Share It — Your Gifts, Your Talents, You

“How you going to be dope and keep it to yourself?” he asked earnestly, flashing his winning smile, which devolved quickly to a pressed lip smirk, coupled with eyes that were visors, throwing all the shade. The seemingly odd combination somehow perfectly accented and punctuated his statement question. For over three hours, my cousin and I sat, ate (sidenote: we had some delicious oxtails, rice and plantains, which was pronounced exactly as it is spelt by our white waitress, which sounded foreign to our Caribbean-bred ears, never hearing it pronounced that way except by white folk in NYC who have recently Columbused our beloved ripe banana), drank (quite a bit of rum, bourbon and whiskey), and conversed. The topics ranged from trashy, binge-worthy television shows to family gossip to podcasts to personal stories.

My cousin, like me, is a writer and he is gifted to be able to put his words to melodies, creating music that makes you feel, dance and sing, often all at the same damn time. Towards the end of the night, he shared that he struggles with his writing process because he overly criticizes his work, concerned with what others will think about his music, which then delays and often torpedoes the whole creative adventure. As a response, I shared two brief stories, one from Debbie Allen and one from Jerry Seinfeld. Debbie Allen, who is amazing and you need to google her if you do not know who she is, shared a question that her Pulitzer prize nominated momma, Vivian Allen, asked her and her sister, Phylicia Rashad, who you also need to google if you do not know who she is; in fact, lose yourself in a wikipedia vortex of the Allens (sidenote: Stop. Take a moment. Clap for all that #blackgirlmagic in that household). She would ask her daughters, “What have you done today that helped you get closer to your dream?” Action. Getting closer to one’s dream requires it. Similarly, Jerry Seinfeld, I would say google him but I have a sneaky suspicion that y’all already know this white male comedian (sidenote: I’m sucking/kissing my teeth right now cause race and gender), shared a seemingly simple practice with an up and coming comedian to help them improve their craft so they could hopefully become successful (such a loaded word — I would argue that the younger comedian is already successful because they are actively pursuing their passion, yet American society would say otherwise because they’re not rich and famous). Seinfeld told them to buy a calendar and every day, whether they felt like it or not, to write a joke; it did not have to be a complete joke or even a particularly long joke, but it had to be written done. Action. And, afterwards, they should draw a big [insert your favorite color] X over the day and watch, with growing pride at its increasing length, their X-snake (phallic much?). He mentioned that he would sometimes write what he knew was a crappy joke just to keep his streak going. He also warned that if the comedian missed a day, it would make it easier to miss the next day and so on, creating a blank calendar snake that would also be challenging to break.

I shared those two stories with my cousin and we both came to the conclusion that dream-realizing requires action, daily. So here is my first X as I get back in the habit of closing the canyon sized gap between my thoughts and my writing. And whenever my cousin wakes up from his full belly, alcohol infused sleep, in his inbox will be a link to this post, a reminder that he now has to actively do something so that he too can start his own X-chain.

The last ones to leave the restaurant, sans the workers, who were busy with their closing time routines well before we paid our bill, I told my cousin gushingly that he was awesome. He retorted, “I already know that…but, thank you.” I playfully countered, “So, you have to share it!”

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Want To Accomplish Your Goal? Then, Say Nothing At All

Snore! Snore! I quietly tip toe past my friend, who is asleep on the couch with the television loudly watching him. Creeping towards the door, he has no idea that I am leaving the apartment for a morning run. The elevator doors open, and I slip on my gloves and adjust my knit hat over my ears, preparing for the brick-like morning chill that will undoubtedly blast me as I jog around my neighborhood’s park.

A while ago, I came across research that stated that people who share their goals with others are less likely to accomplish them. Wait, what?! According to the study, when others offer congratulations, high energy, and even acknowledgment toward your goal, one’s body mistakenly interprets that information; it assumes that you are one step closer to the goal,  even though no work has been done. That good feeling that you receive from that person’s smile or well wishes translates into a false sense of satisfaction. Our mind misunderstands the talking for the doing because it experiences a similar feeling that normally happens after we attain our goal. Thus, we are less likely to perform the necessary work toward the goal because our minds are convinced we have done much more than we actually have.

So should one never share one’s goals?

You can still share your goals, but state them in a way that allows others to keep you accountable. For example, if you want to run a marathon, one should say: “Hey Friend, I would like to run a marathon and will need to go running at least five times a week. Kick my butt if I don’t!” This statement states your goal in a way that elicits shared accountability between you and your friend.

Once I told my friend that I was running in the morning, I stopped running in the morning.

When I did not say anything, my goal of losing weight and toning my body was personal, a goal strictly for me. When I said something, my goal entered the public sphere and suddenly, I became satisfied with my past success…unfortunately regressing in my ultimate goal.

No more sharing my goals with anyone; I would rather accomplish them.