. They probably weren’t going to laugh and point, and if she tripped when she walked in she could get up and say “Tah Dah!”

You’re in Charge
Your hand controls the reins of how much discomfort you can handle. You get to choose whether to go or stay. When Tom Smith was training Seabiscuit he didn’t try to force the horse to do what he refused. Smith let Seabiscuit discover that he had choice. You don’t need to be defensive or resistant when you’re the one in charge.

There’s safety in numbers. Things always seem less frightening when you do it with a friend. Maybe it’s just misery loves company. Whatever the motivation, friends offer support, and help bring out your biggest self. I’m often my boldest and most outrageous with my friend Gina. She’s got me doing stuff on stage that I never imagined possible, but I feel safe in her company.

Higher Power
No courage How-To list would be complete without trust in God. I’m a novice in spiritual matters and only just learning how faith operates in my life. Suffice it to say that being part of something infinite and all-powerful can definitely give you a leg up.

So maybe courage is simply portable safety– finding it within yourself rather than seeking it from the world; generating it as needed and always having the right amount– no more, no less. That’s certainly a productive use of resources.

Determine the desired outcome

If this meeting goes really well what would be the result? What would be different? What would we have?
Figuring out precisely what you want at the end of the meeting fuels the engine and guides the steering wheel. Do you want a decision? A list of options? A plan of next steps? A good feeling about one another? If you don’t determine the outcome how will you know if you successfully reached it?

More than any other factor, a vaguely described outcome is responsible for meetings that last too long. You don’t know when to stop because you don’t know where you’re going. If you planned an hour but achieved the desired outcome in 20 minutes you can adjourn. If you realize you can’t get there without additional resources you can close and meet again when you have them.

What needs to happen? In what order? What processes shall we use?

Once you know the purpose and the outcome you want (the “what”) you can choose which route to take (the “how”). If the purpose is to solve a problem and at the end of the meeting you want an action plan then a number of steps must take place. In order to determine actions you need a solution that everyone understands and agrees to. In order to reach agreement you might want some discussion about obstacles to the chosen solution. Before that, you choose this solution from among many suggestions based on selection criteria that everyone thinks are important. And first and foremost you need a clear statement of the problem so that everyone is starting at the same place.

When you’re planning the meeting look at the outcome you want and work backwards from there. What will you need to have in order to produce that deliverable? Each step should build on the one before.

Without any kind of design a free-form meeting will end up with everyone talking at cross-purposes, following his or her own line of interest. This can be chaotic and time-consuming, and you may or may not end up with your desired outcome.