Be Awesome Daily - Figuring it Out

I believe Everything is Figureoutable. But what exactly does that mean? 

The road here (from wherever “there” is) has not been easy, has it? Sometimes it feels like everyone else has it figured out, and we’re left here, scratching our heads and wondering if we missed the day in school that they taught that class.

But here’s what I believe Figuring it out looks like in real life:

It’s so tempting to seek shortcuts, try to find an easy button, and just forget the things that matter most.

We need more people who see the value in the hard work. If life was about the short game, maybe it would be different.

But it’s not about who can cut corners, or find a cheap/easy way to make it look like they have it all figured out.

The only way to figure it out is, well… To figure it out.

And learn from those who have achieved sustainable success.

The problem with this?

It’s not trendy or cool. 
It takes time.
It requires sacrifice. 
It doesn’t come with an instruction manual. 
There are no guarantees. 

And, that’s exactly what makes it all worth it. 

BTW, you need to know: I’m so far from figuring it out. 

The only thing I know for certain is that nothing is certain. 

Oh, yeah, and I’m also certain that I’m not trendy or cool. 🙂

I was thinking about the beginning. The first days, months and now years of what I think of as “Reinventing Chrissanne Long.” Last night I was recognized as an Emerging Leader in Polk County. I joined an elite group of individuals who have been honored with this distinction over the last 8 years.

As I realized that I had been selected, I was overcome with emotion – humbled by the feeling of being recognized in this way, but also thrilled at the realization that what I am doing is making a difference, at least, in the eyes of the people selecting the winners of this beautiful collection of Polk County leaders who are choosing to lead in their chosen professions.

Leadership is a choice. That is what I have come to understand.

Every single day, each of us wake up with the same number of hours. We look out at the day ahead of us and, depending on our DNA, our gender, our backgrounds, our education, and our emotional state, we make choices.

Over time, the fact that these are choices is forgotten and we begin to feel as if these are requirements. We have to go to work, we have to pay our bills, we have to read that email, or answer that call.

But no matter how much these things feel like requirements, they are always choices.


I was selected, but that isn’t the whole story. I was nominated, and I accepted the invitation and completed an application to be considered for this award.

But, what if I had never been nominated? What if I had not been selected? What if what I am doing wasn’t seen as valuable in the eyes of the community I love so hard? What if nobody noticed, or cared about the work I was doing?

Being invited to join this group of amazing people is a wonderful feeling.

But the greatest and most exhilarating reward is the feeling that I invited myself to the conversation. I made the choice to show up and do the work, and take risks and bring value.

In those early days, I didn’t know if it would work. But I chose to try anyway, because it was all I knew to give – and it was important to me that I started, that I just BEGAN doing something, no matter how small it seemed.

Nobody asked me to do this. No invitations were sent.

Nobody gave me an instruction manual and said, “Here, go do this.”

And there wasn’t any requirement that I keep showing up. People would have understood (or not noticed, or cared) if I had decided to quit along the way.

It was always my choice.

If there’s any lesson in this moment. If there’s any reason I stood on stage with those amazing young people who show up and do great things, it’s this:

Whether or not you are ever recognized, the work you do matters. The days, months and years you choose to show up, and do something- big or small – and do that over and over and over again – that little contribution you’re making is important, because YOU know that it feels scary, awkward, uncomfortable and insignificant. And when you do it anyway, when you continue to choose to contribute, and be YOU, whether or not you are invited… that is the stuff that fills us with satisfaction.

That is the real purpose of life. That is what Leadership is. That is who we are all capable of being, even when we’re looking at this big scary world, filled with all these incredible people, and we think, “That’s not me, I am not a Leader, I’ll never be good enough.” We have to make a choice to do it anyway.

Because it’s not about the applause. It’s about making the world better, and it’s about making ourselves better along the way.

It’s about inviting yourself. That’s where it starts anyway.

Winning vs Losing

When we play a game, we understand there’s a chance we will lose. We want to win, because winning gives us opportunities to become the champion, to become more popular, to have more power.

There is a lot to be said about winning.

Look for quotes about winning and you’ll find one for every situation:

“Winner takes all.”

“Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”

When it comes to communities, though, winning takes on a different meaning.

In order for a community to win, there must be a different approach to winning.

One in which the idea of winning doesn’t measure success by how many losers they’ve left in their path to the top.

Too many losers in the community brings everyone down, which leads to an unhealthy, or even toxic environment in which no one thrives, limiting the chances the community will win.

A community — big or small — is responsible for creating an environment that measures success differently.

Sentiment, quality of life, reputation, culture, accessibility, just to name a few.

In order to improve these areas, communities need leaders who recognize that you can’t use the same metrics for quality of life for everyone. Each member of the community has different needs.

If the community leaders focus too much in one direction, focusing on the tangible, easy to see measurements of success, they will easily forget that there are the less visible, non-obvious aspects of their community that will begin to decline.

It’s easy to rattle off the wins. To show the great strides being made in unemployment, or real estate development.

But the hard work starts when we want to improve things that are harder to measure. Sentiment, quality of life (for everyone?) reputation, culture, accessibility.

It’s a place most winners don’t want to go. Because they are unsure how they will be able to win, in a game that has no clear grid for measuring success.

It’s easier to focus on what we’re good at, than it is to find a way to become better at the things we are not. But this is a fallacy —  this is how we become (and stay) mediocre.

In the end, if we want our community to win, we have to look beyond the easy to see, easy to measure, and start to find ways to improve the things that will impact our community in more subtle, less obvious ways.

And, this might mean losing for awhile. But if the end game is a better community, the results of the effort will be more winning.

The legacy of our community, then, will be one that serves the future generations — with strength, resilience — valuing the hard work it takes to do the best thing for the community they will soon serve as leaders.

If we’re playing to win, we have to remember – We are all on the same team.


We all remember the story of the Troll who lived under the bridge and refused to allow the Three Billy Goats to pass, when they arrived at the bridge. They wanted cross in order to enjoy the green grass on the other side of the bridge.But instead of letting them pass, he threatened to eat them. The first two Billy Goats convinced the troll to let them pass, promising him that their big brother was bigger, and would be a much more satisfying meal. Of course, when the third goat arrives, he was big enough and fast enough to take the troll out.

And that’s the sad end of the story for the troll.

There’s little concern or consideration for the troll in the story.

But what if we did consider the troll?

Why is he so mean? Who taught him to be so mean? Why does he just sit under the bridge? Doesn’t he have a home? What does he stand to gain? Is it just because he’s hungry? Or does he get satisfaction from the fact that he can scare the smaller goats? Isn’t there some kindness in the fact that he did let the first two go? Why is he tricked by the first two goats to allow himself to be met with the largest of them all only to be obliterated because the third goat was able to knock him off the bridge?

Of course, it’s silly to go through this exercise with the troll in the folktale, but what about the trolls in every day life?

I recently had the opportunity to meet someone in real life that I had previously regarded as a social media troll, because of his comments on Facebook about a particular topic, on which we were opposed.

The circumstances of why we were meeting were not the best, but we both recognized that there was a human being on the other side of the screen. And we met, discussed the issue, and discovered we had quite a bit in common. At the end, a friendship seemed possible, and empathy prevailed.

I’m so grateful for that experience — but I realize it’s not always possible to come face to face with the person who seems to have no other desires than to pick fights online. Much like the Troll on the bridge.

But what if we ask ourselves the questions I posed about the Troll? Why is this person so mean? What is behind their behavior? Were they given all of the love, attention and guidance that I was as a child? Are they struggling financially? Is their relationship on the rocks? Are they dealing with a dying parent, or mourning the loss of a loved one? Are they covering a fear by acting this way?

The Internet, in the hands of people without empathy, dehumanizes us. It allows us to forget that there is a person on the other side of those words. And, it’s so much easier (and satisfying) to go head to head with them and try to knock them off the bridge.

After all, who do they think they are? What gives them the right to be so outrageous? Our sense of right vs wrong and our desire to seek justice, and defend our good name takes over and we allow the trolls to have the power — even though what they probably are seeking is validation, love, attention. Not power.

What if they don’t even realize the impact their words or actions are having on you? What if, it’s not even personal?

Could you, would you be willing to let them have a pass. To let it go, to not take it personally, and just see them as someone who might be hurting?

Sure, there’s always an argument against this option. Bullies should be dealt with. I don’t condone the actions of the would-be trolls who create drama and toxicity to our social streams.

But, what if you invited them to coffee — instead of engaging in an online war that, most likely, no one will win, and will definitely force you to waste precious time.

Don’t worry if the troll has the last word. At some point, the biggest billy goat is going to come along, and that will be the end of the story.

I write a lot about the power of connection. It’s the foundation of many leaders’ stories of success. And, as they say, success leaves clues. So, as a detective, on the hunt for the best pathway for my own success, I have spent a lot of time studying. The most common theme among the most successful people that I admire (note, my definition of success is based upon the message that Zig Ziglar was so famous for:

“You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” 

The part that has recently been more relevant to me, is not as much about how connected one is, but how connectable

Before I get into this, there are a lot of precautions we all must take to ensure we’re taking care of ourselves. I do not condone helping others at your own expense, or letting others take advantage of your kindness, however, I do believe that the gateway to happiness toward a successful life is in the giving back to those who find themselves seeking answers to questions and puzzles you’ve already solved. To me, it’s much more efficient that way!

So, what do I mean by being connectable? Here are two short stories:

1. When I sent an email earlier this year, to my favorite author, Seth Godin, I was sending it for myself – not knowing whether he would receive the email, but knowing that I needed to share my gratitude for the way his work and his example has molded and shaped me and given me hope to make a difference. To put it simply, I wanted to connect to him. And, it could have been that I just sent the email, and went on with my life, knowing how busy, popular, important he was. But that’s not what happened. Within 15 minutes, I had a reply. This is what being connectable, what being a leader worth following, what realizing the value of the people around you (the connections you make, simply by being alive), is all about.

2. Several years ago, I was still figuring out my place in my community. I looked out, as many people do, looking for answers. I don’t struggle to find people I can learn from – there’s a book that can help me learn anything I want. But I admit, I found it difficult to find a mentor locally, as I was designing a life I felt was worth living. I discovered something that was disappointing to me at the time – there was little accessibility to connect with the leaders of the community. Quite honestly, I saw a very closed environment. I sent a couple of emails, and tried to connect with some leaders via Facebook and LinkedIn, but my requests went unanswered – I eventually canceled the requests, because I felt embarrassed that I would even have asked for their time.

But there was one person who was accessible, and it’s quite possible he is one of the busiest people I now can say that I know, because he was connectable. I had not met this person yet, but we were connected on Facebook. I could see in his interactions a person who was accessible – connectable, and who would help me get some clarity on my path. So, I sent a Facebook message (I didn’t have his email), and I hoped for the best. Sure enough, I had a response from him later that day. His name is Bill Mutz, and he was just elected Mayor of Lakeland last month. And, to be quite honest, it is probably because he’s been willing to take the time to listen, to be connectable to a lot of people over the years.

I get the feeling that this is something new, trending, and challenging to the status quo leaders who have, for years, made deals in the back room, with their known contacts, getting it done their way.

I argue that today, the connections you have are only the beginning, and that being connectable is the way to succeed in a world seeking connection, and transparency.

So, be connected if you must, but the real work starts when you’re ready to be connectable. 

I used to think life was like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, but today, I believe the adventure chooses you. It’s just up to you to decide if you’re willing to accept the challenge.

Who the HECK do you think you are?!

There are days, actually, last Saturday was one of those days, when the Resistance comes in with such a force that I am paralyzed. I question everything. I won’t waste your time with the dialogue, but if you’d like to compare the voice of your Resistance with mine, I am sure it will be an easy victory for this guy over here.

It has been about 10 years since my adventure began, and I still can’t believe it. But, well, here we are. And, I am writing this post, and you are reading it, so there’s no pretending that it’s all made up.

The adventure began when I started asking, What if? I asked it when Craig, my boyfriend, business partner and best friend had sent me packing, tired of the ups and downs that were my reality back then. I was pathetic, and I knew it, but I didn’t want to be that way anymore. So, I asked, What if I can win Craig back? I set a goal, and a deadline, and began to work hard at being reliable, dependable, positive, courageous, likable and successful — something I should have already been, but sadly — was not. As if like clockwork, within 11 months (the deadline was 12 months), he had opened his heart and his arms to me again.

At about that same time — because part of the deal with winning Craig back was figuring out how to be an entrepreneur — I also asked, What if I can actually do this business owner thing? I still have the copy of the first check I earned, to remind me what happens when I stop listening to the resistance and start believing anything is possible.

Starting a business isn’t for everyone. Starting something different, new, challenging, scary, and meaningful, however — is.

And, that is when the adventure chose me.

It was as if the adventure was waiting for me to get to this point, I could try to explain it, but in her book Big Magic, author Elizabeth Gilbert, says it perfectly:

“Ideas have no material body, but they do have consciousness, and they most certainly have will. Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. It is only through a human’s efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual.

Therefore, ideas spend an eternity swirling around us, searching for available and willing human partners.(I’m talking about all the ideas here — artistic, scientific, industrial, commercial, ethical, religious, political.) When an idea thinks it has found somebody — say, you — who might be able to bring it to the world, the idea will pay you a visit. It will try to get your attention. Mostly, you will not notice. This is likely because you’re so consumed by your own dramas, anxieties, distractions, insecurities, and duties that you aren’t receptive to inspiration. You might miss the signal… [but] the idea will try to wave you down (Perhaps for a few moments, perhaps for a few months; perhaps even for a few years), but when it finally realizes you’re oblivious to its message, it will move on to someone else.
But sometimes — rarely, but magnificently — there comes a day when you’re open and relaxed enough to actually receive something…. The idea will wake you up in the middle of the night, and distract you from your everyday routine. The idea will not leave you alone until it has your fullest attention.

And then, in a quiet moment, it will ask, “Do you want to work with me?”

Are you Ready to Say Yes?

When I opened my mind to the possibilities that came into my heart when I started saying “yes” to myself (and the adventure that awaited), and what I was capable of, and began refusing to allow the word “can’t” into my mind. It wasn’t just saying “can’t,” but actually stopping myself at the point that the thought creeped into my head.

The next “What if” came when I asked,

What if I could use my passion to connect the local community of Lakeland, around the idea that entrepreneurs, business owners, merchants, retailers and the community at large could have a place to share ideas, pass referrals, and support the local economy?

And, then I set about trying to see what would happen. And, that’s when Lakeland Business Leaders was born. That idea chose me.

Along the way, I have discovered a new kind of personal fulfillment and joy that comes from connecting. Since 2011, we’ve connected over 6,000 members of the local community around that one question. “What if” — and the journey with that adventure is only just beginning, thanks to the amazing people who have embraced the idea and leaned in to be part of the LBL community.

Most recently, this question, has been swirling around me:

What if I could share my story, and begin to inspire others along the way, to begin their own adventures — writing a blog, or starting a reading group, teaching a class, planting a garden, raising money for people in need…. It doesn’t really matter what the adventure is, I just want to inspire people to begin believing in what they can do.

I am powered by this purpose. Because I believe, when I allowed the adventure to choose me, everything else lined up to make it possible for these things to occur.

If you don’t believe in magic, if this is all too ooey gooey for you, don’t worry, I get it. You don’t have to take my word for it. Just ask yourself that most powerful 2-word question, and then, see what happens when you say yes: to setting aside the doubts and the worries – and begin to make manifest that greatness that is within you.

If I didn’t have my story tell, I wouldn’t believe it either. What adventure is going to be your story? When will you be ready to tell it?