Topic: "Surprise and Delight"

For Your Interest – April 2014


Hi,  there ~

I have the privilege of talking with all sorts of people across the US, and beyond, and one thing I continually notice is how much people could benefit from letting a little more "Surprise and Delight" into their lives. Oh, they all say they get plenty of surprises, but the delight part often eludes them.

One of the reasons, perhaps, is that people unintentionally create walls that prevent delight from getting in. These walls are founded on one's self-limiting beliefs and come with ready-made phrases, such as "I'm just not good enough, "I'm my harshest critic," "I'm my own worst enemy," and the like.

Being one's own worst enemy naturally leads people to sell themselves short – in two distinct ways:  
  1. People recognize THAT they sell themselves short – but do it anyway.
    Oh, they may WANT to do things differently. They may even try to do things differently – and often do...for a while, anyway. But, in time, they ultimately revert back to their old ways. Why? Because they just can't seem to get past the gravitational pull of self-limiting beliefs and negative self-talk. As Psycho-Cybernetics founder Maxwell Maltz put it, "Self-image sets the boundaries of individual accomplishment." In other words, when we give our self-limiting self-talk the opportunity to justify why it's perfectly okay to NOT stick with a newly-forming habit, it gladly, and compellingly, will.  
  2. People DON'T THINK they are selling themselves short – but do it anyway
    For these people, the phrase is "it's not my fault," and variations thereof. Instead of taking responsibility for their role in whatever situation they find themselves in, they take comfort in believing that they're doing everything right – it's just circumstances that are to blame...or those persons, over there. While shifting the focus away from themselves, this way, may provide comfort, it's a false comfort because dodging blame is a guaranteed way to sell yourself short. (Sidebar – Here's an enlightening little exercise: The next time you find yourself judging someone about something, stop and consider how (not if, but how) that judgment applies equally, if not more so, to yourself. Stay with it until you find the connection because if you do, you will.)  

Surprise and Delight, and NOT Selling Yourself Short

Now some of you might be saying, "Hey, I don't sell myself short and I don't judge." If so, congratulations! But know that just because you say you don't doesn't really mean you don't – sorry, no offense! And it certainly doesn't mean that there's not still room for improvement.

So here are four straightforward ways to ease off the self-criticism jag and get back to your Best Self:
  • Develop the Habit of Enthusiasm – I'm not talking about going over the top, but the Habit of Enthusiasm is one of the most important skills you can develop to enable both your personal and professional success. Why? Because it's impossible to sell yourself short when you're being enthusiastic. Think about it: Enthusiasm is the flip-side of self-limiting thinking – the two cannot be present at the same time. Enthusiasm is light, bright, engaging, and fun. Self-limiting thinking is not. Enthusiasm loves "Surprise and Delight" – it CRAVES "Surprise and Delight." Self-limiting thinking does not. "The secret of genius," said Aldous Huxley, "is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which mean never losing your enthusiasm." Indeed.
  • Befriend Your Gremlin – This may seem odd, given that your gremlin (the narrator in your head) tends to be the one saying those negative things, but we all have friends and acquaintances who say things we don't agree with, right? So it's like that. Just because your gremlin has opinions doesn't mean you have to accept them as your own. Your gremlin isn't you and your gremlin isn't "bad" – it's just a voice that only knows how to speak in "Devil's Advocate" terms. Know that. Accept that. Your gremlin is really just trying to help keep you safe – trying its very best, actually – but doing it all wrong. Why? Because it just doesn't know any other way. So tell it this: "Thank you, gremlin, but I've got this one under control. Let me take charge on this one." That simple, kind, message back to your gremlin is often enough to silence it for a while. (Personally, I then like to give my gremlin an assignment to put its already-primed "nay-say-erism" to productive use. "Gremlin?" I'll say, "You know that thing I'm working on? Go take a good look at it and report back on what I parts need more attention." Works every time!)
  • Create Some "Surprise and Delight" for Others – Mary Anne Radmacher says it this way: “As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way.” So here's a littlest-things-go-the-longest-way exercise: Take the 10-15 seconds it takes (!!) and give someone a reason to smile; help ease their load; see if you can get them to laugh; or just be that extra-pleasant version of yourself with them for a moment. You'll know you've succeeded when you see them suddenly seem that much more alive. Let their delight delight you. 
  • Invite "Surprise and Delight" to Find You – Yes, "the difference between something good and something great is attention to detail." So said Charles R. Swindoll and often the nicest surprises and greatest delight really are found in the smallest of things. So go. Seek. And let those little things find you. You know how when you're looking to buy a car and the particular make and model you want starts showing up everywhere?! It's like that. You know how when you first look up at the night sky you can only see a few stars, but the longer you look the more you see?! It's like that, too. You know how when you eat all your drive-thru french fries and think they're all gone, but then look in the bag and see a few more?! (Hmm, love those "bag fries!") Well, it's like that. "Surprise and Delight" is out there – it just needs to know you're interested. So look for it. Invite it in. Consider what would make it easier for it to find you, and do that. Do that several times, in fact. Every day. 
I'm not being a Pollyanna here – I'm not saying that trying to bring more "Surprise and Delight" into your life is a panacea. But it is an excellent step in the right direction. And a habit well-worth forming, notwithstanding the gremlin's concerns, rationalizations, and justifications.

Don't believe me? Give it a try and see for yourself. Then report back with what you've found.


Don't forget to visit my blog at to see the new posts I've added recently. Maybe one of them will inspire you to greater things before you get my next newsletter.

Here's wishing you a fabulous month!

- bz
Barry Zweibel | 847-291-9735
LeadershipTraction® |

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