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Take twenty

Twenty minutes to pause.

Twenty minutes to breathe.

To be grateful.

To write.

To read.

To consume.

To move.

To reflect.

To listen.

To work.

To grieve.

To focus.

To savor.

To feel.

To love.

To connect.

To watch.

To rest.

Twenty minutes can make the unmanageable manageable, the forgotten remembered, and the overwhelming more digestible.

You can do anything for twenty minutes. Use it as your weapon.

Takeaways from two weeks of “Positive Talk”

14 people from around the world signed up to join me in a small experiment: For two weeks, I would commit to daily discussions focused on Good Things.

I spoke with Italians, Brits, folks in the United States, Sweden, and Nepal. On some days I had to talk myself up for the session; other days I looked forward to thirty minutes of positivity.

At the beginning of each call, I asked participants to rank themselves on a scale of 0 to 10 (0 for on-the-floor depression and 10 for something close to contagious joy). At the end of our call, I asked for another self-ranking. 12 out of the 14 participants reported an increase in positive feelings. The other two reported no change, having already reported high levels of feeling. I, too, found myself feeling better at the end of the calls.

But beyond feeling better, I felt seen. Those thirty minutes became a plug-in of support, encouragement, and connection. Many participants echoed battles with imposter syndrome“Am I good enough, capable enough, strong enough, ready enough, productive enough, gentle enough, prepared enough?” Time management was another expressed hurdle, but it was rephrased as a goal that could be conquered.

And in all of these calls, it became clear that even when the world seems upside down, we have the ability to write our own narratives. We have the choice to fall into old, self-sabotaging coping strategies or tap into traits that can set us up for something greater. We can choose to see ourselves through a compassionate lens, or we can cling to memories that no longer apply. Our stories can become ones of curiosity and growth.

There’s no telling when or if things will return to “normal.” This experiment, however, reminded me there are many things still in our control. We can make time to connect, and we can train our minds to focus on creation, empathy, and compassion — for ourselves and for others. I’m thankful to all those who participated in this experiment with me.

Try for yourself: Set a calendar of participants (ask friends, family, and colleagues), keep a journal of notes, and record pre- and post- rankings for each call. Let me know how it goes.

Behind the scenes

Most people don’t see the hours of practice, the nights of silence, the thinking, the planning, the frustrations, the worrying, the sacrifice.

They see only a snapshot: A product, a final cut, a performance, the last edit.

True artists know that the work is rarely finished. It’s back to the drawing board. More nights at the desk, more late hours in the office, more emails and meetings and calls.

True artists won’t let someone else’s snapshot alter their own value or vision. These artists will continue to quietly strive, working to perfect their art and their craft. They know there may never be an end, but they are grateful to have summoned enough courage to pursue their own unique path.

Selling and cold calls

Call 1: The worst.
Call 5: Still pretty bad.
Call 10: You care less if someone says no.
Call 12: Someone might be interested.
Call 15: You make a sale.
Call 16: You make another sale.
Call 17: You feel pretty great until someone else says no.
Call 18: You feel bad but make another call anyway.
Call 22: The person asks you to call back next week.
Call 24: Sale.
Call 25: You begin to realize the yes/no/maybe answers have nothing to do with you.
Call 30: Your pitch is better. You can clearly talk about the benefits your product/service provides.
Call 35: If someone says no, it doesn’t ruin your day.
Call 37: Sale.
Call 40: When someone says no, you refine your pitch.
Call 48: Sale.
Call 50: When someone says no, you recognize that person wasn’t the right fit for your product/service.
Call 52: Sale.
Call 53: Sale.
Call 54: The no response is no longer a Big Deal, and you keep going.
Call 55: Sale.
Call 56: Maybe. Appointment set.
Call 57: Sale.
Call 58: Sale.

The first calls are always the hardest. Keep going.