Fictional Case Study (julie’s jelly)

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When we do more than we think (more actions with less pondering), we create the paths that we choose to walk down.  We make our own life happen, the way we want it to…the way that is most tailored for who we are deep down to the core.  We live, and die on our own sword.  

Take this fictional story as an example:  33 year old mom of two boys, Julie…wants to start her own jelly business.  She’s passionate about the strawberry jelly she makes at home. Her family loves it. She wants to start selling it online, to get it to as many folks as possible, and to create another stream of income for the family.  Her job as an elementary school teacher doesn’t provide her with the income that she really desires.

Julie tells her coworker (John) about her business idea at lunch break.  John says, ‘yeah that sounds fun, but I don’t think I’d ever buy jelly over the internet.’  

Julie then tells her boss Stacey (the principal at her school), who she is really friendly with. Stacey says, ‘It’s a good idea, but I tried selling candles online….and it didn’t really amount to much.  It’s harder than it looks.’

I hope you can identify with Julie.  She is really passionate and interested in her idea, but the two people that she thought would encourage her the most to go do it…actually shot her idea down.  Now, if Julie is thick-skinned, and loves a ‘chip on her shoulder’ attitude, she can use it to motivate her even more so. But most of us would start second guessing our idea, thinking, ‘maybe it is too hard to sell online…I’m not sure people will buy my jelly after all’.  Before you know it, Julie has put the recipe, canning jars, and label maker in the back of the cabinet.  

John and Stacey aren’t to blame for this.  If we went back and told them how Julie felt after speaking to them, they’d probably say that they didn’t mean to deter her at all…she probably caught them at a tough time during the day…and they actually really believe in Julie’s business idea…of course she should do it!  They were telling stories that they thought would be valuable to Julie, knowing what to expect when she does do it.  

This story illustrates the fact that we often put our hopes and dreams in the hands of others.  And we often choose people who aren’t necessarily ready to accept, and then motivate us in a way that’s tailor made for us.  We’re actually expecting too much from others when we do that. We look to others (who aren’t even aware by the way) to inspire and motivate us…to encourage our ideas.  That’s just a losing mentality.

I understand wanting to tell people what your up to.  It’s realistic that we’re going to socialize and share what’s top of mind.  But we need to be totally cognizant of what’s going on, in order to not get discouraged about our own ideas.  We need to be the one in control.

If Julie is like most people, when her husband asks her about that business she wanted to start, she’ll now have excuses and blame to be placed…both of which have nothing to do with her own self.  She may even start complaining more about her co-workers, and the fact that she doesn’t have enough money, and that the government makes it too hard to start businesses where she lives, and that learning to be tech savvy, and to figure out social media branding takes way too long and isn’t worth it.  

Because of what someone else said, and how they seemed to feel about it, she now isn’t going to follow up on her idea.  So sad! Do you see how Julie isn’t truly in control of her own life? She’s now dying on John and Stacey’s sword!

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What Julie could have done, had she considered doing more than thinking, is create an Etsy and Pinterest account and start tinkering with the sites, realizing which would be best for her.  After a couple of hours, she’d be savvy enough to post simple pictures and text.

She could have brainstormed a simple and catchy business name, and created an interesting logo for her brand.

She might have researched prices and locations for strawberries and sugar, and jars and labels, in order to find the most affordable way of getting a jar totally ready for the market.  

She could have created a Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat account for her jelly, so that she’d be able to get the attention of others with her brand.  

She may have called 15 local food, garden, and furniture stores, asking if her jelly could be sold there.  

She even could have started her own podcast…recording episodes mostly focused on everything jelly!

By the way, with today’s technology and opportunity, she could have done all of this on her laptop or phone while lying in bed wearing pajamas!  

And I have a funny feeling that if she had done all of this, and then went and told her co-workers, it would be a totally different conversation and outcome.  And even if the conversation was similar, the confidence and self-esteem Julie built up through her work, would allow her to smirk at the otherwise discouraging words said by John and Stacey.  

This Julie isn’t complaining or blaming.  She’s using all of her time and energy to do more.  She’s putting it all into her jelly business.  And guess who’s sword she’s living and dying on now?  Her own sword.

As much as I don’t want her to die, let’s look at how that actually is a possibility:

If we have to guts to live a life on our own terms, we must consider the fact that we will die that way too.  I respect and believe in that meritocracy all the way. We can’t have it one way, and not the other.

Look, Julie’s jelly might actually suck.  Maybe her family is spitting it out, or passing it to the dog under the table, and they’re too nice to be honest with her about it.  Julie could do all of this doing on the back of a crap product…and after the first round of sales, she’d die.  

Or, maybe Julie isn’t kind.  She doesn’t bring any value to the store owners that are carrying her product, she’s very hard to communicate with, and she doesn’t engage with any of her audience on the social media platforms.  She’s going to die.

While the doing should be the baseline…the norm…other variables like quality, consistency, kindness, value, etc. will certainly play their part.   

But remember, it feels so much better to die on your own sword than someone else’s.  As you can see, all of the blaming and responsibility come back to you when you put this into practice.  If your product didn’t work out how you anticipated that it would, it’s because of your own actions, or lack thereof.  This shouldering of all of the responsibility is actually liberating, though it seems more like pressure. Again, along with the control or autonomy you desire to have your own business or live your own life…you must accept the meritocracy…and the fact that it all comes back to you, good or bad.  Ultimate responsibility…ultimate freedom.

Now, if Julie’s jelly really does suck…all of that doing, experimenting, executing that she did, provided her with a foundation of data to sit on. All of the confidence and self-esteem and pride she has built up through the work, allows her a framework to adjust from.  Look, businesses mostly don’t get it right the first time. Great businesses listen to the market, and adjust accordingly. Julie may need to change the recipe, the label, the jar. She may need to adjust her attitude, her kindness level, her methods of communication. This is where we either fail and we’re done (we die on our own sword)…or we fail, learn, adjust, try (wield our sword again), and then win!   

To Do more than you think, means that you’re the one in control of your own destiny. You’re wielding your own sword. Your life isn’t happening to you…YOU are making your own life happen!

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Now, sharpen up that sword…and get out there!

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tell me a story

‘there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so’ – Shakespeare

 

What kind of story are you telling?  What type of narrative streams through you?  We all have certain filters and lenses that we view the world through.  And we all accept or determine what happens in our world depending on what we see.  Maybe you’re 20/20…or maybe you need a new prescription.

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The story that you are telling is directly related to the thoughts you are having…so it’s really the story that you’re telling yourself.  When you open your eyes first thing in the morning, what are your thoughts?  Are they positive and ‘bucket filling’ to coin a term used by my neighbor, or do you start the day off with negative ’emptying’ thoughts?  “If you win the morning, you win the day,’ according to Tim Ferriss, and understanding the start to your day may help in determining how you feel when you lay your head down at night.  In this sense though, the morning is a defining moment…you’re still hatching, and your mind is a blend of subconscious and conscious thought.  You are the true sense of yourself, and don’t yet wear the mask of the day.  If you’re not aware of your own thoughts, and you’re trying to build self-awareness, this is a good place to start… write down what you’re feeling, or at least notice…do I feel good, healthy, ready, depressed, lethargic?   

For the most part of my life, I told myself stories that weren’t helpful.  I viewed the world as a place where things happened to me…some good things yes…but mostly a bunch of small, negative things.  I often found a routine of complaining (to myself and out loud), being annoyed at the system and at other people (mostly people I envied), and wondering why me? and why don’t I get the breaks that others find so easily?  


My mornings were dreaded, and I wasn’t excited to start the day.  I didn’t enjoy being around other people too much…especially anyone who challenged me.  And even things that were achieved that I thought would get me beyond that story were short lived…and it started all over the next day.  Writing this sounds depressing.  But interestingly enough, I would say that I view my entire life as being ‘happy’.  I guess I just thought that’s how everyone lived and that it was out of my control.  I wasn’t sad about it, but I knew there was another way.   


I also noticed many others doing the same thing so I didn’t feel alone.  For the most part, the two negative emotions commonly threading through most people is anger and fear.  Tony Robbins talks a lot about these.  The place I noticed it most often, and a good test site for you…is driving in the car.  Driving is so unique in that we’re boxed in, somewhat secluded, a little bit hidden, but also interacting and dancing with other people…how crazy!  I can think of many instances while riding with others when the driver of the car I was in immediately created a negative story about what was going on around us.  Someone riding a bike on the road and the driver would say something like, ‘what does this ________  think he’s doing?’ Fill in the blank with your favorite vulgar term.  Or at a 4 way stop…one car chooses not to obey the unwritten rule of ‘if we arrive at the same time, the car on the right gets to go first’.  ‘What the _____ does that _______ think he’s doing?’  Car talk is a great way to check yourself and listen to the story that is being told.  Ultimately, the tale is up to you.  


I used to drive like an idiot.  It’s actually embarrassing to think about, especially with the loud and obnoxious vehicles I chose.  I would often try to ‘get people back’ on the road, teach them a lesson, and get places as fast as humanly possible.  It basically resulted in more stress, more speeding tickets, and a feeling of always running late.  These days I drive slow.  I try to avoid all stress and people that are clearly in a huge rush.  And I never get upset about what others are doing…well almost never.  It’s a work in progress ok? What I came to realize though, is that a lot of what makes up our day, our feelings, our happiness or lack thereof, our relationships…is simply based on our thoughts surrounding them.  A more important realization for me though, is that we get to decide on our thoughts.  And based on those thoughts, we get to create actions and reactions.  


Like most things, this isn’t a quick switch.  And it can take a lot of practice.  A lot of changing habits.  And a bunch of self-reflection.  You may not love what you see!  But that’s a good time to put some work into drafting a new story…one that doesn’t have to speak of the negativity and anger and fear, but one that will tell of all the joy and love you have in your world.      

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There are many ways to start drafting that story.  One theme that has worked for me, and that I see threaded within other folks that I’ve been reading about, is gratitude and appreciation.  Finding ways to incorporate these ideas into your thoughts will radically change your perspective and give you a new lens prescription. Tony Robbins says Turn your expectations into appreciation and your whole life will change’. By appreciating the things you have, and the people you know, you continually tell yourself an enriching and fulfilling story. You frequently remind yourself of the good, and strip away a lot of the bad.  And you find that you can fill your own bucket so to speak.  

How to we start though, and how do we practice often?  Some ideas that come to mind…1. Write in your journal every night or every morning 3 things that you’re grateful for.  2. Sit and think of a person you appreciate.  Remember back to things that they’ve done or said that you loved, and just hold on to those thoughts for 10 minutes with your eyes closed.  3. Wish happiness on others.  Simply choose a person.  This can be someone you know, or even a stranger walking by.  Take a deep breath, and wish for that person to be happy today.  Do that for 3 people every day.  4. Write a handwritten thank you note to someone and snail mail it to them.  Everyone has someone right now that they can thank for something.  If you can’t think of a ‘thank you’, send a ‘You’re cool’ or ‘thinking of you’ card to someone…just letting them know that they’re in your thoughts and you love them!  These may seem daunting to you at first, but honestly, these are very simple to execute.  And the return on investment is outstanding…immeasurable.  

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Movie:  Stranger than Fiction.  Click here for a great clip from the movie. This is Will Ferrell in a serious role.  He hears his life being narrated by an author, finds out about his ‘imminent death’, and must decide on what story to tell himself, and how to live…great connection to my post!  I have the movie if you want to borrow it.  And just like I said in my Reading List, I will barter for fine coffee and pastries!  Joking…unless you have some. 


Music:  Gregory Alan Isakov. Soft acoustic. California. Song Writing. Emotions. Click here to listen…and love it.