This is the underlying question almost everyone has running in the back of their minds. Someone makes you an offer and you automatically ask it.
“What’s in it for me?”
Parents ask a variation, “What’s in it for my child, my family?”
It’s perfectly normal and most everyone does it.
So why is it a problem?
Because this question reveals a mindset of lack.
“Gimme, gimme, gimme.”
“Take, take, take.”
It’s the voice of the ego based on fear, insecurity, and a lack of abundance.
It’s victim thinking, not a hero.
I experienced this growing up.
It was like life was an all you can eat buffet.
But “You better get your money’s worth.”
It’s why cruise ship guests put on their “buffet pants.”
Or the advice of some who say, “don’t fill your plate with the cheap stuff, grab the good stuff.”
Now, what if we could shift this to the opposite?
What if we could change the question?
“What’s in it for me?”
“How can I help?”
By asking this new question, there is an assumption of abundance. This question assumes you have the power, capacity, and ability to help. It’s a powerful question. You are tapping into your true gifts. It comes from a deeply spiritual place, not your ego. There is more than enough to share.
We’ve all had ups and downs in our lives. I personally experienced many magical miracles. And then flipped to complete despair.
What I’ve noticed is the presence of the first question and not the latter. Mindset is the key.
So what is mindset?
A mentor of mine recently gave me an amazingly simple definition:
“Mindset is the voice(s) in your head.”
That’s so true. I hear my parents, teachers, and even people I don’t care for speaking in my head.
Who put these voices in our heads?
They get installed automatically throughout life. Parents. Teachers. Relatives. Caregivers. Friends. Facebook. The media…
The thing is, unless you are aware, you are being programmed all the time. If you let it wash over you daily without consciousness, you are installing these voices. The prevailing mindset of lack, poverty, and despair.
The good news is, you can reinstall new voices. It’s like upgrading your internal operating system to the latest, greatest version. You choose your own voice.
Tomorrow, my son turns sixteen. Sixteen! We’re about to start visiting colleges. Think about focus of study. Plan out a course for life.
What I want most for him is to flip the questions. Ask more empowering ones.
“How can I help?”
“What can I offer the world?
What was I born to do?
What are my gifts?
What makes me the only one?”
A Lifetime of Questions
Of course, questioning goes on for a lifetime.
We never completely know. We are always discovering.
The journey of life and success IS the journey of discovering the answers to this question. Life is self-discovery. And this question can change your life.
How can I help?
I hope this awakens something inside of you. New voices = new life. This goes beyond parenting, music, education, business, whatever. This is for you. And through you, you will light up the world.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and place it under a basket, but place it on a lamp-stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine, so that they may see your good works…” – Matthew 5:14. the Bible
At age 7, I used to lay on the grass lawn of our suburban home, head cradled in my hands, staring at the clouds drifting past. I was acutely aware of the sounds reaching me and they would begin pulling pieces of me to their sources; the dog behind the house barking, above and to the left a small plane passing by, the swish-swish-jerk of the sprinkler across the street, the passing cars, and in the distance a tractor trailer roaring past on the highway.
On summer nights, when it was too hot to sleep in the beds, my father would leave the front door open and lay out bamboo mats on the living room floor. I would lay for hours taking in the night sounds. There was a party going on several blocks away and suddenly, I was there, dancing to the music, wandering around the party, only to sneeze and find myself back on the living room floor.
Or the sound of the train whistle from several towns away would have me wondering where it was going. Where would I want to be going at this time of night on a train? I couldn’t wait to grow up, to get out there and explore the world of these sounds.
When I reached my teens, I realized that I could chart my own course towards futures that used to seem out of reach. I devoured piles and piles of books, building new worlds inside myself, and forever living in this imagined but very real future.
As I grew into a young man, I continued living with this future focus. It astounded me to see others glide into new abilities and graceful poise with ease. I continually felt “late.” It was like everyone else got the invite a couple of years ago and I just found out about the party. I was always feeling like a “late bloomer.”
A sense of being out of sync continued. But it swung the other way. I was in constant angst, frustration and impatience for the future to hurry up and arrive! I dove into technology, innovation – anything ‘new and improved’ caught my eye. I lived on the bleeding edge of innovation, always the way-early-adopter and impatient for the rest of the world to catch up.
Other times I would be walking down the street and see someone looking at me. I would see them and think, they look kind of familiar…where did I see this person? Awkward. They would turn out to be someone I worked with at a job just last year and would be miffed I couldn’t even remember them.
And then I met M.
She was my opposite in so many ways. I didn’t think too much at first, but within a week, I was smitten, enchanted; I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I loved the way she would stop me in the middle of one of my “big fascinating idea rants” and say, “Don’t you love how those flowers smell?”
“What? What flowers?”
“On that tree we just passed.”
“Um. Oh yeah.”
At first, it would drive me nuts when I was talking about some big amazing new idea that was oh-so important and her eyes would drift over to a baby in a stroller walking past. She would start talking to the baby and I would just stop and wonder, what was I saying?”
After a while, I did start to notice these “little” details. It was like I was so far in the future that I couldn’t even notice the present.
It’s been over two decades since beginning my re-entry into the “real world.” A part of me still feels like I’m late, but in the last few years, I’ve begun to get this sense that perhaps I’m a bit early.
You know that Seinfeld episode where Elaine is dating the bald guy? Jerry says, “What is he, from the future?”
“There’s cinnamon in there…sparkles and cinnamon.” M laughed.
I rolled over onto the New York Times Sunday edition spread out on the floor. The sun was streaming in and M was staring at me with a look of wonder.
“Your eyes are dusted with cinnamon and sparkles.”
“Really?” I fumbled for my glasses. I couldn’t see further than a foot without them. The room was dark compared to the sunlight stream I had been laying in.
I never liked my eyes. I always felt they were strange, weird, foreign. Growing up as the alien in a suburban neighborhood who had never seen anyone like me made me feel like a freak.
“Your eyes are beautiful.”
“Uh, no one’s ever told me that before.”
“Well they are.”
It was a hot summer and I was unemployed. I was filling my time with odd jobs off the books while collecting unemployment. I was also just embarking on a new journey as an actor. A world where knowing oneself, and truly becoming comfortable with myself was the key to success. And yet, I had still never really accepted my own looks. It was terrifying, and difficult. It was like I was doing everything to not be me. I had long hair down to my waist, I wore skull rings on all ten of my fingers, a black leather motorcycle jacket – to look fiercer and not weak. My music was all aggressive heavy metal.
But I wasn’t really this either. Inside I was all soft. I was curious, full of wonder, yearning to learn who I really was. I loved to laugh and even though my outside was like a porcupine with quills up, I was really desperate to be liked…or, gulp, loved.
“You are eyes are the best. Lay down in the sun again and let me look some more.” M giggled as she laid across my chest to gaze into my eyes. I could hardly see her as the sun was so bright. She kissed me in succession of gentle, soft lip prints in a line from my forehead down to my lips.
I thought to myself, “One day, I’m going to marry this girl.”
Life is good. I’ve been having an excellent summer. Why? Mostly because we planned some great recreation like a trip away to Puerto Rico, time on the beach, visit to the vineyards and just time to think and read. Summer is a time for renewal, re-creation and getting inputs to creativity. You can’t create if you’re empty!
Here’s some of what I’ve been thinking and reading lately.
An awesome article by the most generous Steve Scott with all the tools and strategies an author used to launch a Kindle book
I found this cool tool called Wordie that allows you to create a typographic poster of words you put in it. It also allows you to put in a URL of your website to create a word poster of your website. Very cool.
I was thinking that I could use this to create a self-motivational poster using Dr. Stephen Covey’s ideas of roles. In his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he talks about planning your day/week/month using the roles of your life such as Father, Employee, Husband, Church-goer etc. This allows you to plug in an activity in each of your role areas ensuring you don’t give one short shrift, like say Husband. “Bring home flowers!”
Here’s something that I made today. I’ll probably make other ones that make me focus on my goals and ways of being, example “Loving kindness.”
I’m also planning on using this with some of my music students to help motivate them to practice more.
A wonderful painting is the result of the feeling in your fingers. If you have the feeling of the thickness of the ink in your brush, the painting is already there before you paint. When you dip your brush into the ink you already know the result of your drawing, or else you cannot paint. So before you do something, “being” is there, the result is there. Even though you look as if you were sitting quietly, all your activity, past and present, is included, and the result of your sitting is also already there. – D.T. Suzuki
These words are as true for music as any art.
Andrew Ingkavet is a composer with over 2 decades experience creating music for film, theater, advertising and new media.