Make Sure it’s Not a Cop Out

“Don’t worry what other people think — you can’t make everyone happy,” has been common advice I have received in my life.

Admittedly, I am a bit more sensitive than apparently, most of the world, and I have needed to strengthen my thin skin over the years. So, I am not arguing that you can (or should) strive to make everyone happy.

However, since I come from the other extreme, I see this advice as both helpful and potentially dangerous.

Helpful, because of course, we need to be able to recognize that we will not be able to satisfy 100% of world, 100% of the time. Even I agree that is unrealistic. 🙂

But the application of this logic is also dangerous because — especially in the business world and in the organizational leadership roles many people play —  the attitude, if taken to the other extreme can result in a very cynical and isolated way of thinking, leading someone to the mindset, in which “My way or the highway,” becomes the way she thinks and acts.

Dismissing someone who disagrees with us, or failing to listen to constructive criticism can be just as dangerous, as worrying about what everyone thinks.

Creating a tribe that supports you, but also can share their concerns and carry on a healthy debate, without threatening you, or your trust is a sign of true leadership.

The trouble is, we’re so polarized and afraid of the critics throwing potshots from the sidelines, that we’re likely losing valuable insight from some people who might have a valid point, and simply want to help you see the gap that you might not realize exists.

So, while I agree, and personally continue seeking a balance between these two ideals, I caution against completely dismissing someone’s viewpoint that contradicts your own. In fact, I have found the best way to address this is to ask trusted advisors (outside the organization, or at least distanced from the decision making) for their opinion.

Seeking input from a different perspective, and consistently trying to see things from the other side, can prevent all or nothing thinking from pervading the culture of the organization.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Written by Chrissanne Long | October 13, 2017

One of the greatest soundtracks of my childhood was the Sound of Music. I still love that movie today. When Maria is teaching the children Do-Re-Mi, before she starts singing, and throughout the song, the recorded soundtrack includes the dialogue from the movie. I can almost quote the dialogue from memory:

“Now children, Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So and so on are only the tools we use to build a song. Once we have the notes in our heads, we can sing a million different tunes by mixing them up. Like this” and she begins So-Do-La-Fa-Mi-Re-Do….the children sing along, until Brigitta interrupts.

“But it doesn’t mean anything!”

and Maria nods and smiles, understanding her concern “So we put in words. One word for every note.” 

This morning, I woke up thinking about this song. Whenever I ask myself “What does it mean?” Brigitta’s true words pop into my head. But, like Maria, I believe we have the power to apply our own meaning to everything. Simply by choosing the words we want.

What does it mean, if I missed writing a blog yesterday? It could mean that I failed, or it could mean that I took a break, or it could mean that I was too tired, and I can write again today.

What does it mean if I didn’t get the contract? It could mean that I am not good enough, or it could mean that the client wasn’t a good fit after all, and there’s another opportunity on the other side.

What does it mean that I got into a disagreement with my best friend? It could mean that we shouldn’t be friends, or it could mean that our friendship becomes stronger as we work through whatever conflict arises.

What does it mean if someone goes behind my back and tries to undermine the work I am doing? It could mean that I have done something to deserve their disrespect, or it could mean that their insecurities are so great, that they need to give themselves a sense of importance.

Nothing has any meaning whatsoever, except for my own interpretation of it. And, how I choose to interpret every single detail of my life is completely up to — me.

When I met Craig almost 10 years ago, his version of the story is different than mine.

I saw him looking over at me. And, I chose to take that to mean he was interested in me. He, on the other hand says he was looking at the TV just above my head.

Had I not given that moment in my life the meaning I did, everything today would be completely different.

The meaning we give to the small, and the big, are completely up to our own interpretation. We can make something meaningful, or we can let the moments pass, with little to no significance.

It is not the circumstances that have meaning, but the other way around. What we believe about those circumstances creates the reality in which we exist. And, with the right attitude, and the right meaning applied to the circumstances, we can truly change anything in our lives.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Written by Chrissanne Long | October 11, 2017

Share Your Message with the World

I called my mom to catch up this weekend, and we enjoyed a quick, but powerful conversation that led me to want to be bolder with my writing. I heard her telling me she was proud of me. And I also heard the voice in my head.

Ordinarily, when someone offers me a compliment, I deflect. But when my mother says something complimentary, the voice screams: She’s your mom — she has to say these things! But this time, I fought back that instinct and I listened to her. She wasn’t blindly giving me a compliment, saying things that moms were supposed to say.

This time, the message I heard was one that suggested maybe, just maybe, I might be teaching my mother something.

I felt a subtle change: This changes everything. Could it be that I am inspiring her?

Not because my mom knows everything. She’s the most loving, humble, kind person anyone can ever meet.

No, this was about me being in a different place. A place I cannot recall ever being before. In all of the experiences I have ever had, I don’t recall being in a position to teach my mom anything. I am sure I have shown her how to do something, but that’s a different thing completely.

No, this was a conversation in which I might be guiding her to become a writer. Even though, she is the one who taught me to write. She is the one who gave me the the gift to express myself with words. She’s been writing a book for as long as I can remember. Her experiences in Cuba, her life as a daughter, wife, mother, divorcee, teacher, student. But on the phone this day, she was exploring the possibilities of blogging, writing regularly, sharing her story, following my example?!

When you think about the story you are writing (through the life you are living), and you realize that you are in a position to shift the roles, to trade places with the person who has been written into the script to be your teacher, it’s a moment you might not be ready for. But, the truth is, if you’re hiding from yourself, you might never be ready.

But, here’s the scary part. I think I might be ready. I might be ready to turn “Pro” and that means I can no longer choose to be silent. I can no longer believe I am not enough. Because, as a leader, that can’t be the position you take. You cannot be a leader, and at the same time, fearful of whether you are capable of leading. You just have to take what you have, your skills, your abilities, your faith.

And step into the role, and lead.

After our call, it occurred to me that I am following Steven Pressfield’s advice again, and I am “Turning Pro,” Turning Pro is my latest discovery, and the message is as powerful as The War of Art – except this time, I was prepared for Pressfield’s uncanny ability to use words to create emotion.

I was led to reading Turning Pro after reading Pressfield’s previous book, The War of Art — a book I wish everyone would read, but only when they are ready to take massive action. It’s a real kick in the ass, but you have to be ready for it.

When I read the book this summer, I was ready.

When the student is ready, the teacher appears. 

Whenever you’re ready, the opportunity to lead will await you. 

I shared with my mom that I believe it’s time for love, kindness and light to have a voice. And she turned that statement on me, in her subtle, kind and loving way — I heard my mother say, “You’re already doing that with your voice, Peanut. And it’s so needed. I am learning from you.”

“I don’t have any power to change anything,” was my immediate response.

But then, I reflected…

This is the voice of my amateur self. I believe this is the biggest enemy today. The enemy of our own self-doubt. The belief that what we have to say isn’t important, or won’t make a difference, is part of the process, but it is holding too many of us back.

Saying that we have no power to change anything, no matter whether it’s true or not — won’t get us anywhere.

We have to decide that we will Turn Pro. And, as Pressfield suggests, it will be messy; it won’t be perfect. It will not be easy. It will, however allow us to become the person we were meant to be.

The person we’ve been rejecting. Until. Until we refuse to remain silent. Until we begin to use our voices —  and our light to make a stand for whatever we believe in.

The enemy is not fighting us. We are fighting ourselves. We are choosing to stay quiet. And, as long as we allow the enemy to win, we will give away our power. We will remain amateurs.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

and embracing new ideas.

I have a pair of jeans I love to wear. They are the perfect pair of jeans for me. As most people do, I have several pairs of jeans. But these are my go-to jeans. They never let me down. Whatever the occasion, they make me feel comfortable. I think we all want to feel comfortable. It’s part of the human condition.

Sometimes, though, we buy jeans with the hope, “These will be perfect as soon as I break them in.” And they are. Because we gave them a chance. And even if they aren’t our ‘go-to jeans’, they still have a place in our closet.

Life is like that too. We crave comfort. We look for friends who are like-minded, so we don’t have to have uncomfortable conversations on topics we can’t agree. We seek a partner who finds us attractive, and makes us feel good about ourselves. We visit certain restaurants regularly because they serve food we enjoy, and the atmosphere is — comfortable.

When we are forced into situations that are not comfortable, we make comparisons. It’s at these times, I believe, when we become judgmental.

“That’s not how we do it back home.”

“This would taste better with less garlic. This chef doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

“I can’t wait to tell Mary and Bob what they were talking about tonight.”

“I can’t believe she said that. What an idiot!”

All of these statements place others on opposing sides. We don’t like to feel uncomfortable, so whenever we do, we compensate, and this divides us. But what we fail to realize is that the person we’re judging is comfortable being who they are. They want the same exact things we do. They just have a different definition of comfortable.

Is our way better? Is theirs? Is one right and the other wrong? When we realize that the jeans became comfortable after we wore them and washed them a few times, we might be more willing to embrace those things that make us uncomfortable — and maybe, just maybe, we can lean in to the process of being uncomfortable, because we need a couple of extra pairs of jeans in the closet.

Because face it — those comfy jeans are gonna rip someday. What are you going to do then?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

What Lies Beneath by Chrissanne Long

And other Hidden Secrets

The surface. What does it tell you about a structure? For example, the axiom “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” suggests that what’s inside matters more than what is on the outside.

And yet.

We spend most of the time we share with others avoiding depth.

I had a conversation with a dear dear friend the other day. It was safe, so we shared deep. We were talking about a change we want to see in the community, and in that dialogue, she said, “We won’t go this deep in the discussion, but we can talk about it on the surface levels.” I nodded in agreement, and yet, my deeper self asked “Why?”

The Case Against Depth

I get it, we can’t engage 100% of the time with 100% of the people on a deeper level. Because…. that would make people uncomfortable. Right? Could we maybe try for 1% to start?

Yes, we’re all uncomfortable about being put in uncomfortable situations, we avoid them…. but eventually,

It all comes to the surface. 

I have been plagued by this challenge for as long as I can remember. I know, it’s idealistic, not everyone wants to be honest, up front, direct. That’s not how it’s done in this world, Chrissanne. Come back to reality. 

But isn’t that what seems to be the biggest problem we’re dealing with today? We crave leaders that we can trust, but we won’t tell them we disagree with them, until it is something we feel personally about, and we still want objectivity, neutrality, justice, fairness, impartiality — unless it’s our personal agenda?

Special Agendas Abound.

This is NOT a political post, but I understand that it spills into that arena, and this challenges our safe zones. We want to be protected by our right to our opinion, and yet, we only share that opinion when something violates our own personal beliefs, and not sharing it means we’re not standing up for something we feel strongly about. Why do we need to feel strongly about what’s right? Isn’t that worth standing up for? Simply because it’s the right thing to do?

Step into my Utopian “pretend” world and imagine (just for a minute — you can go back to the other way in just a second). What challenges wouldn’t we be dealing with if we were able to be direct and straightforward about what lies beneath, instead of chatting about the weather, or how the Bucs are doing this season, and what the chances are of the Cubs going back to back again in the World Series this year?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that all we talk about is the deeper stuff, I am just suggesting that we stop avoiding it. 

We need to fix the economy, education, social unrest, prejudice, inequality, violence, mental illness, terrorism.

This isn’t something our “elected officials” can do on their own.

This isn’t just the responsibility of a chosen few.

This requires that we start leaning in. Having real conversations at the dinner table — heck are we even having dinner at the dinner table enough anymore? No worries, if there’s not a dinner table in your life today, but let’s just start talking — and listening. Maybe more listening first.

When is the last time you reached out to someone who disagrees with you and asked them to share their position? What brings them to this place? What makes them believe what they believe? It’s not about changing your mind. It’s about understanding theirs.

And, if we offer this beautiful gift to those in our circles, maybe we can ignite that in their circles. And eventually, we’re having conversations about the things that matter. Ripples, ya know?!

Aw, come on that’s such a buzz kill, Chrissanne. 

Yes, this isn’t fun. It’s not easy. It’s not even realistic at this point, but hey, this is my post, and I was dreaming for a minute.

I read a post today about a fellow altMBA alumnus being an Impresario, in which someone pointed out that his gift at connecting people is who he is. I related with this so much, and realized that we have to give ourselves permission to reach beyond the limitations of what we perceive we’re “supposed to do” and stop waiting to be invited. We have to invite ourselves. And, that is precisely why I am writing this post today.

It’s risky. You might not like it. You might not agree. But that isn’t what matters most. Today, I am acknowledging that what lies beneath the surface of the conversations is what matters the most.

So, what now?

Here’s a simple (not so simple) challenge — in the next 24 hours, talk to someone about something — anything uncomfortable. Don’t skirt away from the conversation, just this once. It might not work — but, then again….

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A Manifesto for Doers.

Don’t throw in the towel, don’t walk away. The hard work is already done. All that is needed now — is patience. (And a lot of deep breaths.)

(This might prove to be the hardest work of all.)

Waiting for movement. We’re ready to run, we have it all figured out. We are ready to move forward. Just need the green light and we’re off to the races.

We Are Ready to GOOOO!

But, what about the rest of the team?

What about the fears, tension, history that needs to be worked through? We can’t move forward until everyone in the office signs off on it. And, in the long run, we have to believe that consensus will make for a stronger decision. It is best for the team to challenge every angle of the idea, project, pitch or suggestion. Now is the time for them to ask the hard questions. 

Hard questions make us better. This will make us stronger. That’s what is in it for us. That is why we show up every day. We want to be better. We can always be better.

Let them poke holes, let them have the time they need. Let them sleep on it.

No pressure, sure, take all the time you need. No sweat. I understand!

If everything was smooth, without a hitch, we might not have the right people on the team. Everyone matters. And, that slows it down.

Everyone matters, and that slows it down. 

It’s not a stoppage of play. It’s simply a timeout. Make sure we’re calling the right play. Make sure we’re positioned the way we need to be.

This is what progress feels like. And, that’s what we’re here for — progress. Even if (when) it’s painful. (It’s always painful!)

Remember, no one said it would be easy. If it were easy, they wouldn’t need us to be here in the first place!

Progress is not about being wrong or right. It’s not really even about trust, but while we’re there, fists clenched and frustration mounting, it feels like everything we stand for is being challenged.

But, it’s not us. It’s not us. It’s not us. It’s not us. It’s not us.

What we need now is a little perspective. What we need now is a little “big picture thinking.” (What we need now… is a drink!)

Ok, now that we’re calm, now that we can remove ourselves from the emotions that we naturally tie to all things that matter, let us find our way through.

Because, on the other side, that’s where the magic happens.

And, bitterness, resentment, frustration and anger will only take away the joy that is inevitably going to be there waiting for us, when we get through the mud and the muck that we’re facing.

Don’t give away your power.

Don’t give away your joy.

The race isn’t over.

The only way out is through. 

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?

How good are you at living in the moment? Staying present isn’t always easy, especially in the fast-paced world we’re living in. There’s so much happening, and we have to make sure we’re keeping up, not falling behind. We’re accountable to so many different people, we find it hard to stay 100% focused on the present moment, and the goal at hand.

I was at my niece Anne’s softball tournament recently, when she was playing center field. Her team had fought their way back from the losers bracket and in one out, they would play for the championship. The adults stood in the bleachers, as the next batter approached the plate. The girl hit the ball into short center field, and Anne ran toward the ball, with the gracefulness of a professional. She moved with her instincts. It was as if she had no idea there was anything else in the world to worry about. Just an 11-year-old and the ball. She laid out her entire body, slid through the grass, and came up to find the ball right where she knew it would be, in her glove.

The crowd went wild.

Anne shrugged, as if it was no big deal. There was another game to play.

I think about that play, and the focus she had — she’s an incredible pitcher at a young age — and I think about what had to happen in order for her to make that play. The mechanics — the skill of catching the ball — was only a small part of that. After you learn to catch a ball, it’s not that hard. No, what had to happen was something that only comes when the circumstances are exactly right. In order to execute, whether it’s on the softball field, or in the office, or at home, optimal performance demands that you stay present.

If Anne had been thinking about her previous at-bat, or a ball she dropped a game ago, or having a dialogue in her head about the chances of winning the championship, she could not have been the linchpin in this moment. If she’d been afraid of missing the ball, or of getting hurt she might have pulled up and let the ball bounce, playing it safe, letting the game go on to an uncertain end. But she was present, laser-focused and intent on the goal.

In the movie, Perfect Game, with Kevin Costner, we can see the mental strength that Billy Chapel, the character played by Costner, has when he “clears the mechanism.” There’s a relationship at stake, and yet, there’s a job to do, and he controls the thoughts when he steps on the mound.

Does this only happen in the movies? Are 11-year-olds blessed with some advantage that is lost for most of the rest of the world?

No. But it is hard, isn’t it?

When we are our purest selves, allowing ourselves to be who we were born to be, the artist within us knows what to do. Laying out, for her, isn’t a question. It’s just who she is. But, the challenges of life, #adulting, and the fear of failure begin to infiltrate that unbridled, unfettered focus that all of us are capable of, and most of us talk our way out of laying out.

Why “can’t” we? What is the real reason we’re “too busy?” or distracted from the goal?

Staying present, and seeing things through — laying out — opens the doors to the life we were designed to live. It’s not in the opportunities we missed, or the balls we dropped. Most of us are still thinking about all of the errors we’ve made along the way, while the all-stars understand what Babe Ruth knew: that “every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”

The next time you’re stuck thinking about the baggage — the failed attempts at meeting your goals, or the fear of making a mistake — take a breath, clear the mechanism, stay focused and give everything you have to this moment.

You are guaranteed one of two outcomes — you’ll come up with the ball, or you’ll be able to walk off the field knowing you laid out, giving your all to the effort, and you left it all on the field. And, if you decide to be present, you’ll know exactly what to do next time.

Once you do this a few times, you’re going to learn that whether or not you catch the ball has never been the point. 

Months later, I’ll bet Anne isn’t thinking about that remarkable catch. Because, to her, there’s another game to play, and that catch isn’t going to help her win the present game. We can learn a lot from sports — but the best lessons we can learn come from living in the present.

We’re disgusted by society. Disgust isn’t enough. A social media rant solves nothing. Society is a reflection of what we stand for as consumers. As long as we continue to accept it, the status quo and what is mainstream in our culture is merely a reflection of us.

As long as we continue to accept (or be indifferent to) the behaviors that disgust us the most, we will continue to find our attitudes reflected by the media. We’re appalled at the NFL players who openly disrespect our flag, and yet we have given them this platform. We continue to look on in dismay, but unwilling to change our behavior. I admit, this is much easier to say, than to act upon, but when our attention is given as much value as it has been given in today’s data-driven world, we have more power than we realize. We’re just unwilling to use it.

Professional sports, mainstream media, pop-culture — everything we subscribe to as Americans is fueled by our adulation and idolization of the almighty dollar. And we’re bought into it, which continues to fuel the patterns and behaviors that we’ve allowed to become billion dollar industries.

If we really want to raise our standards, as a society, it will begin with raising our standards as individuals. And, in turn, holding our elected officials accountable to the standards we believe are right for our communities.

If we’re not willing to take a stand, and we’re just going to continue filling social media news feeds with rants that will not change anything, and will be drowned out by the noise, then we are contributing to the problem. Whether we realize it or not, our dissatisfaction is just making it worse. We have to find a way to change the rules. We have to demand something to change, and we have to be willing to sacrifice something to get there.

Is it too simplistic to suggest that the solution lies in love, acceptance and finally ending bigotry — in our neighborhoods and elementary schools? Could the next generation of superstars be different? I believe we are responsible for finding out.

I was leaving a leadership retreat this morning. I was in unfamiliar territory, and uncertain about my directions. (Shout out Leadership Polk – BCE!)

Being uncertain about my directions is nothing new to me. Navigation is not my strong suit. And, thankfully I live in a time where technology makes this weakness less of a liability than it was prior to GPS and smart phones.

However, for some reason, this morning, my phone signal was not connecting to the network, and I was on my own. I assumed it would be a temporary glitch, and would automatically self-correct. I just needed to make the initial decisions to avoid wasting too much time, once the voice stopped saying “GPS Signal Lost.”

I realized on this trip something that I felt was worth fleshing out in a little bit more detail today for my post that I thought might resonate with you. Here’s what I started to think about while I waited for the guiding voice to return:

Life is much like our GPS devices. We’re tuned into the signal, connected and sure about the voyage we are on. When we’re “on,” we have no doubts about our travels — we know where we’re going and we know how to get there.

But sometimes, the signal gets lost.

And our decisions require a little more intentional thought to get us “Somewhere more familiar,” so that we can continue our journey without wasting too much time.

When the GPS wasn’t calibrated, I had to rely on myself. I had to think a little more. And, after a few moments of “winging it,” I started to realize how little I had paid attention to the landmarks on my way. Luckily, I didn’t get lost (this time), and before too long, the familiar voice of the GPS navigation started to help me feel more confident about my directions. But there was definite uncertainty about where I was going, until her voice was there to reassure me.

This made me think about how similar this experience is to life, in general. When we’re confident about the path, sure of the direction we’re heading, are we paying attention to the little things — the smile of a stranger, or the innocent question of a child? When we’re driven (no pun intended) by our confidence that we have it all figured out, and we’re in our own element, it seems we start to tune out the periphery — all of the important details for us to truly comprehend the world from all angles.

When we are vulnerable (aka “lost”), we are forced to pay closer attention to the details.

So, this led me to the question — “Is our dependence on the familiar route limiting us somehow?”

And, if so, what actions do we need to take to make sure that this dependence doesn’t numb us to the world around us? If we stop paying attention to our surroundings, how will we be able to continue to grow, and build on our knowledge?

It takes confidence and experience to be able to make good decisions. If we’re not equipped to make those decisions without a computerized voice telling us to turn left in 500 feet, what else are we giving away when we give away this power?

And, what else are we missing along the way? Should we get lost more often?