Give yourself a big fat A

I have the biggest crush dear reader. A magical, wonderous, exhilirating love-on where I can't be away from the object of my affection for very long or I might.... Just. Burst.

My new squeeze is a book! 

Do you ever fall headlong into one of these, your nose buried in the pages--or glued to the fingerprinted and peanut butter cup-smeared screen of your tablet (feel free to insert any other delicious food particle)? So much so that even when you're not reading it, you're thinking about all the juicy ideas and impressions that are feeding your mind. Your heart. Well, it happens to me fairly often. In fact you may even call me a serial reader. Yet this one is realllllly the best (I know I say that about all of them...).

I've been reading The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander and it's making me realize how much of what I believe about my life is made up. Yes, I'm living a big fat lie. Well, maybe that's a bit harsh, though when I think about how many stories I've carried around inside me practically since I was an infant crawling around on the kitchen floor (Bright yellow and green linoleum; the wrong kind of retro.) with the assumption that ALL of them are true, well, it makes my head hurt.

This is how it goes down: our senses bring us selective information about the world; the brain constructs a simulation of the sensation; and then we have our first conscious experience of our surroundings.


The world comes into our consciousness in the form of a map already drawn, a story already told, a hypothesis, a construction of our own making. -Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander


Yet the good news is that, if we come equipped with a map aleady laid out, then we can also hack the whatsits out of that map and create something more in keeping with where we want to go.

Co-author Benjamin Zander is conductor for the Boston Philharmonic and he has this thing he does where he gives all his music students an A on the first day of class and says they can keep their grade as long as they write him a letter dated for when the course ends. In the letter students write who they'll have become by the following May. The letter starts, "Dear Mr. Zander I got my A because...." Says the author, "They write about who they would be, who they could be if only that damn voice would stop telling them they can't do it."

I know just what he means. Sometimes my "damn voice" is so loud that it drowns out what I know in my heart I should be doing. If I'm not careful it can hijack my day! My life.

I'm completely on board with this idea of giving an A in the classroom as I remember how hard I was on myself in school if I didn't get the first letter in the alphabet. I'd constantly compare and measure myself to other students and become caught up in worrying about my grades. That would shoot to hell anything I was learning. 

As adults we continue this practice of comparing ourselves to others. Boy do we ever! We wonder why a woman with three kids can manage so much, when we feel like we can barely rustle up supper in the evenings for one. Or we work tirelessly on our businesses and see the competition rising while we feel like we're floundering. We begin to forget our why. We forget ourselves.

So I challenge you dear reader to give yourself an A. Write out a big colourful A on a piece of paper. Make it pretty and nice so you don't forget it.

Then write yourself a letter. Write where you see yourself in one year keeping in mind that you've given yourself a top mark! To help you out, I'm including below a letter that I wrote to myself on May 7. 


Dear Lissa,

I got my A because I explored my fears around writing whatever my fancy or the Universe told me to write, even if I thought nobody was interested in reading it. Gone is my fear of not being accepted or of being called out as an 'imposter.' I realize now that I must follow my calling no matter what hurdles stand in the way.

I now know that I want to use my passion and my gifts to inspire others to step up, hear the voices, and to do it anyway. 

I realize that my fears aren't as strong as the will to express myself and to connect with others. 

All my love, Lissa


To write this letter I had to dig deep and really think about what I would give myself an A for. While doing this I had the mind-blowing realization that I wasn't going to give myself an A for the accolades I imagined I'd receive when I wrote my New York Times bestseller, or the standing ovation after a speech I delivered. No, the A was for the courage I mustered to explore my fears, to push past the worry and anxious thoughts, and do what I knew I was meant to do in this life.

Shit, that's worth an A, no?

So, let me ask you dear reader: what would you give yourself an A for?