The first time I heard the term “follow through” was when my dad was teaching me how to make a free throw. He was standing at the foul line, knees slightly bent, ball just above head level. Then, with a slight move of his left hand, he released and swish! “Gotta follow through every time” is what he said.
That follow through lesson, sadly, is not one that translated well off court for me. My follow through got stuck in don’ts and won’ts. ‘You DON’T have enough money/time/skill sets to accomplish fill-in-the-blank’. Or, ‘they WON’T spend money/invest time/recognize skill sets while you attempt to fill-in-the-blank’. You’ll notice I didn’t mention lack of opportunity because opportunities abound. Sometimes they’re presented, other times they’re created, but they are there. For me what happens is an opportunity to exercise my passion and pursue my purpose in perfect alignment with prosperity appears and I’m all cylinders fired in, running on a hundred. Cue the onslaught of self-sabotaging behaviors. I craft Mission Impossible work plans, create Starship Enterprise running on warp speed timetables and I set defeat the Empire deadlines. (*note to POTUS-THAT’s how it’s done.) The work plans self-destruct, Enterprise crash lands on a Borg-inhabited planet and Chewbacca is left frantic trying to fit into a Star Trooper suit. Then I blame my kids, global warming, the Harlem Shake that ain’t really the Harlem Shake craze. What I don’t and won’t do is follow through.
But then, in the way these lessons come, I received an opportunity-because they are there-to get a little healing and be a lot better. I was taking the Social Good Startup workshop with Shana Dressler and Todd Schechter . The group was tasked with creating a five minute pitch presentation. We had two weeks to prepare. In my head, I created the deck and the dialogue; I just needed to input the data. Two hours before I needed to leave for the session, I sat down to do my presentation. Fifteen minutes later, I stood up, said to hell with the whole thing, kicked my boots off and made a cup of Zen tea. And there I was feeling undecidedly Zen. I knew that as embarrassed as I was going be waving my EPIC FAIL flag in front of the class, I would feel worse for not following through after weeks of showing up as an active participant. I knew that I needed to show up to support the others who had done the work and that I needed to show up for myself. So I did. And even though I still haven’t apologized to my cohort-mates or to Shana who had to have been questioning her OWN skill sets after sitting through that prison camp torture of a presentation which I mercifully ended at four minutes and 10 seconds, I did it (sorry, Ya’ll!). It was rickety, raggedy, wick wick wack but I followed through. And that felt good.
I’d be as wrong as the fake Harlem Shake to think that one moment of feel good is enough to keep me following through. I’d also be wrong to adopt fake-it-until-you-make-it as a long term strategy. I know I need steady doses of follow through framed around style and substance to see that moment grow into momentum sustained. A brilliantly creative friend of mine recently applied to be a part of Macy’s Product Development program. She forwarded a copy of the rejection letter they sent. Instead of breaking down and giving up, she remained open to moving forward-to following through. She received an opportunity to get valuable feedback from the Macy’s team and added a critical component she wasn’t even aware she needed. She was presented with an opportunity to co-sponsor a national college initiative which means lots of free publicity and sees her partnered with an established Macy’s vendor. She may not be following through from where she originally started but she’s setting up a reel worthy swish (play on words intended).
On my journey to a more Power-Full me, I will be following through on finishing my presentation.
In the meantime, please check out Shana and Todd who are doing good work showing others how to work for good.
And treat yourself or that special Power Mama (or Power Mama-in-training) to a piece from Toni Grant’s Haus of Swag because the journey requires you to look your best!
My good friend’s husband, whom I love dearly, was recently in a freak accident which left him temporarily paralyzed. They live across the street from a park and they were outside sledding, making the most of a recent snow day. At the bottom of a really cool hill, there is a fence sledders use as a brake. My friend’s husband, aka “Mr. Safety”, was being extra cautious and using both himself and the fence to slow his daughter and wife down as they came caroming down the hill. The next half hour flashed by in a series of moments: They stopped. He fell. They laughed. He told her he couldn’t move. She tried to lift his right arm. He couldn’t breathe laying face down in the snow. She used his hat to brush the snow away from his mouth. Their son knelt at his side. Their daughter began to cry. A crowd gathered. Someone called 911. The day after this happened, another friend and I received a very detailed email recounting the whole ordeal, which prompted us into action. She ordered dinner to take over, I went to Facebook to organize our larger circle of friends. I didn’t think she would be too thrilled knowing that I had asked for “love offerings”. And she wasn’t. What she actually said was “I’m not too sure how I feel; I don’t receive well. My response was she didn’t have to receive well, she only had to accept graciously. And that she could do because she is the most gracious person I know.