Food 4 Thought:
I am excited to bring you some Food 4 Thought with the intent of sparking new ways to look at and approach your day, tackle the changes we are faced with in life and maximize the opportunities you have to connect and grow with one another.
Today, I am inspired by another great leader and friend, Jessica Swanson, who shared a phenomenal TED article on gratitude. I have made my way through the article and its embedded TED talks and I wanted to highlight one in the Food 4 Thought today.
It is a talk by AJ Jacobs about a topic near and dear to all of our hearts : coffee!!! yeah!! We love our coffee!
…well it is about a bit more than coffee….and it is called:
AJ is a writer who sets about to thank everyone who contributes to the making and serving of his coffee. As with most TED Talks, it is well worth the investment of 15 minutes to listen to him tell that story than to have me recount it here, but here are some of the main discoveries he made:
He writes in his book and recalls in his talk about what this process taught him.
- AJ discovered he could alter his natural disposition of being more grumpy and less grateful to being more earnest, grateful and kind (he says in his book he was “more of a Larry David and less of a Tom Hanks”)
- He discovered that one cup of coffee requires the efforts of hundreds, if not thousands, of people
- AJ learned that this was not a local endeavor, but a global endeavor
- He recounts the way we tend to treat those in service to us as if they are simply robots or automatons vs people with rich, full lives and problems and triumphs just like ours
- AJ describes that his whole world changed, and his posture in it transformed when his young child pointed out to him that instead of thanking people “in theory” around the dinner table, he ought to go out into the world and thank people in person. In other words, his kid prompted him to really show up for the people he was thanking and deeply engage with them vs paying them lip service.
It is this last piece that I want to spend some time on with you because it resonates with me so much. You see, like AJ at the dinner table, theoretically thanking people, I used to think I was doing a lot more to live into my full contribution and purpose at home and at work than I was really doing.
Unlike AJ, it took a lot more than some innocent prompting by a child to change my ways and see a more fully realized way to show up in the world. It took some falling down and some eye opening and a whole lot of loving people, in all the aspects of my life, home, work, church to help me to find a New Life.
A couple of years after that happened, I wrote something about this metamorphosis in my pastor’s blog and then my personal blog.
I am adapting it today to our broader world and my journey over the last few years at work to help me bring my point across.
It is called I Was You, and I want to make it clear I am not implying that this refers to all of you or maybe even most of you, but once, I was this person and maybe there is someone out there who still is? If they read this, however corny it may be, and it helps them find another way to show up, either here or at home, I would be eternally grateful for that.
One more caveat, before I launch into this, I struggle with this every single day. I don’t always get this “Food 4 Thought Guy” thing right. In fact, maybe I get it wrong more than I get it right? The difference is I now have the benefit of seeing some fruit from when I do manage to pull it together and I want more than anything for those that are more like the “old me,” “the more Larry David than Tom Hanks me,” to see that fruit too.
You see I was much like the “pre-caffeinated” AJ once and hopefully, now I am a bit more like the new AJ?
(and I love to drink me some of both the regular version of the coffee mixed with some of the euphemistic version* : i.e. “the coaching cup of coffee for the heart, mind, and soul”)
(*this is an additional inside joke coffee-related homage to the movie Kicking and Screaming (Mosaic Media Group, 2005) starring Will Ferrell-watch his hilarious “coffee evolution” [more like the reverse of AJ : from Hanks to David] here-3:22 if you need a laugh break from this much too serious and syrupy post)
“I was you”
I was you
You wouldn’t know it now
My brand has changed
What you see now is “The Food 4 Thought Guy”
As some of the “yutes” call me, the “Dumbledore Guy”
It is hilarious to me, that when I meet you…
You think I am “one of them”
I used to sit in my silo
Hoping no one would notice
Hoping no one would call me out
It was safe back there
Before I ever moved to a broader role
Before I ever wrote a blog
I prayed my bosses and other leaders wouldn’t make me stretch
Make me go broader
Make me share my ideas wider
I was the “fix it guy”
The seal team commander you call in to tackle a complex project or problem
The guy who comes in and conquers the enemy
…and silently gets ready for the next one
I shined my Swiss Army knife of skills with pride
I avoided the larger community
I now care for so deeply
Took hubristic pity on their endless quest for “magical system solutions”
My old brand was just fine
Only it wasn’t fine at all
I was carrying way too much of “my stuff”
Like a poison that “stuff” leaked out
It was slowly killing me
It was possibly holding back those around me
I thought I could have it all, from the protection of the silo
I thought I needed only a select few around me
Slowly, the broader team started to chip away at the armor
They showed me their new brand
Like a relentless jingle
Their new behaviors and values of better together and courageous vulnerability
Got stuck in my head
And before I knew it I wanted “it”
At first, I turned down many invitations
I smiled and shook hands with many
All the while thinking, I’ll never change
Mysteriously, at some point, I started to say yes
I said yes, I will go try this new role,
Yes, I will go speak with this broader voice,
Yes, I will go teach a larger set of others my skill set,
Yes, I will look my own arrogance and ignorance in the face
Yes, I will give this a chance
Yes, I will be part of the change
Yes, I will lean into encouragement
As I started to say yes, the brand only shined clearer
I started to see glimpses of a different way to be
Glimpses of a different me
All my old stuff came crashing in on the old me
I gave away (most of) my old stuff
I was so tired of carrying it
So tired of languishing and anguishing
I wanted to contribute and care, unconditionally
The way I was cared for
The way their new brand taught me to care
I still feel like an imposter some days
Some days maybe I am?
Most days, I am just grateful
Grateful that the jingle got stuck in my head
And this old heart changed, forever
Bringing it all together
Here is your Food 4 Thought
Ask yourself these questions:
- Are you stuck in an old brand that is more like the old JJ or the old AJ?
- What can some simple practices from AJ’s talk, Jessica’s article, previous Food 4 Thought posts or other sources do to help you change your brand?
- Do you hear what I hear? Do you hear the same jingle? (see what I did there? 🙂 ) If you don’t sincerely believe you are hearing or seeing the change in culture I describe, what can YOU do to make it more a reality?
If this all sounds like a poorly sung Christmas Carol or a hokey soap selling jingle to you, and /or if this does not inspire you to change your brand or move out into the world we inhabit differently, it is ok, after all, it is just food 4 thought.
I love it when I hear stories or receive requests for themes! Just shoot me a message on one of my social platforms and I will add your idea to my list.
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