Tuesday, 18th June 2013
The reason the barista asks for your name when you order a coffee is to make a connection. But if you can't get the name the first time around, it’s sort of awkward. Um, how do you spell that? I understand why some friends have special names for just these interactions.
When placing their name on a waiting list or shimmying up to the juice bar and asked for a name, they're ready to offer the simple: Sam. Susan. Michael. Or the ridiculous: Pumpernickel. Salmon. Bushwick.
The idea behind asking the customer for her name is to make it personal. See, now we know each other by our first names. It's a nice touch when it works. But we're not robots. If you've asked a million times before you get to me, don't you think I'll notice? Looks like you've been here for hours, friend. I can tell by the glaze of your eyes and the dampness of your gestures. But if you ask, I'll play along. Maybe we'll really connect. And then you yell Soy Latte instead of Denmo and I realize you've dropped the ball. You didn't follow through. You just followed orders.
We all play roles ~ in family, at work, within community. Your role is vital to the big picture. But if you become complacent (Whatever. There's nothing to be done anyway. I mean, it could be worse) well you might start to feel like you're walking uphill in a river of sludge. Someone else can pick up the phone. I'm not available for another 3 weeks. That’s like a mile out of my way.
Complacency is a pretty good sign you’re done. Except you haven’t actually quit. You continue to do the deed, pretending all is well. There you are, walking car that’s out of gas, alternately steering and pushing it by yourself on the highway. Whoops—you just passed the gas station. That was weird. And then you pass the hotel. Odd. Two chances to refuel and rest and you passed it up. Seems like you’re not really ready to change. Ah. Right. You’re content with walking the car.
In a recent private consult, I was in dialogue with my client about noticing the patterns we so often don’t like about ourselves. The goal I said was not to rid yourself of your neurosis but to own it.
I’ll admit that complacency makes me furious. It’s a way of hiding. It goes something like this. You run out of gas. You conclude it's not going to change. You accept this as truth. You walk the car.
This is the mind of the coward. The coward’s intelligence is in their ability to defend their lowly position with proof of what has happened or what is happening. And the coward's pain threshold is vast. They are masters at enduring strife. The coward hardly ever complains. Not because of some profound Tao Te Ching understanding or deep personal integrity but because of ignorance; they don't see the miles of shackles hung around their neck. The saddest part? They lose their ability to imagine. They cannot envision any situation other than the one they are currently in, which is one of the biggest reasons they stay put. Cowards act as both the oppressor and the oppressed.
The coward doesn’t’ have to be an identity. It can be as simple as an attitude. How does your coward show face? And once you know those telltale signs, ask yourself why your coward showed up. What are you afraid of again?
That you might be rejected?
That you're not good enough?
That it's a bad idea?
Maybe you'll fail?
No one will like you?
You'll be humiliated?
It'll be really expensive?
You might like it?
It would change everything?
No doubt doing this will make you feel uncomfortable. But it won't kill you. (I know you don't need me to say that, but it’s a good reminder.) It might feel like you’re dying but that's not actually the same thing.
Create the new workshop you've been thinking about. Ask out the cutie at work. Move out of your house. Go into nature and request divine guidance. Clean out your closet. Sit and do nothing. Write your ideal job description and propose it to your boss. Make the first call and apologize.
What do all these things have in common? They start with a verb. Every time you let fear inhibit action, you empower the coward.
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