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Expand Your References, Expand Your Opportunity

Each one of us act and react based on what we have learned from our own life experiences. That is what makes us so different! Those experiences, or references, shape what we think, how we act, what we wear, what we eat, what we believe, and who we are. It is for this reason that I think it is essential for us all to be learning and growing constantly forever and ever. Amen. The more experiences we have, the more references we gain, the smarter we become, the more opportunities we give ourselves. When we both look for opportunities to learn and grow, and use every opportunity to learn and grow, we are setting ourselves up for incredible success, both personally and professionally.

This week’s column is a two-part series. I am going to explain references with a funny story this week, but come on back next week to drive it home with me! So let’s jump in. This may (will) sound completely ridiculous, but I am confident that you will get a great laugh out of this story, so we’re going to travel back in time to 2009.

 I was a young bride-to-be. My husband was away at training for the Army and my soon to be Father-in-law was in Afghanistan with the 177th Fighter Wing. I was working full time at a restaurant in Atlantic City, teaching a ton of dance classes, and planning a wedding and a move down South to Fort Campbell, KY. I had been staying at my Father-in-law’s house to watch his dog and care for his home, since my then- fiance was away at Fort Sill. Bill (my Father-in-law) had hired the kid across the street to mow the lawn. He did a decent job, but 2 days before Bill returned home from deployment, the lawn needed a fresh cut. I was too scared to go over and ask the kid to cut it (I had clear issues with confrontation at that time, obviously), but it needed to be perfect for his homecoming, so I decided I was going to do it myself.

Bill was going to come home to a mowed lawn, come hell or high water!

Now let’s discuss the important fact that I grew up with very gender specific chores. I did dishes. I set the table. I did laundry and hung it out to dry. I kept the bathrooms on point!

Here is a detailed list of chores I did NOT have to do:

1. Take out the trash. 2. Mow the lawn.

Apparently, in my young, can-do mind, I didn’t see that as an obstacle. I thought to myself, “I know plenty of people who are dumb as a doornail and they can mow a lawn. I have got this!” I set off, my pride a-blaze, darting around the shed looking for the mower. It was not in the shed. I thought and I thought. Duh! He must’ve put it in the basement, because he was gone for a year and the kid across the street has a ride on mower. Boom.

To the basement I went, searching like Christopher Colombus for a new land.

There she was, in all of her red glory. The mower.

I began pulling her toward the steps, but I became concerned that it was so heavy, How would I get it up?

A solid twenty minutes later, I was up the basement stairs and outside, just me, my aching back, and the red mower. Ready to conquer the landscape, I looked for the pulley thingy on the side, but it wasn’t where I expected it to be. I thought for a moment and then circled the mower like a hungry shark, ready to eat through a sea of slightly overgrown grass. I couldn’t figure it out. I called my husband at Fort Sill in Oklahoma.

“Just clasp the bar to the handle and then pull the cord on the side.” He said

“No there is no bar under the handle. And there’s no cord,” I said, “All I see is this gun-looking thing on the right side of it! What is the deal with this thing?”

There was silence on the end of the line. “Hello?” I asked.

“Is it red? Did you bring… the power washer up?”

I was IRATE! How could you think I would mistake a power-washer for a lawn mower?? Do you think I’m an idiot?? My soon to be groom thinks that I am as dense as…” I paused. I paused some more.

“I gotta go, I’ll call you back”, I said. As I hung up the phone, I felt like there were a million eyes on me.

So I did what every self-respecting, woman would do.

I looked for something to power wash, and then decided to run as fast as I could into the basement and get the 400 lb power washer back down, before anyone could get a glimpse of my idiocy.

To some, this hilarious story may illustrate a lack of intelligence. How could she not know that she had a giant power washer instead of a mower?? (by the way, in my defense, it did look similar to a mower, just so we’re clear.) I had no idea that I was trying to mow the lawn with a power washer, because I didn’t have the reference! I never experienced mowing a lawn before. I never started a mower, I never pushed a mower. Heck! I never even saw a lawn mower up close! I had a heart that wanted to do this thing so badly, but no references as to how to do it and do it well… until that day, when I learned a valuable lesson: get all of the information before you jump into something. Learning is power.

This is exactly the point that I want to close with. Every day, we have opportunities to learn and to grow.

Often, we become defensive and self-justifying instead of learning from our mistakes.

We also don’t want to read or engage in education, because we think we’re done learning. That’s so sad! You, Shore Local, are missing out on huge opportunities if you are in that mindset. This week I want to encourage you to use every obstacle and mistake that happens in your world, as an opportunity to learn and grow. Next week, we’re going to talk about expanding our references to be “grow-getters”, people who want to move forward in their lives and businesses and live the life of their dreams. I hope you’ll join me right back here next Friday! Until then, Shore Locals, I’m sending you peace, love, and good vibes!


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