The other day my dog-walker, Pam, showed up at 1 o’clock instead of 3, like she usually does.
“Wow,” I said, “Sadie’ll be so glad to see you! Her walk this morning was pretty short.”
“I should get here early from now on,” Pam said, smiling. “I finally arranged it so that my walks are all in this area. My life is a hundred times easier. And actually, that’s thanks to you. Remember that talk we had, almost a year ago?”
I remembered. One day last year, she’d come in super-late – as in, later than usual – looking really stressed. Her dog-walking business was booming, but it was wearing her out. She had clients all over Manhattan, so every day she had to rush up and down the city to get to the next dog.
“You asked me what my bigger vision was,” she said now, “for what I wanted my business to be. And it was to have all the dogs in one area. That question completely changed my outlook.
“Up until then,” she went on, “I said yes to everyone, no matter what. Any time someone asked me to walk their dog, I’d say yes. It didn’t matter if it stressed me out, and stressed the other dogs out because they were waiting for so long– I thought I had to say yes to everyone.
“But when you asked me that, I realized I could have a vision. I could have all my dogs close to each other. I could say no to what didn’t work for me. I’d refer those clients to other businesses, and ask those businesses to refer clients to me. That way, I’d make the same amount of money, and everyone would be happy.
“It took about a year to make it happen. But, I did it. And now I have exactly that. And it was all because you asked what my vision was.”
She thought for a second, then said, “You know what? I have so many friends who get all stressed out, trying to manage their emotions. That’s what I thought I had to do. That’s what they teach you in therapy, right? Learn to manage your emotions. But that’s not always the solution. Sometimes you need to manage the situation that’s creating the stress.
She’s so right. Managing stress can be stressful! Wouldn’t it be so much better to get to the root of the issue? (Remember my coffee disaster, how I was sitting on a tack?)
So often, we forget the bigger vision. We’re so caught up in managing stress (and all the emotions that go along with it) that we start thinking small. Our vision becomes myopic. And our actions follow.
Don’t get me wrong – it is important to know how to manage stress. We dohave control over how we perceive and handle it.
But sometimes, stress is pointing us in another direction. Sometimes it’s telling us, Look. Things can be better. You’ve got to make a change.
With Pam, I was able to shift her consciousness, in just one conversation, to a new perspective.
Just one question opened up a whole world of possibilities. She didn’t need any prompting once she got started. The ideas kept coming, and she began to see her vision in more and more detail. Like how she could network with other walkers to trade clients. It started to fall into place.
Now, Pam’s dog-walking business is even more successful than it was before. She can take on more clients, hire more staff, and walk more dogs. She’s happier. And it’s had ripple effects throughout the city, because other dog-walking businesses are able to localize, too. All because of one simple question.
What about you? What’s an issue you’re facing right now that’s stressing you out?
What’s your bigger vision?
Based on that vision, what could you do differently?
What’s possible, when you see your vision unclouded by stress?
Even just asking those questions can shift your perspective – even if you don’t have perfect answers yet. They change your mindset to be more about opportunity and creativity, and less about restriction and control. They open up a new approach. From there, the possibilities really are endless.
And with that mindset, you can go out and shine.
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