The other day we had the TV on one of those music channels–you know where it plays music and gives you “fun facts” about the artist?
Train’s new song was on (I don’t know what it’s called, “Play That Song”?), and the “fun fact” was that one of the band members felt the key to the band’s success was that they all share the exact same goals.
I’ll be honest, I thought this was a pretty boring “fun fact,” i.e., not especially fun, and in the moment I heard it, I didn’t think it was especially insightful either.
But then, recently, when I thought of how I feel about this group — and what I, personally, think is missing — that otherwise banal “fun fact” came to mind.
First let me say that I so appreciate this group, I’m so happy it exists, I’m proud to have been a part of how it started it and even prouder to be able to step away and watch it run itself (although admittedly Naomi, Hadar and other consistent, active participants still form, I think, the “core” of the group that keeps it running so well). I also miss you all (a lot). Even being chin-deep in baby, I couldn’t help but read the blog. I wanted to know how everyone was doing, hear your “voices,” etc. Also, I will be in Cycle 10, and am really excited to about it. Don’t take what I’m about to say to mean that I don’t want to be a part of the group or don’t believe in it.
Okay, onto the point of this post.
I do not think I share the same goals as many of those in PSPLife, and it makes me feel like something is lacking.
In LP (three years ago for me now), I drew a line in the sand right before Third Weekend.
Now, I used to be someone who never finished anything that I struggled with (if I did well, I could finish with flying colors). I’d start somewhat strong and inspired, then once I faced a struggle I couldn’t ace my performance would wane (and I’d feel really ashamed about this), then I’d drop off or drop out entirely, professing to everyone how the whole thing was stupid and didn’t fit me and was a waste of time.
In LP, I felt that my performance was abysmal (it wasn’t, I just felt that way; the truth is I laid the foundation for my marriage and family during those three months and that’s no small thing). Because I felt that way, I was going to ditch Third Weekend. I was going to just not show up, send an email to the group the day of (I wrote it out and still have it in my email drafts), and leave the work behind. I honestly couldn’t take being faced with the fact that I had “failed” LP.
Well, it didn’t happen that way. I never sent that email. Instead, I did what the work teaches you to do: I shifted, 100%. Yes, this was the last weekend of the program, but there was still life AFTER the program, and didn’t that matter more? And there was still this last weekend, where I could be who I wish I’d been the prior three months. This was the opportunity, this moment, to have everything change. So I dove in. I decided Third Weekend was not an end, but a beginning. I decided from that moment forward, I would live differently; that this wasn’t just a three-month program. It was a new way of life.
Fast forward to a few months later. When we sat around Hadar and Naomi’s living room at the very first meeting for PSPLife, this was the story I told (some version of it; I actually don’t think I’ve ever told anyone how close I was to ditching Third Weekend). I told that story in response to the question: “why are you here?” and “what’s your vision for the group?”
I told that story, and I talked about my relentless commitment to continue the work and live differently from that moment on. I talked about the results I had already gotten on my own as a result of that commitment, and how I would love to have the support of, and get to play with, like-minded people. I would love to have the added motivation and camaraderie of all of us being out there on our respective skinny branches, hearts racing and cheering each other on from our neighboring trees (I took the analogy too far, I know). I remember almost everyone expressing a similar desire at that meeting.
Okay, fast forward to Cycle 8. We sat around Emily’s living room and answered the question “why are you here?” Several people gave only this reason: “I love the people, I love the community. I want to stay connected.”
And I felt disappointed.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the people and community too, but — if at that first meeting, PSPLife had been described as a social group, or even a support group, I probably would’ve said “see ya.”
My reason for being in this group is not to expand my friend group, or be part of a community, or even to get support when I’m struggling. Those are truly wonderful byproducts. My reason for being in this group is to keep the commitment I made to myself before Third Weekend.
So, a couple days ago, I read Hadar’s blog entry about Cycle 9 and felt a little sad. How I “heard” it was that he was feeling disappointed that several people held back during Cycle 9. They didn’t share consistently (whether winning or losing)–but he would take whatever he could get.
That made me think about how we often don’t realize what we contribute to people just by sharing — and how not sharing and holding back takes something (significant) away. Even (especially?) if you’re struggling, you have no idea how valuable that could be to someone in the moment you could have shared it (but didn’t).
Example: there was a woman in Cycle 9 who just had a baby. In her first few posts, she talked about what she was struggling with, and I felt like I had found a goddamn oasis in the desert. I hung on her every word. I would’ve commented on her posts but I didn’t want to creep her out, I don’t know her (my stuff). When she “disappeared” toward the end of the cycle, I was like, damnit. I needed her.
But then I should turn my scrutiny on myself. I can sit here and give feedback, but I can see how it may fall flat. I sat the cycle out and watched from afar. What could I have contributed to that new mother? I feel actually pretty shitty about my choice when I think of it that way. If I want things to be different, sitting it out is obviously not the way.
To get back to the point, though, when people fail to participate consistently (whether winning or losing in terms of their goals) — or treat this like a social group and choose goals that either don’t matter or that they have no real intention of actually accomplishing — I get a little discouraged. It’s out of alignment with my vision for the group and my vision for myself.
This is by no means everyone–many of you play hard, newbies and veterans alike. Open, vulnerable, risking, the whole bit. Sometimes you could share more, not realizing perhaps what it does for others, but I don’t doubt you’re fully in the game.
In general, though, I experience a mismatch of goals within the group and confusion in overall vision. The hard part too is I don’t know what my role is, in light of my personal vision. I can live and let be, as I have been doing. I give honest feedback on PSPs at the outset (i.e., if I feel a goal is not in the spirit of the work I’ll say so), but otherwise I let people play the game how they want. Because of the Great Resistance many have to LP, we’ve actually intentionally made the group loose enough to allow and encourage people to utilize it however, and for whatever, they choose. Even so, almost every “closing meeting” a handful of people will complain that what they wanted, and really needed, was not only an accountability structure, but someone pushing them. Someone shoving them out on that skinny branch, and calling them out when they play it safe.
If we all shared the same goal for this group, I think we could all be that for each other. We could tell each other your goal is too small, go bigger (like, tell, not suggest). We could call someone up the day after they said they were going to have a tough conversation with their boss/girlfriend/coworker and say “did you do it? You didn’t? Okay, by when will you? What do we need to work through to get you there?”
What stops me from stepping into being that person is I feel, again, people use this group for different things, and many do not see it the way I see it. When I sense that, I shrink back (and I know that part is on me, and I need support with it; it’s this quid-pro-quo attitude of well, if you’re not going to step up for me, and if you’re playing small, don’t expect me to step up for you; instead I’m going to focus on tackling my own goals and not trouble myself with the people in the group who are bullshitting their way through this or disappearing like they always do).
Also, I’ll be honest – if I fully stepped into that role, and as a result in turn let someone shove me out on the skinny branch, that scares me quite a bit. I like (very much) being in control.
Where am I going with this? I don’t totally know. I guess I wish everyone saw this group the way I do (even though my own vision for it scares me a bit), I get discouraged when I come up against the reality that many don’t, and I’m not sure how to deal with it. I guess that’s it in a nutshell.