Spoons, Sugar Packets & Paddle Boards: Isn't it Ironic?

I had lunch last week with a few fellow life coaches, and we had a serious problem: one leg of our outdoor table was about 1/2" above the others. When my ginger apple carrot juice was delivered, it splashed all over the tabletop. 

So, my friend Jen stepped in. She slipped something on the ground underneath the table leg. Right there in mid-conversation, she just bravely swept in and took care of it. Her head was suddenly under the table, then she came back up and said "all better."  

Only problem was... what she found to put under the table leg was a cracker. That's right, a cracker! 

Within minutes, the cracker had turned to dust and the table was flopping around again, so Jen had to make a new plan: sugar packets. Voila. 

It reminded me of the line in Alanis Morissette's song Ironic, "like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife..." It's a great statement about having the right tools for the job.

It also got me thinking about my recent birthday present, and an element of my coaching practice. 

The Paddle Board
Let me set the scene: for two years, I've been trying to stand up on our blow-up paddle board at our neighborhood lake. When I try my legs turn into well-cooked noodles and I lose my balance and splash into the water. (And yes, I can hear the laughing of my family from the shore.) And that's on a really good day, when I'm willing to try.

I have more often than not sat on my folding chair, watching the 60+ demographic, God Bless Them, and others with their toddlers or dogs in tow, standing up and rowing right by me without a care in the world.

I pretend I don't see them. I read my book or enjoy the scenery, notice the cool breeze and warm sun. I've rowed all the way across the lake on my knees, convincing myself that it's just as good. I'm not that competitive, I'll tell myself, I don't feel like doing it today. 

This year for my birthday, my husband bought a new and improved paddle board, and my first time out I did it - I stood right up and rowed all the way across the lake. What a feeling! 

I realized that our old paddle board, not my mindset, was the problem. Our old one had a rudder that wasn't on right, it didn't hold enough air, and let's face it - it was pretty narrow. The new one, well... it ROCKS. And on it, I am UNSTOPPABLE.

I may have been thinking too much about mindset (thanks to Carol Dweck and her brilliant book, Mindset), and maybe not enough about having the right tools for the job, in the real world. 

I might even be able to do this someday... 

My Coaching
Removing Obstacles Through Action
You might be going through life using crackers and washed-up paddle boards (metaphorically speaking of course) to solve your right here, right now problems. 

This could be wasting a lot of your time. 

Let me give you an example. Let's say you have read a stack of self-help books about happiness, and all of them advise you to think positively. That's great advice! 

So, you have kept a gratitude journal. You write down three things you're grateful for every night before going to bed.

When a negative thought, something like "you are unlovable and less attractive than Aunt Maude/Uncle Earl" pops into your head, you brush it away. You distract yourself by eating chocolate or doing a tequila shot. 

The result? You feel better in the moment, but the thought keeps coming back. You get full/a sugar high/drunk. You have effectively reached for a spoon solution, one of the 57 in your chaotic silverware drawer, instead of searching for that razor-sharp knife you actually need. 

So what to do with this recurring thought? Rather than ignoring it (the tool you defer to), you may have to give it the time of day.

Shed some light on it, take it out like a treasure from the back of your china cabinet or sock drawer and dust it off. Take a look at it and say, "what are you here for, and what are you trying to tell me?" 

As a coach, I love walking clients through the process of examining thoughts. It can be surprising, wobbly, and deeply satisfying. Like paddling across a ripply lake, the wide sky on the horizon. 




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