What Feels Like the End is Often the Beginning – The Kindness Effect

Show Notes

Speaker 1: Hi. Welcome back to CEO-ish. I’m Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets. If you were with us last time, you know that I told the story of how a good friend of mine was reading the book, The Kindness Effect, to her family. She told me about it and I said, “Well, I’ll […]
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Audio Transcription

Speaker 1:
Hi. Welcome back to CEO-ish. I’m Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets. If you were with us last time, you know that I told the story of how a good friend of mine was reading the book, The Kindness Effect, to her family. She told me about it and I said, “Well, I’ll read a chapter and send you the audio file.” So I read chapter 11 and then when it was time for their family to come around in the evening and read this book together, it was like they were listening to a book on tape. And I loved that so much because I didn’t always stick to the script and I don’t like sticking to the script.

Speaker 1:
I thought, “I’ll just read a chapter a day during this time that the world is upside down and it will be like you get to listen to a book on tape, but tape-ish. Book-ish on tape-ish. So we’re on chapter one. Last week, I read the introduction so here’s chapter one.

Speaker 1:
What feels like the end is often the beginning. I believed I was meant to be a gymnast. From the age of nine, going for the gold medal was always in the forefront of my mind. Nadia Comaneci and Olga Korbut kept the dream alive by smiling at me from the bedroom wall, from my bedroom wall. I believed there would someday be a big poster of me hanging on my wall next to theirs, and the three of us would be exchanging triumphant smiles.

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My training schedule was rigorous. You’d find me practicing at the gym four afternoons a week after school, in addition to countless hours spent practicing outside of the gym. I’d practice my round-offs in school hallways when no one was looking, which is really odd because I had to wear dresses to school, so how was I? I think I wore shorts under my skirt, as well, because that would just been really inappropriate. And whenever I was watching innocuous TV shows at home, you’d catch me sitting in a butterfly stretch position to help my splits.

Speaker 1:
I dreamed about winning and could almost hear the crowd roaring as I completed each gymnastic move. In my dream, I could audibly hear my heart beating, followed by great relief as I finished at the top of each event. No amount of practice, no amount of time required and no pain was too great to keep me from persevering. I was determined to complete in the Olympics. I actually was also determined to compete in the Olympics. See we’re not going to edit this. We’re just going to go with it. So I was going to complete and compete in the Olympics. Having been selected for the competitive gymnastic team after my first and only tryout solidified the idea I was on the path one step closer to my ultimate dream.

Speaker 1:
Now, as I’m reading this writing, that sounds so braggadocious when I say “after my first and only tryout.” If I had a rewrite on this, I don’t think I would put that sentence in there.

Speaker 1:
I lived, breathed and loved everything that had to do with my passion. This was true even on the most frustrating days of polishing my routines. Then came a rude awakening in the form of crushing news. I call it rude because at the time it felt plain rude. The devastating news came on the heels of a grueling practice while I was packing my gym bag. My coach, Eric, pulled me to the side. “Jill,” he said, “I’m going to level with you,” and ever the optimist that I was, I was sure he was going to promote me to the next team level.

Speaker 1:
So he went on some… I should use voices when… I should use Eric’s voice, “Jill, I’m going to level with you.” Ever the optimist, I was sure he was going to promote me to the next team level. He went on. “Someone needs to tell you the truth before you continue to spend more time and more money on something in which you have no future.”

Speaker 1:
He didn’t really have that voice, but I don’t do great impressions, so we’ll have to just stick with that for now.

Speaker 1:
Have you ever had a moment in time so life-changing that you remember your outfit and who was standing around you? In my case, I recall experiencing tunnel vision with a low hum in my head. I can still feel the raw emotions as if it were yesterday. It was 1979, a Thursday afternoon. At first, I could not hear Eric’s words. It was as if he were talking through the ever-fuzzy intercom at school.

Speaker 1:
The coach stopped and asked if I was listening. I swallowed back my tears. How do you swallow tears? What? How do you swallow tears? I swallowed back my tears? Have you ever? Really? How do you swallow tears? I don’t even know why I used that phrase. I held back my tears or I… But swallowed my tears? I swallowed back my… This you don’t get if you buy the book. This you only get on the podcast. It’s hard for me to even repeat this phrase again, but I’m going to do it one more time because I’m in such shock that I actually said, “I swallowed back my tears.” I hope that starts trending on Twitter. Swallow tears. I swallowed back my tears and nodded yes. Now I don’t even remember the question. Oh, he asked if I were listening.

Speaker 1:
He went on to say, “You simply do not have what it takes to make it to a higher level team. Your flexibility and techniques have recently plateaued, and I just haven’t seen the type of improvement I need to see at this stage.”

Speaker 1:
Now as a nine year old, did I really know what plateaued meant? That was a side note.

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“I do not see the possibility of the necessary improvement at this point.” He ended our chat with a pat on my back, a smile and a suggestion. “Consider excelling in another activity that may help when applying for college scholarship down the road. It’s never too soon to think about that.”

Speaker 1:
Ouch. That’s a side note. Ouch. I should have changed Eric’s name in this book because he might read this someday and well, he’ll be sorry.

Speaker 1:
College? I was stunned when he used the word college. I was going straight to the Olympics. My mind was racing. I knew all of this was just a big misunderstanding. My thoughts were, “Okay, so technique and flexibility are my weak points. Aren’t there flexible vitamins I can take to help? That seemed logical. Or maybe he really meant to have this conversation with Julie. He probably mixed us up because we both had short hair and our names started with a J. And no future, he said? Did I hear him correctly? Wait just a minute, Eric. There is no way you are squashing. My dream right here, right now.

Speaker 1:
After my heartbeat slowed down and the tunnel vision cleared and I swallowed my tears yet again. I actually put that part in there because I can’t get enough of the swallow tears. I understood. Eric was thinking of me, not Julie.

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I tried to digest what he had just said. And again, how do you digest words? It felt as if I’d received a punch in the stomach. I left the gym that day thinking this man had crushed my dreams. It took a while for me to get over the initial heartbreak and to accept the kindly given truth. I was not meant to be an Olympic gymnast.

Speaker 1:
I resolved that if I could not be an Olympian, then I would attempt to do something different, something new, something exciting, every single year. Each January, my plan was to choose a novel activity to fully engage in for the next 12 months. I promised myself I would jump into my new hobbyhorse and ride it for all it’s worth, and never jump off to ask myself, “What if I fail?”

Speaker 1:
I don’t think other than this book that I’ve ever used the word hobbyhorse. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anybody use the word hobbyhorse. My mom did help me edit some of these words and I bet this is Judy Reamer’s… It’s got her scent all over it. Hobby horse.

Speaker 1:
Though each new passion might not turn out to be my life’s calling, at least I would give it a chance. Most likely no awards would come my way. In addition, my interest in the hobby could possibly wane by year’s end, but during that year I would commit to giving it my all to the one new venture. I figured if I kept this plan going until age 40, there’d be 30 new skills in my life’s portfolio. Yes, I did the math.

Speaker 1:
The idea of owning a new talent each year was heartening and fun for my almost 10-year-old mind. Jill of all trades. This was my new dream. So that is the end of chapter one, and we will pick it up tomorrow on chapter two.

Speaker 1:
I do want to say one little note about chapter one. I did know when I was a young girl that all adults would always say that they had to go to work, and that’s why I loved the idea of gymnastics because for me it was, “I get to go do this.” And so when Eric crushed my dreams, I was determined for the next however many years that I was going to go in search of my “get to.” And so because Eric quote, unquote crushed my dreams, it actually led me on a path to find that “get to” in the form of a hobby that I was hoping would turn into a dream or my purpose or my calling. And I’m not joking when I said starting at the age of 10, every single year for one full year, I picked a brand-new hobby.

Speaker 1:
And then at the end of the year, I had some sort of a recital to end that hobby. And I would always decide, “Is this something I want to continue to do? Is this my life’s purpose? And if not, I will move on to the next hobby.”

Speaker 1:
So whenever I speak, I always ask people in the audience, I call on certain people and I say, “What is your hobby?” And they usually say… Not usually, everybody has something different, but nine times out of 10, somewhere in the last 40 years, that has been my hobby for 365 days. It has brought so much joy to me.

Speaker 1:
I do tell some more of these quests that I have in the book, but I just wanted to say that the very first hobby that I ever chose at 10 years old, because nobody else was doing it, I thought that I would learn a foreign language of Russian that year. The entire year I dedicated myself at 10 years old to learning Russian, which is just an odd thing for a 10-year-old to do, but nobody else was doing it. My great-great-grandparents were from Russia, and so I did that for one full year. I learned Russian.

Speaker 1:
Every single hobby that I have done for the last 40 years has somehow come into play into what I get to do today, including speaking Russian. I just wanted to share that story, that even if you are in the middle of your “get to,” it is still fun to pick one new hobby because life on this earth will not last forever, and why not try so many different things that are available to you to try.

Speaker 1:
Even though Eric thought he crushed my dream, it actually led me down the path of something much greater than had I just stayed focused on being a gymnast my whole life. So indeed, what felt like the end was truly just the beginning. Thank you so much. We will see you next time on CEO-ish.