Leadership with heart, mind, and soul

Is This All There Is?

Added on by Sam Davidson.

We've all left a movie before where we thought, "Is that it?" Maybe the ending is different than we thought, or maybe we wanted the show to continue because it was so good. Regardless, there's no denying that when we ask that question, no matter the situation, we're left with an empty feeling inside and have to retreat to our own imaginations to reach a conclusion we like.

One could easily get that feeling walking into a Bread and Company store in Nashville. Even though I've lived here a while and Bread and Company is a popular joint, I only went for the third time ever yesterday. If you come in the back door (where most of the parking is) you see a refrigerated section along the left wall, full of pre-made sandwiches and salads. To the immediate right is one of several cash registers. Because the rest of the food is around the corner and hidden from the direct line of sight, one could easily think, "Is this all there is? Why do people rave about a place that only has chilled, already-made sandwiches?"

Of course, that's not all there is. By taking a few more steps, one can easily see the availability of made-to-order sandwiches, as well as a healthy choice of side items like pasta salad, chicken tenders, and quesadillas. But you don't get that bountiful selection if you stop short, satisfied with the first thing you see.

A lot of times, we do that. We stop with what we're given. And, like the movie, we have to rationalize our own satisfaction in order to live with ourselves. And so we leave with a forced contentment that pales in comparison to what is possible if we'd do two simple things: ask and explore.

The next time you find yourself shortchanged or wondering if there's more, just ask. While it puts us in a place of vulnerability and discomfort, if we're a realist, we'll see that the worst we'll get is a 'no' answer. Asking if you can get that burger without pickles keeps you from having to pick them off and prevents that pickle taste from that pickle residue you hate so much. Asking if something can be done differently opens up creative possibility and may allow your team to arrive at a new solution that saves the company time and money. Asking for a raise may make you wealthier. But none of that happens if you don't dare to question in the first place.

And if it seems as though no one's around to ask, go explore things on your own. The pioneers set out to chart the uncharted territories because no one could answer the question of "What's out there?" The stakes are a little higher here because someone might see us exploring and see us come up empty handed. But if we come up full handed, then we're successful beyond measure. An extra step (around the lunch counter) can result in the beginning of a new journey (to tastiness). Your initiative to make a new friend might result in a lifelong relationship. Your exploration of a new part of the city saves you from frequenting the same haunts you've grown tired of. And spending the time to explore new ideas just might help your nonprofit raise more money and recruit more volunteers than ever before.

Often times, remarkable is right around the corner. So few people find it because they're simply not willing to ask or explore.

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