From Here to There

What if there really are no instructions for getting from here to there? What if that feeling of discomfort, awkwardness, uncertainty

is the exact reason and the point of the yearning we are feeling about wanting to go from this point to that one.

We wake up one day and there’s an idea, a fleeting thought. We let it hang out in our minds for a few minutes, but we discard it quickly.

It’s crazy. 

I don’t know how. 

It won’t work. 

And if that has worked in the past for the ideas you’ve had, you might not know what I am talking about.

The idea that continues to penetrate, like Chinese water torture. With the persistence of a flowing river, eroding the rocks, creating its own path.

That is when we start to wonder.

What if it’s not so crazy?

What if I could learn how?

What if it does work?

Getting from here to there isn’t easy. And it’s not comfortable. And, hell, it might be crazy — to everyone around you, it probably will be — but there’s a reason it’s calling your name.

There’s a reason it won’t leave you alone.

Take one small action, keep your eyes open, stop asking for permission.

 

The Artist’s Dilemma

The Artist gives her heart to the cause. Her work, I’ve heard many times, isn’t for the audience.

It’s for Art’s sake. 

The Marketer positions the work so that the audience will make a decision to buy it. Her work, on the other hand is to profit from the Art.

This works very well when the production team is staffed with artists who are pleased with the opportunity to deliver their art for the greater good. It pleases their soul.

If the artists produce their art for an organization that recognizes the value of their art, they are well-compensated for their contribution. The Marketers, then take the work of the Artists and find a way to help the organization profit from the work the artists are contributing.

This, to me is a win-win proposal. It’s a conversation for another day.

The “hard work”, as Seth calls it, is when the Artist must also be the Marketer.

To feel the joy that comes from making art, and the passion to make a significant contribution, when she must also generate a living.

This might be why so many Artists struggle with Imposter syndrome.

On one hand, it’s our art, and it’s a joy to create it.

To achieve mastery of our art is our never-ending quest.

On the other hand, the agony of feeling like we must position our passion as a “business,” challenges the artist and leaves her questioning whether her motives are pure.

Whether she can make a difference, AND a living.

Getting paid to Sprint — is that the same as selling out? If (and that’s the big ‘IF’) she can profit from her Art, the same way an organization with its own marketing team might.

In the end, the Artist will choose to do what calls her soul and leads her to do work that matters.

And this, is what finding real talent might look like today. To know someone who would lay it all on the line for the sake of their art, is to know that someone is truly committed to the art that they produce.

The thing is, art isn’t easy.

If it were easy, art would not hang on walls, or be revered or appreciated, because it wouldn’t be art — it would be commonplace.

It if were easy, more people would choose to make a difference, instead of simply opting to make a living.

If it were easy, the young artist wouldn’t be discouraged by her parents from pursuing her art – (thank goodness that was not a challenge I ever experienced.)

So, maybe, art isn’t for art’s sake after all.

Maybe it’s for human’s sake.

Because the art of being human, taking the risk of being vulnerable, and waking up day after day knowing “this might not work” is exactly what makes us human, and the joy of doing work that matters might just become an art form …

Someday, this is what success might look like.

The Cost of Efficiency

I recently learned about a local gynecologic oncologist that kept his patients waiting, sometimes for hours.

Doctors’ offices like this are common. They schedule their appointments for efficiency, in case there are cancelations. But when everyone shows up on time (or early) for their appointments, the patients suffer, as the office and the Dr. try to efficiently move the patients through the assembly line.

This doctor, however, had an uncommon reputation. Instead of his patients complaining about the wait, they celebrated it. Because they know he was caring for another patient.

Holding her hand, answering her husband’s questions, listening to the fears and the concerns as the couples and families he treated struggled to understand the news he was sharing. He was also there, celebrating with his patients, encouraging them and cheering them on.

The patients of Dr. Cardosi — and other doctors like him — know what it means to be cared for. They don’t feel like another patient, being herded through the clinic door, only to sit inside and wait for what seems like an eternity to be seen by the busy, frazzled doctor, looking at charts, talking in brusque tones to the tolerant nurses. I am sure these doctors didn’t  set out to be too busy to care.

But that’s the reality of being efficient.

Efficiency is necessary to be profitable. It’s essential for the bottom line.

But caring — that is what truly matters.

I know how it feels to need to be efficient. Looking at the clock, knowing that time is running out before a deadline, while I sit, trying to be patient with a client who needs me, because I truly care. And, when the client knows I care, and appreciates the fact that I am taking my time, I feel more inclined to give them the time that they need.

What we need to realize, as customers and clients who want to be cared for, is that the caring comes at a cost. And the best way to ensure that we can continue to be cared for, is to celebrate the professionals who care.

If we want more caring, we must accept that it comes at a cost. There’s no possible way for caring deeply for another human being to be fast and efficient.

But, we still need more caring, all the way around.

Need More Rah Rah!

It’s not uncommon to hear feedback about the way I approach life. But before I tell you what I hear from others, let me tell you a couple of things I already knew, before these responses started to trickle in.

I am weird. My positive attitude can be overwhelming. People can’t handle so much “rah rah.” When I am surrounded by my family, I see it more clearly, because, sitting around the table, I see a lot of people who believe in the same things I do, so, in fact, we’re all weird!

I didn’t always see this, but today, when I hear someone suggest that I should take off the rose-colored glasses, I know that I come by it honestly!

Recently, someone told me about a conversation they had with someone about me — and I was not surprised to hear: “They don’t have a problem with you, they know you are aware that they can only take so much ‘rah rah.’”

Yes. I am aware. We can have that understanding. We can make it work.

I am aware that the world has made people unwilling to embrace a positive attitude, regardless of how Pollyanna it might appear.

There are days when I am not sure it’s worth it. I struggle to keep shining the light.

I wonder if everyone else might be right, and I really am just weird in the sense that I should adjust to fit into the negativity that makes them feel so comfortable.

I wonder if I should “be more realistic, less optimistic; More “get a grip on reality;” Less, “people say I’m a dreamer.”

But, here’s the thing. The more I give in to “reality” the more difficult it is to get through the day.

The more I get angry at the check-out line when there’s a person paying with loose change, slowing me down.

The more frustrated I get when someone is driving slowly and I am in a hurry.

The more I want to give an attitude back to the snarky person behind the counter who is having a bad day — or maybe a bad life.

The more I obsess about a mean comment on Facebook.

The more I look for things to be miserable, or annoyed by.

The more I want bad things to happen to people who have hurt me.

I don’t want to live like that. And, I don’t want to be around people who live like that. So, when someone suggests that there’s too much “rah rah,” I choose less time with that person.

I used to pull back the “rah rah,” and try to “blend in” with everyone else, but I’ve learned that there’s no benefit to me (or others) for me to shrink so that they can feel more comfortable.

Instead, I just keep beating the “rah rah” drum and looking for those who like the beat.

Living a life that is filled with joy, acceptance, and a refusal to accept that it should be any other way, is the only way I want to strive to live.

I want to continue to believe in what is possible. I believe that things will all work out. They always do. And, sometimes, they work out even better than I had imagined they would.

I hope I will be able to hold on to this attitude for the rest of my life. It has changed me, and it has taught me so much about how I want to live.

If you’ve ever wanted to see more positivity in the world, just look for it. It’s right under your nose.

Rose-colored glasses? Nah, it’s not the glasses. We just need a little more rah rah in the world!

Love? Seriously?

I am far from calling myself enlightened. There’s so much work, the journey is long and there’s so much to do, before you can say you are done. And I am so far from being “done” and I am pretty sure it’s not going to get easier, but I have learned some things that are certainties for me.

What I am writing about, in my experience, absolute TRUTH.

I talk about Love a lot. Because that’s the only explanation I can give for much of the success I can now claim.

How did you get here? Love!

LOVE? Seriously, come on, Chrissanne. There’s more to it than that! What about all of the hard work it took?

Work? It wasn’t work, it was LOVE.

Holding on tight to the only certain thing in my life has been the answer to EVERYTHING.

What if I fail? What if this is the wrong path? What if I am not good enough?What if they think I am a fool? What if I can’t get past this point? What about when I’ve been rejected, and no one seems to love me?

LOVE is the only answer that makes sense. Love is there, even when we don’t want it, and it’s there even if we can’t see it. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be alive. There’s love, it just might not fit “our” personal definition, desire or expectation of what love “should” be.

Maybe there’s another explanation, and maybe you might call it something else, and indeed, in your life it might be something else, because you didn’t have the same experiences that I have, but if I trace my survival back to when things were at their worst, I just find LOVE.

Let me explain a little bit.

When I was a 17-year-old runaway (oh, the book I will write someday), I stood in front of a juvenile judge at the Polk County courthouse and tried to explain what was wrong, why had I run away from home?

I am pretty sure he was not expecting the words that I blurted from my defiant mouth as I looked at him with anger and frustration.

“Your Honor,” I said, in my orange shirt and green pants, “They love me too much!”

With those words, I turned around to point accusingly at an entire bench which was taken up by my entire family. My mother sat next to my step-father, who sat next to my father. He was accompanied by my step-mother, and then there was my aunt and uncle, my grandmother and, of course, my shrink. “They won’t let me LIVE my life!” I shrieked, as the tears spilled from my eyes.

I was too distraught to notice, but I am pretty sure there were some stifled laughs in the courthouse.

I was the only person that judge saw that day that probably had so many people caring about her. So many teenagers who are in trouble have no one. Maybe a caseworker, or a mother or grandmother, but not an entire baseball team! (My brother was away at college in Montana, otherwise he would have definitely been there too!)

There is so much to learn in this life, and as I think back on these experiences, I realize that LOVE was what I was rejecting. I resented it. I pushed away from it. It was not them that had it wrong. (duh!)

It was me that was keeping me from the success that was waiting for me — if only I would let it in.

I was not allowing love to play the role it was designed to play. I was suffocating on the very thing that was keeping me alive. I had convinced myself, in my adolescent mind, that I wasn’t good enough for that (or any love) and yet, I was craving more love from other sources.

Love isn’t perfect.

Let’s get that straight!

There was definitely some suffocating going on, which might not have been the healthiest. But, dysfunctional or not, when love is pure, it’s there for the long haul. And it doesn’t go away, even if we reject it.

And even if it takes us 20+ years to realize it!

Today, it’s obviously different. The love of my family has been constant. But along the way, I have added the love of myself, and the love of my partner, Craig, and the love of my team, my community, my friends. The real kind of love that refuses to allow the judgement, comparisons and pettiness get in the way, but really truly embraces what is possible with the gift of love. The love that sees through the smile, and knows what’s behind the work being done, and the sacrifices being made and the challenges being overcome. The love that appreciates every single effort that is made to create life worth living. Because when love is present, we all know what is at stake, even if we can’t talk about it. We know. Love knows.

That has been my life, and the only thing I can point to when I think of how far I have come.

Heck, I was just born — like anyone else — to create something beautiful, as I believe I have with the businesses I have been designing, and this blog that I have been writing, and the heart that I have been growing.  There’s nothing special about it – everyone has access to it, but maybe we all get stuck trying to make it more complicated. But no matter how I try to look at it, the only thing that I can tell you, is that Love is what has made it all possible.

And, love is also what makes it all worthwhile. 

Where do You Want to Go?

Get in the car and drive. Go wherever you want. Get your GPS, plug in an address and go.

This is easy when you only have yourself to consider in your decision making, or when it’s just you and your spouse.

But when you add more people to the car, it requires — well, MORE planning, more consensus building, more work.

You can’t just hop in the car and drive anymore.

Where do you want to go?
I dunno.
Well, what do you want to do?
It doesn’t matter, whatever you want. 
Do you know what you want to eat?
Not really.

The sticky part comes when the other people in the car don’t know where they want to go.

Which happens a lot. Most people prefer someone else to drive, because they either don’t want to be responsible for making the decisions, or they are afraid of what would happen if they made the wrong decision.

Most people wouldn’t just drive the car to wherever they want without the input of their passengers. Heck, even a bus driver doesn’t do that. They go where the passengers want to go.

The key, if you’re driving the car, is to make sure you have everyone in the car that wants the same things you want.

This doesn’t mean MAKING them want what you want.

It means looking them in the eye, exploring with them what they want for themselves, and finding out of this is a trip they want to take with you.

And that’s when all of the best discoveries can begin. Without this awareness, we might find ourselves in the car, driving in circles.

Valuing the Past

There’s nothing wrong with the status quo.

The details of how we arrived at this pivotal moment, can be found in the ideals and the decisions made in the past, and the limits we find on our capabilities today are only a matter of challenging what is, with a clear understanding that people — good, hard-working, passionate people were responsible for the changes they made that got us to today.

Even if they seem stale and stagnant to us — the next generation.

Looking back — if we’re willing to see the status quo as it was before it became the status quo — we will see people just like us, challenging the “old guard,” and looking for ways to push beyond the place things were to find a better way.

We cannot stand still. 

But we cannot move forward without honoring the wisdom of those who have come before us.

We cannot get discouraged — real progress only comes when we’re here for the long haul.

Yes, you’re right, it shouldn’t be this difficult. Times have changed. Times are always changing.

What happens next is up to us.

Because when we find ourselves standing where they are, and we discover that we have become the status quo, we cannot forget who we were before we (suddenly?) became them.

Valuing the past ensures that someday, we too will be appreciated for the things we contributed to move our community, our country, or society forward.

The only thing we cannot do, is give up — on finding a way — on creating a future that we can be proud of.

Get Back on the Horse

The horse doesn’t care whether you do or not. He might sense your fear, but if anything, he is indifferent to it.

And, it’s so easy to explain the thing holding you back. Everyone will understand.

If you’re afraid of horses, or the high dive at the pool, there’s probably a good reason. You’ve probably explained your logical explanation a hundred times. You’ve convinced yourself that your fear is rational, and you’ve grown to accept it as reality.

Horses and diving boards are scary. Stay away from any experience that might involve either.

Your story has nothing to do with the horse, or the diving board.

Rationalize it all you want, but the only thing that is real is your belief that it’s ok to be afraid.

The fear isn’t in the horse, or the diving board.

The fear is in doing it anyway.

I was stalling (no pun intended!) the writing of this post. I was afraid of it. I started to think about you, the reader, and what you would think if I started writing again, after a week.

The process isn’t whether you’re going to read this and think anything of me. The process is in overcoming that fear and doing it anyway.

I am back on the horse today.

What’s holding you back from getting back on the horse? Are you buying into the crap that your story about your fear is telling you? Is it real? Or is it just an excuse to let you off the hook?

Numbers Don’t Lie

No matter your station in life, you’re going to be faced with the truth that numbers bring to any discussion.

But if we want to make a difference, we have to be willing to read between the numbers.

We have to see the people that those numbers represent.

When we look solely at the economies of scale, and the safe bets, we’re asking the numbers to do the work, instead of our hearts.

After all, if a market has proven itself, it’s easy to nod in agreement and throw one more vote, or dollar into a project.

If we’re wrong, we can blame the numbers. Hedge our bets, avoid the risk.

Who are we to disrupt what’s always been working?

Those who want to make a difference, have to be willing to see beyond the numbers. We have to be willing to take the risk, invest the emotional labor that listening requires, and make the hard decisions.

We have to begin to trust more than the numbers. We have to be willing to trust ourselves.

It’s the unproven, raw instinct that doesn’t get much attention from the numbers.

The family that just needs to make ends meet this month but doesn’t “qualify” for assistance from the programs that are based on the numbers.  How do we help them?

The passionate minority that seems to be pushed to the fringe because the majority rules. How do we see them, and forge a way to begin to provide a more equitable path?

It’s not a political debate whether people matter, but when we add the numbers into the equation, politics rule the day.

If we’re going to make a difference, we have to be willing to listen in between the numbers. There may be no financial or political reason to care about the little guys, but there might still be a reason.

It’s called the human reason.

The Little Things

In January of 2013, Craig Hosking and I were just beginning to realize what the LOVE of this community felt like. We were still building a name for ourselves. We were slowly (SO SLOWLY – or so it seemed then) building our business, and looking for ways to add value, whenever possible.

I think my family still thought I was crazy… for thinking I could build a business out of nothing. But we’d been building the business for almost 4 years – things were just starting to get “good!”

I had to work hard to keep believing. I remember wondering, “What in the world am I even doing?!” When I started to doubt it, I forced myself to hold on to the belief that I was here for a reason, and I looked for the lessons I was supposed to be learning (aka the pennies, I was supposed to find) on this journey.

And every time, I convinced myself to “Have one more try.”
More than once, I looked at Craig and asked, should we go get “real” jobs?

But for one reason or another, we kept going – alternating between “believing” and “hustling” and along the way, I discovered what I was capable of. (Craig says he knew all along.)

The truth is, none of our current situation – where we are today, and where we’re going – happened simply because of our own effort.

We needed a few doors to open.

We didn’t know it at the time, but those doors were opening, and the unexpected was happening right before our eyes.

In February of 2013, a “door” to a downtown office opened, and an opportunity that can only be described as the stars aligning was presented to us.

I know the struggle that working from home presents to many entrepreneurs. I doubt we’d be where we are today had someone not generously offered us some space on Tennessee Ave. “Explaining” our office was no longer a thing I had to concern myself with.

About a year after we moved to this downtown office, we were invited to merge with what is now our company – Maximize Digital Media

And yet another door had opened.

Over the years, Lakeland Business Leaders has continued to grow. We have made so many friends, and contacts and discovered so many “pennies” along the way. We’re blessed beyond measure.

And it’s time to move on – even if just a little step. I know now, that every step is important, especially the little ones!

It seems like yesterday, I was just a scared “kid” with a dream.

What a difference 5 years makes.

Today is our last day in our office. We’re moving to a nearby location, 3 blocks south of the place were all of this magic has happened.

It’s a bittersweet moment. And it might seem like a little step, but I know that every little step has led to so much.

These are the other things I know now, thanks to this office:

1. I am capable of more than I ever knew was possible.
2. Craig is the best partner I could ever have asked for.
3. I am surrounded by a family who loves me fiercely and who believes in me.
4. I have a talented, passionate team of WINNERS working with me and serving our clients.
5. My friends, those I see every day, and those who cheer from a distance, are the greatest friends a girl could ever ask for.
6. This community of Lakelanders, LBL members and citizens I have had the privilege to know and connect with, are, without a doubt the most incredible community in the whole entire world.

Yes, we’re only moving 3 blocks, but I am remembering and appreciating 5 years of memories, that started right here in this office that I have been so blessed to enjoy.

So, the next time you’re wondering if some little step is worth taking, I hope you’ll lean into it with all you have, because there’s something amazing waiting for you on the other side.

It’s called LOVE.