When was your last poor decision?
Ever got the feeling of trying to fit in, instead of belonging?
Sometimes in life, I make poor decisions.
Last Thursday night, I had a lovely evening in New York City. After a great yoga class from the DeRose Method, I thought: why not spend the last evening of my trip to the U.S. in a Jazz club? I thought it would be a nice occasion, and I had not spent a night out in a long time. Furthermore, I recalled some good evenings out years back.
So, I looked on my phone, and came across the Blue Note jazz club. I recalled a conversation with a singer in an Uber back in L.A., who had recommended me that venue. I took this as a sign. That night, a renowned Jazz band Leader was playing. Well, it was sold out. I decided to go there no matter what: I could perhaps get a ticket from someone at the door or find another way to get in. I headed to the club. On the way, I saw a vegan restaurant, so I stopped to have dinner. Just upon entering that restaurant, I felt my Soul feel alive: it was perfect food for me, the Spicy Tofu Burger looked amazing (among other items on the menu), the vibe was great, the decoration was colorful, and the bartender was friendly and delivered great service. This was it. I needed nothing more. I finished my burger and headed to the club.
I asked the doorman if he had any seats left: A standing spot at the bar for 55$. I thought: “No way I am going to spend 55$ tonight.” I walked away.
A voice in my head started saying very confidently: “Go there, you will not regret it.” It got louder and louder.
I learned to listen to this voice, as often it gives good advice. Psychologist James Hillman talks about our Daemon speaking to us, in his book The Soul Code.
So, I headed back to the club, got in and paid the 55$.
What a mistake.
The Jazzman started blowing his trumpet: it was too loud, and I did not like the sound. My favorite musical moments were when he kept silent and let his band play interludes. This was incredible: you have Grammy Award winning jazzman, who toured with Sinatra and other great names when he was 22, and I was not liking it. It made me think of a radio show in France, where an oenologist explained that you did not have to taste great wine to enjoy it. Sometimes, a very modest bottle is what you will prefer. That was exactly how I felt in that moment.
At intervals, the band leader introduced some of his band members, including a young gifted Estonian pianist, making patronizing jokes about him. Some of his other jokes were about types of alcoholic drinks (I call them “jazzman jokes”): not my type of humor. It was very hard for me not to be judgmental.
People were loving this show, I felt completely off.
It would be lying to say that I did not like any of it. I loved the interludes, some improvisations, and the elegance of play of the violinist from Russia. However, going there was a very poor decision I made. This was probably the worst 55$ I spent in my trip (the car rental in L.A. was another one, but this is another story).
So, what is the point of this story?
First, acknowledging our capacity for self-deception. I am not that much into Jazz. It was a foolish idea to think that I “had” to see a Jazz club while in NYC. That is what some people would do, but not me.
This is the key distinction between fitting in versus belonging.
I can fit in a Jazz club, but I don’t belong there.
How about you?
Are they any areas of your life where you are making a lot of efforts to fit in?
Second, if I knew myself better, I would know that I would have enjoyed my evening much better by not spending that money and enjoying what I already had. Living a frugal evening would have made me feel much more whole, joyful and satisfied. It is about learning to surf a wave for a longer time instead of trying to catch the next big one. This is the essence of sustainability.
Third, this is an invitation to trust my deeper Self better, instead of listening to voices in my mind. Deep inside, I felt tired and did not really feel like extending my evening. I would have been better off returning home and resting. I somewhat believed the thought “Go outside of your Comfort Zone”, which I had been doing all day long.
One big lesson for High Performers is knowing when to Stop. Noticing that point where enough is enough, the point where the way it is going to get better than this, is when you actually stop and let go. As the minimalists say it: “Less is more”. That is when you can enjoy relaxing, the joy of being, and resting in simplicity and contentment.
Fourth, this experience seemed to me like a waste of money. Spending these 55$ brought me unsatisfaction. It is paradoxical to want to earn more, and it can be foolish, as earning more and spending more might not make one more fulfilled. Indeed, money works as an amplifier of what you already have. If you are deeply fulfilled, money can help you amplify that. However, if you do not know what makes you truly fulfilled, money will not buy that for you, just like these 55$ spent on an activity that did not bring me joy did not help me.
I take this as an invitation to spend one’s money on what one truly LOVES, not only on what one likes. This is a key distinction: liking versus Loving. I like jazz, but I do not LOVE jazz. However, I LOVE practicing yoga for example.
I like helping people, but I LOVE coaching High Performers to achieve impossible goals.
How about you, are there any activities (either personal or professional) that you only like (6/10)?
Are there any activities that you LOVE (10/10), but that you would like to cultivate more this year?