Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Why Don't They Call?

She was a popular Hollywood celebrity.  Perhaps not A-list, but certainly recognizable after many years in the business.

"And, the hardest thing is this.  No one ever calls me to just have coffee, or to do the things that friends do.  We don't get invited to informal dinners, to just hang out.  No one just stops by.  Everything is fabulous and formal or nothing at all.  Sometimes I feel like the only reason anyone wants to be with me is to get something from me. I think people just assume I'm busy.  It's exhausting."

"Wow," I said.  "How would you like it to be?"

"I'd like to have people who feel comfortable just hanging out.  No agendas.  People who know I'll say 'yes' if it is possible.  People who know that if I say 'no' it's an authentic no, meaning I've already got something booked."

"So, what you really want are friends who are authentic with you."

"Not just authentic, but who are okay with me saying no three times without it counting against me!"

"Okay."  And then, I got quiet.  You see, I get in this same pickle.  My schedule is erratic, un-structured, and un-predictable.  I can be anywhere or nowhere anytime.  I fall off the radar screen regularly and rarely get casual invitations from friends.  I had no solution to offer.  Which is perfect, because I'm in the business of helping people find their own solutions.  So, back to it, Vince.

"I wonder how you might be creating the very results you're complaining about?"

She looked at me quizzically.  "Are you playing one of your mind tricks on me?"
"Well, perhaps.  And, perhaps I'm playing it on both of us.  But, really, what are the things you do that create the exact results you're getting?"

"Let's see.  I tend to only talk about the projects I'm on, or the places I've been lately.  I rarely talk about the mundane and normal things in life.  I don't tend to talk about the supermarket having a special on tomatoes this week."  She gazed off in the distance a bit.

"So, what do you think others make that mean?"

"I suppose it makes me seem above the mundane.  Maybe others are intimidated to talk about tomatoes when I've just gotten back from a month-long location shoot. Maybe I put people off a bit."

"Keep going," I prodded.

"Do I really want to talk about tomatoes?"

My sense was that there was a part of her that precisely wanted to talk about the mundane and normal things of life, like tomatoes at the local market.  I also sensed there was another part of her that had absolutely no interest in talking about tomatoes and only wanted to talk about the exciting and interesting bits.  Perhaps there was a path...  "It sounds like we have competing voices here.  On the one side we have..."

"Be normal!  Enjoy and appreciate the mundane and simple life!  It's about connection, not about amazement!  You are okay when you're ordinary!" 
"And on the other side?"
"You have to shine.  You have to be entertaining!  Everyone expects you to be interesting!  They will leave you in the dust if you're not!"

I could tell something was landing for her.  She fell silent.  "That's exactly what my dad used to say to me."  And then, tears.  "My Dad always wanted me to perform.  He'd have me sing at family events.  He only seemed to notice me if I was performing.  I think he was afraid I would disappear or be a nobody if I didn't entertain well."
"So, it sounds like you keep performing even when the cameras are off.  Tell me what the tears have to say right now."
"My tears like the other voice.  My whole body just wants to let down my guard.  To just be normal, ordinary, mundane.  To just connect.  I can breathe when I think about that."
"Okay.  What would that look like," I asked.
"Well, maybe I can be more conscious of what I share and engage with others about.  Maybe I can talk about tomatoes now and then.  And, not how fabulous my homegrown crop is.  You know what I mean.  Just, ask others about the simple pleasures of their lives.  Share the ordinary.  It doesn't need to be fabulous."
"And if you did that, what might you get?"
"Well, I think it would just be more authentic.  And, frankly, that's worth it, regardless if anyone ever calls me for coffee."

Am I Listening?

A while back, someone said to me, “Wow, Vince, you’re such a good listener!”  It made me wonder what it’s like to be a bad listener!  So, I ...