Is your glass bigger than it needs to be?

Do your views help or hurt you?George Carlin once made the following observation: “Some people see the glass half full. Others see it half empty. I see a glass that’s twice as big as it needs to be.”

There are an infinite number ways to view any particular situation. Some perspectives will energize and encourage you, while others will psych you out, making you feel helpless and inadequate. This month, we’re going to explore ways to boost yourself up and avoid dragging yourself down.


Let’s talk about the level in your glass.

It strikes me as a little simplistic to say that calling the glass half empty indicates a pessimistic nature, while calling it half full indicates an optimistic one. That’s a blanket statement, which I generally consider suspect. George Carlin’s view shows greater flexibility, plus it’s innovative and powerful. After all, who says you have to be using that size glass, anyway?


Choose the size of your glass intentionally.

This approach requires maintaining a dynamic equilibrium between two potentially opposing factors: (1) dreaming big and bold and (2) celebrating what you have in the here and now.

If you listen to virtually anyone who’s acknowledged to be in the forefront of the personal growth field, you’ll hear them comment that most of us dream and play way smaller than we deserve.  We settle for what we have instead of going for what we want. If this sounds familiar and you’re not ready to keep playing small, then you can choose to start figuring out the action steps that will get you to those bigger goals.

On the other hand, life is too short to spend all your time thinking about what the future will bring. You also get to enjoy what you’ve already accomplished in the present. Everything you’ve already done to grow your business is worth acknowledging and honoring.

What this all means is that you get to consciously and intentionally seek equilibrium between a future orientation and a present orientation. Some parts of your work day get to be devoted to envisioning and creating the bigger life you intend to have, while other parts go to maintaining and enjoying everything you’ve already created for yourself.


Focus + flexibility + appreciation = kick-butt outcomes.


Be intentional about the meanings you give to your language.

Rev. Jeff Briere, of People’s Church Unitarian Universalist in Cedar Rapids, recently shared the following unique perspective on the half-full/half-empty question. I found it wonderfully powerful because it creates a no-lose way of looking at the level in your glass.

If you call the glass half full, that implies that the glass has unused capacity and can be filled even more.

If you call the glass half empty, that implies that it once was full. And there’s no reason it can’t be full again.

Both perspectives focus, not on lack, but on the opportunity for more.

Don’t let anybody, including yourself, label you as a “woe is me” pessimist. You have the power to create your own positive self-fulfilling prophecy.


Challenge your assumptions.

Entrepreneurs are often paralyzed by inaction if they think that their actions, products, services, processes, and outcomes “should” look a particular way. You probably know how this happens: If you can’t figure out how to make it (whatever it is) look like it “should”, you’re unlikely to get started on it, much less finish it and share it with your ideal clients.

What unconscious assumptions are you making on a daily basis? Are they propelling you forward or keeping you stuck?

I can speak on this with great authority, because I found myself stuck and staring at a blank screen when I started to write this blog post. I had the title, I had the concept, I had an image in mind of how it should be structured (between 3 and 5 main points, ideally 5); what I didn’t have was any ideas for the content.

It took me a few minutes, but I realized that by assuming I had to address five main points, I’d paralyzed myself. “Five” was so overwhelming that my brain couldn’t come up with even one good point to start with. Since this was obviously not working well, I gave myself permission to address three key concepts instead of five. I re-sized my glass, took a lot of pressure off myself, and got my brain working again. If I hadn’t realized I was making a counterproductive assumption, I might still be staring at a blank screen.


What are your thoughts on the whole concept of glasses being half full or half empty? How has your attitude in this regard helped or hindered you?

Maybe you’re so overwhelmed by your Too Much To Do list you can’t even engage your brain enough to answer that question. If that’s the case, it might be because you’re so close to your situation that you can’t really focus on anything in it. In a case like that, what’s often needed is a new set of eyes that can look on from a slight distance and bring into focus what’s vague and blurry for you.

It just so happens that I have such a pair of new eyes (even if they are assisted by bi-focals).

As the lead actor in the production of your own life, it’s often tough to step back from the action long enough to put on your director’s hat and figure out what you want to happen next and how to make it happen. When I work with clients, I have the built-in distance and objectivity that typically makes it easier for me to see the important next steps and how to launch them.

If that sounds like something worth exploring, maybe it’s time for a first date by phone. A 30- to 40-minute call would enable both of us to ask and answer some important questions, and at the end of that time, we’d both be confident that we’d made the right decision—whether that was to say “Good-bye and good luck” or “Look out, World, here we come!”

If you want to see if we can work together to increase the capacity of your glass and top it off, just call me at 319-270-1214 or email me a message with “Time to get acquainted!” in the subject line. We’ll see what shakes out from there.

(By the way, thanks to Ahmad Hammoud for posting his image of the half-empty/full glass in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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