Why is it that a closed door, a “thanks but no thanks” or a flat “no, way” – no matter how badly we wanted something, more often than not feels like a gift. Fills us with hope and yes, relief.
I recently received a “no” to an application that I thought would be potentially the single biggest opportunity for Serendipity to come around this year. It was a long shot to say the least and the truth is, we weren’t anywhere near ready for it, but I know we could have been. I knew going in that I was putting it in God’s hands. And in God’s hands it remains.
What this particular rejection did for me was to make me look honestly at what I’m doing and evaluate how it matches up with what’s actually in my head, what’s in my heart. What am I capable of that is uniquely mine? Am I really putting that out in the world?
And the conclusion was easy to reach.
Not really. I’m not pushing far enough into something unique and interesting…enough. I’m not pushing myself into extraordinary territory. I’m not putting “it” out there enough. Whatever “it” actually is.
But the good news here, is I risked the rejection to find this out. And that leads me to this life altering gem of an idea.
I been listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast recently and I’m forever changed by this one single idea he discussed in his 12 Rules for Life podcast (season 3, episode 7): Pull the goalie. Every time. As a girl for whom hockey is the only sport I actually watch without being forced – I get this! And I’m 100% unable to stop thinking about what that means for me specifically, but also for the big challenges in life.
In case it’s not your sport, in the last one(ish) minutes of a hockey game the losing team opts to pull the goalie from the net which allows them to put one more offensive player on the ice. This means of course, that the net is undefended, but when you are already losing, getting another player on the ice who can get the puck in the net is kind of a no-brainer assuming you don’t create too much opportunity for an embarrassing final score. What MG shares is that statistically coaches have a higher probability of winning games if they pull the goalie much earlier. Think 5-11 minutes rather than 1-2. That choice however would be so radical, so controversial so easy to become the target of fan and stakeholder rage when the inevitable blowout loss occurs that no one ever makes that call.
He contextualizes this across the spectrum of agreeable to disagreeable. The more agreeable your personality or organization is, the less likely you are to pull the goalie. However, the more disagreeable you are, the less likely you are to care about negative feedback or consequences inevitable in a controversial choice like pulling the goalie with 10 minutes left in the game.
And so, I bring this back to Serendipity Workshop, to Erin and to you. I live deep in agreeable territory, real deep. It is very hard for me to consider offending, trespassing on the wrong side of expectation or anything I imagine is asking too much. I don’t want to impose, I want to be liked. Kindness is a core value and my version of kindness probably leans too far in the direction of not speaking my own needs when I feel like someone might be surprised by them. I could go on and on here, but I know so many of us live in this place. What this uber-agreeable worldview too often yields for me is a tentative approach to life. Tentative, halting, over-thinking. There are many words, but the result is usually just plain old not doing. I can picture my very own goalie of agreeability (who seriously must be the best in the league) guarding my choices to make sure no boats are rocked, no risks are taken, no one gets hurt. That net contains a universe of potential and that goalie isn’t letting much through.
Good visual, right? So, pull the goalie.
Pull. The. Goalie. I’m still getting a feel for what life looks like with more disagreeability. Without the goalie, how many things could I fire at the net? How many more chances to succeed might I have if I’m ok with a little more risk?
Here is how I think it works: Do the hard things. Go ahead and give it a try. Even when it feels weird or unexpected or not the way it’s always been done. Push yourself to finish. Have the tough conversation. Say how you feel and mean it. Be honest about what you need. Believe that you are better and stronger and more than you think you are. And most importantly when you fail or embarrass yourself, and YOU WILL FAIL sometimes, learn with gratitude for where that takes you and get back on your skates, sister.