Shock ’em

Last week I found this quote on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Instagram feed:

“Make it happen. Shock every single one of them.”

Think about it. What if we went through our day and thought how am I going to shock someone today? Much of the time we try to just make it through the day, but what if we raised the bar and made things happen? What if we went into each meeting or presentation and were completely focused and wowed folks because we pulled it off? What if we did the impossible? Or maybe it is not even impossible — maybe it is just something that left a wow factor. It could be the smallest, slightest moment that left a mark and was remembered.

The funny thing is the moments that are remembered are often the ones that are actually easy and often free to pull off. You might have made an effort to actually listen and remember key details from someone’s life. You asked about it the next time you see that individual. So easy, and just requires pure listening, and yet it has such an impact. I always notice when someone has taken the time to get to know me and then later (sometimes even months later) remembers a piece of our conversation. I try to do the same to others, but it is hard when you go from meeting to meeting all day. And yet, doing so shows true connection, relationship building, and care.

I am a get-it-done woman. I rarely let anything stand in my way. As Chris would say to me, “There is no changing your mind when you have made a decision you are going to do something.” He is right. I like to approach life with conviction, persistence, and, as I often say, by sucking the life out of each day. I want to bring that same zeal when shocking and wowing others. Think of all the times you have been wowed by amazing customer service, by friends and family who surprise you, or a stranger that does a random act of kindness. The key ingredient: someone showing you they care.

Shock the hell out of them.

Surprise tactics

How often in life are you surprised? Once a month? Once a day? Do people easily shock you? There is a little part of each of us that loves to be shocked and in awe. Whether it is our husband that is capable of keeping a secret, our closest friend, or sister — not having a clue something is going to happen can sometimes be an amazing thing.

I have the hardest time keeping a secret from Chris (that should be a good thing). We talk about everything, and sometimes it is hard to keep my excitement inside or hidden from him. I am crazy transparent so he can probably pick up on the fact that I am hiding something. Take for example his 30th birthday. I wanted to surprise him and take him to San Francisco for a week. I could not keep it inside and I wanted to plan the trip with him and let him research a bit of what he might want to do. A week before we were to leave I decided to tell him — I could not resist! I wrapped a box of Rice-a-Roni (you know “A San Francisco treat.”) and my secret was finally out.

Somehow though Chris loves giving me the element of surprise and he enjoys the shock value it leaves. He can easily plan things and not tell me because he knows timing can be the perfect way to surprise someone, especially me. He is good. What if the many companies we are patrons of shocked and surprised us? Many companies do not even come close, so the smallest detail could result in a surprised and happy customer. How often are you surprised by a company? It is nice when it happens. It makes the experience more memorable.

I am going to hone my surprise tactics. Just you wait, Chris. Just you wait.

Surprisologist.

A surprisologist. I like it. I am probably the worst person to be called a surprisologist. One year for Chris’ birthday I planned a trip to San Francisco. As it got closer to the trip I could not contain the surprise, I just had to tell him. Partly I wanted him to be able to get excited by our trip and start to think about whether there were any special places he might want to go, and partly I just could not contain my surprise any longer. How did I break the news to him? I told him I wanted him to open a birthday gift early, and I wrapped a box of Rice-a-Roni “a San Francisco treat” and asked if he could guess his gift. I no longer remember his face or response, but let me just let you know the moral is I am not good with surprises.

I recently read a Ted blog about a woman (Tania Luna) who is a surprisologist. She has started a company called Surprise Industries and well let’s just say she has me curious. One of the things she lists in the TED blog is how we always surround ourselves with what is comfortable, with people we know, and that we rarely break outside of our comfort zone and find ways to meet new people (and well get excited about it).

What could you do that would add a little surprise to your life? Maybe it is a little thing to surprise your spouse or kids once in a while, or maybe it is adding flavor to how you engage with others. Take that belly dancing class, hip hop, or heck, go country line dancing. In this quote from the article, Luna tells us that surprises can teach us to grow and reach:

“Few people follow their dreams or take positive risks — not because it’s difficult or even scary, but because we avoid that sensation of uncertainty that we call awkwardness. Learn to love it. Remind yourself that discomfort means you are growing AND reaching someplace special that few people dare to go. Try a hobby that looks awful. Talk to a stranger.”

I would lose count of the number of people who avoid awkwardness. Who likes feeling awkward? However, feeling awkward could lead to feeling brave. Feeling brave can lead you to feeling badass. Who does not want to feel badass? I am not saying you have to go pet snakes if they freak you out. Maybe just go introduce yourself to a stranger at your next charity function or company picnic. I know I have work to do. Whether or not I can keep a surprise inside, I could definitely add some flavor to the surprise I bring to my world. What about you?