The high cost of dodging what is

by | Feb 25, 2006

In her ezine, Sound Bites, Isabel Parlett takes on one of the scariest questions any independent small business person can ask, “What my [clients or customers say] they want isn’t what I offer! How can I succeed if I am not matching my audience?” What I love most about Isabel’s take on this is that she doesn’t duck the issue:

And there is a hard truth here. If you are offering something out-of-the-ordinary, you will run into this challenge again and again. You may face these fears and doubts over and over. If you are bringing to the mass consciousness something that hasn’t been there before, you can’t match what they already know they want and need.

I’m into hard truths these days. You might even say I have a bias toward hard truths. That’s because I’m keenly aware of how much time and energy and attention (yes, and money) I’ve thrown down the rathole in the service of ducking reality. From buying pants that don’t quite fit to trying to appeal to someone who isn’t a good fit to rushing through life out of fear that I’ll miss something — I have a black belt in dodging what is right in front of me.
[Embarrassing story: I had my hair colored some years back, and when a coworker commented on it, I denied that anything had changed. I told you I had a black belt in dodging what is.]
Not everyone is such an artful (or artless?) dodger, and if you happen to be blessed with a native appetite for truth and transparency, all I can say is, Wow. That’s great.” (The Charming Prince is such a person. It used to irritate the hell out of me, but I’m much better now.)
Given my propensity for fairy tales and magical thinking, it’s a wonder that I’ve turned tail and embraced truth. That is, it’s a wonder until you tally up the costs of dodging. For I’ve come to know that when I engage a phantom reality in preference to the one I inhabit, I invariably lose the thread of who I am and what I am up to.

The Way It Is
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
–William Stafford

Back to Isabel. It is precisely because she takes on a hard truth that she can offer a solution. The thread the winds from where we are to where we want to be must travel through hard truths or we will never experience arrival. Something in us refuses to be fooled, and that something will deny us the joy of true connection and accomplishment if we’ve allowed fear to shape our imaginings.
Here’s how Isabel ends her article. You’ll have to subscribe to her ezine to see how she gets from her hard truth to this inspired quote. (I’m not trying to make it difficult for you, and I think the least Isabel deserves for this good work is a visit to her Web site.)

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
–Howard Thurman