The Rough Start

Last weekend, my son and I went to Washington & Lee (W&L) University to watch the Southern Virginia University (SVU) Women’s Volleyball team play in a tournament.

When we got there, the tournament was nowhere to be found. My son could tell I was disappointed; I wanted to show up for and to support these athletes.

He said to me, “We tried.”

We did try. And in retrospect, that is more important than I thought at the time.

A week earlier, I had planned to go to an SVU football game and didn’t manage to leave the house. It was a Thursday evening and the end of a long day with my emotional and physical bandwidth depleted.

But this time, I had shown up, even if I missed the match.

I could interpret this apparent failure as an “oh well, don’t even bother trying next time. It’s not worth it.” That’s one signal I can send my brain.

Or there’s a different, better signal: even though we didn’t see the match, and we were disappointed, I also activated, albeit slightly, a neural pathway that I do go to sporting / extracurricular activities at SVU. I am making efforts to be a supporter.

It is so easy to focus on outcome versus process. That’s why we often default to that.

The outcome I was expecting, to go to the volleyball tournament and actually cheer for our young women in their match, didn’t work out, so the process needs some work.

In retrospect, the process was off, at least in part, because I didn’t ask more questions. I could have done that once we arrived there and were stymied. Is there possibly another gym? I could have double-checked where the match was being held before we left home. Those, and others, are the process questions I want to be asking.

Those process questions aside, if I want my life process to include going to these events, I am choosing to reframe the actual experience last weekend. Like this:

I planned to go to a sporting event for SVU. Instead of not going as had happened previously, I got in the car, arrived at the venue, and sat in the gym. I allocated time, mental, physical, and emotional capacity to be there. This means that I have started to create a neural pathway (it’s a cow path at this point, I know), but it is the start of a path, nonetheless, that says I show up for students at SVU. Starting something new can be rough. But it’s still a start.

What about you? What is something that you set off to do this past week that didn’t result in the outcome you hoped for or expected? What about that initiative did go right? What small neural pathway started to form, the unfulfilled outcome notwithstanding?

This week’s podcast episode is with Becky Robinson, founder of an online PR agency focusing on PR for book launches and author of the book Reach, for which I had the privilege of writing the foreword.

If you have an idea that you believe is important and want to share with the world, perhaps through a book, you will want to listen to this podcast episode.

As always, thanks for being here!

My best,

P.S. Next week is a big week! We are doing a LinkedIn Live on Monday, September 19th, and launching a LinkedIn Learning course that will be free for 24 hours. It’s focused on creating conditions where growth can occur –– a deep dive into the Ecosystem chapter of Smart Growth.

Click to access the login or register cheese