021 Sometimes, the Grass IS Greener
Updated: Dec 13, 2020
How a Familiar Bit of Conventional Wisdom Could be Holding You Back from the Life You Were Made to Live
“The grass is always greener on the other side." So, don't fool yourself into thinking there's anything better out there for you. Right? Welllll…
A lot of conventional wisdom--for all of its potential value--has very real limits and misuses. Are you falling prey to the limits and misuses of this particular bit of conventional wisdom? And paying a high price in fulfillment, purpose, and impact as a result?
In this episode, I bring in my favorite person in the world--my wife, Charis--to unpack how the past eight years of our life have shown us how sometimes, the grass really is greener on the other side. And what it takes to KEEP it green.
Does greener grass await you? This episode will help you figure out your answer to that important question.
Introducing the One, the Only--My Wife--Charis Petty
Charis Petty is one heck of a woman. She's fiercely loyal to those she loves. She's outrageously thoughtful and generous. She's a creative and passionate gift-giver who genuinely enjoys making the lives of those around better and brighter. She's an attentive, fun, and courageous mother of our two boys. She's a gifted real estate professional, and she's got a rocket engine for a brain. She’s REALLY wise. In fact, she's my favorite coach. She hits me between the eyes regularly with exactly what I need to hear. I've learned to defer to her far superior engineering abilities, and her situational awareness is astounding to me (who, admittedly, lacks it almost entirely, sometimes).
And thank goodness, this woman is my wife, my lifelong partner-in-crime, the woman with whom I've created a family and embarked on a journey of becoming the people we were made to be and living the lives we were made to live.
Oh, and did I mention that, in addition to everything I've already said about her, she's smokin' hot?? Lucky, lucky me.
The Lies Behind the Truth
I think there’s a fair amount of useful truth in most bits of conventional wisdom. “Bloom where you’re planted.” “Wherever you go, there you are.” “A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.” And so on. Those time-honored adages have real value in some situations.
But in my opinion, and in our family’s experience over the past eight years, we can fall prey to the lies behind the truth, so to speak, if we aren’t able to see and push past the unnecessarily confining limits of these adages.
For example, we can believe that just because it can be good to “bloom where you’re planted,” it’s therefore never good to plant yourself elsewhere. Or that just because “wherever I go, there I am,” it’s never a good idea to take myself somewhere else. Or just because “a bird in hand CAN be worth two in the bush,” it’s never wise to go for the two in the bush. It’s these lies that lurk behind the truths inherent in these adages that can keep us from pushing forward into a more fuller expression and experience of the life we were made to live.
“If Things are Still This Way Five Years from Now…”
About eight years ago, it had become abundantly clear that no amount of toil, perseverance, or grit was going to yield “green grass” for me and my family in the “yard” we were tending. I had done everything I knew to do to adapt myself to the yard--to become the kind of groundskeeper, so to speak, that could coax green grass out of that soil. I’d picked up and tried every tool I could think of to do my part. We were genuinely thankful for the life that we did have. And still, it was painfully obvious that the grass was barely sprouting, much less displaying any shade of green.
Sometimes, toil over time produces good things in a person. For me though, that effort over the course of almost 14 years with very little green grass to show for it--in the ways that were most important to us--was breaking me down, not making me better and stronger.
In the full episode, Charis shares what evidence she saw in me that supported this conclusion and other indicators, too. Suffice it to say, I was LESS of the man she married after years of trying to bloom where we were planted. And it was becoming unpleasant enough for our family that eventually she acknowledged to herself that if things were still this way in five years, “we” were going to have a big problem.
It was during this time that adages like “the grass is always greener” and “bloom where you’re planted” haunted me. If that conventional wisdom was so full of real wisdom, then why was I so miserable?
We Found Greener Grass. So Can You.
Thankfully, we found a new way forward before that looming five-year mark! Eventually, with Charis’ support, the support of my first-ever coach, and the discovery that courage is a choice, I began giving myself permission to acknowledge that where we were planted was never going to produce green grass for us. We needed a change.
Ep. 003, How to Become the Boss of Your Fear: Bravery-building to Live With More Guts and Gusto, tells more of that story and the single defining moment that kicked us out of the yard we were in to search for greener grass.
And guess what? We found it.
And so can you.
With this one caveat. You too can find greener grass...if, in fact, greener grass awaits and you’re not simply trying to escape the discomfort of tending the soil and doing the work to produce greener grass right where you are. Because sometimes, remember, the old adage is right-on, and we can succumb to the lie that if I just had the yard next door, all would be well. Then you move into that yard, and guess what--the next yard over looks just a bit better than yours. And so on. That’s a recipe for chronic dissatisfaction, instability, and making only a fraction of your potential contribution in the world.
I don’t think there’s really such a thing as a “geographic fix” or a “job fix” or any other “fix” we might pursue as a silver bullet for the discomforts and challenges of life. This is what the common understanding of “the grass is always greener” warns us against seeking. But I DO think, in many cases, there are such things as significant geographic “improvements” or job “improvements.”
In our case, greener grass really did await. And it’s been a BIG improvement.
Now the Grass Stays Effortlessly Green and Lush! Uhhh...
Wouldn’t that be nice? Ain’t so. In the full episode, Charis and I unpack just how hard it has been to keep our new grass green. In fact, there are ways in which we’ve worked harder and been pushed to greater extremes in this new patch of grass than ever before. Some of our scariest moments as a family have happened in this new yard.
This is one way in which the common usage of the old adage again proves true--namely, that green grass doesn’t just magically appear and stay green.
But we have never--not for one nano-second--looked back with regret that we came in search of this greener grass. Because in this soil, our toil actually produces green grass.
And, we’ve found, green grass yields more green grass. Both my and Charis’ professional lives have blossomed. We are both making a bigger difference in the world in ways that are clear and measurable and immensely rewarding. We’ve both found untapped potential within ourselves, learned to tolerate failure better, and become more willing to take risks. Our boys are thriving. Every day is a battle of one sort or another. But it’s a battle we’re glad to fight because we see day by day it's advancing us further into the lives we were uniquely made to live.
As we’ve walked farther and farther out on the proverbial limb, step by scary step, we’ve found that the limb holds.
Ha. I’ll stop there on that point--before I mix in too many other metaphors!
So Was the Old Yard a Waste of 14 Years?
Quite the opposite. I learned SO much in that period. The pressures from within and without provided the heat necessary to teach me some critical lessons about myself, life, and the way the world works. Absolutely invaluable lessons. I share a couple of those in the full episode.
It’s another example of how our Story and our Purpose are inseparable.
I don’t know that we’d be in the green grass we now enjoy--personally and professionally--if we hadn’t first tried to produce green grass in our old yard.
But What About You? How’s Your Grass?
If this episode is speaking to you--if something in you is stirring because you know deep down that there is greener grass for you--then Seize. This. Moment. Do SOMETHING today--even just one thing--that will get you moving in the direction of that greener grass. It’s not just for your benefit, BTW, as important as that is.
When you move courageously toward your greener grass, you begin a transformation from one version of you to an even fuller expression of the person you were made to be. And that’s good for EVERYONE.
Cultivate Your Greener Grass More Quickly, Together
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