Dylan Thomas and fabric swatches (stop stopping yourself)

I spent a brilliant weekend at my brother’s wedding in London, where I was honored to be asked to do a reading. I wanted to read something to reflect our Welsh heritage. And as my new sister-in-law is a talented dressmaker, I picked a passage from Dylan Thomas’s “Under Milk Wood,” which shares the dreams of Mr. Mog Edwards, the town draper, and Miss Myfanwy Price, dressmaker and sweet-shop keeper.

To separate the two voices, I wanted to use props: a hot water bottle to represent Miss Price’s “lonely, loving hottwaterbottled body” and a book of material swatches for Mr. Mog Edwards. The first was an easy purchase, I just needed to find a clothing, dressmaker or furniture shop in Richmond-upon-Thames (a lovely area in London) that would lend me a swatch book.

So I set off to ask stores to help me. This is how it went:

No. 1 said they didn’t have material swatch books, and looked at me a little quizzically.  

No. 2 only sold completed pieces and didn’t have sample books, but suggested places I could try and gave me directions.

No. 3 was a very upscale store (to be honest, each store was, as it was Richmond-upon-Thames) with several store assistants that stood and watched me as I explained why I wanted to borrow a swatch book for 24 hours. One of the assistants then looked away from me, and actually started talking about me and my “stupid” request – while I was stood there – and then started sniggering, which seemed to encourage the other assistants to follow her lead. For a moment I felt embarrassed and silly, dismissed, with several people laughing at me.

This is a key moment: the point where you can stop. Whether it’s in sales and how you respond to a negative prospect, or anything that you want in life where you reach what could be interpreted as a roadblock and an inner voice says, “Well, that’s that then – at least you tried,” it’s the point where you give yourself permission to give up.

I shrugged my shoulders and went to No. 4, where the store manager couldn’t have been more helpful. He was intrigued by what I was reading that would involve a fabric swatch book as a prop, then showed me where they kept all their swatch books, gave me a choice of swatch books and wished me luck with the reading.

I did get a few odd looks as I stood up during the ceremony clutching a hot water bottle and a large swathe of fabrics, but the reading was well-received. 

The lesson? I could have stopped after store No. 3, feeling more than a little rejected, but able to comfort myself that I had tried.

Where do you stop? In life, in sales and in things that YOU want from your life, where do you stop out of fear of failure, of potential ridicule and with the self-affirmation “Well, at least I tried?”’

Imagine if you didn’t stop – and you pushed beyond the thing that you think may not work, or the thing that you think may make you look silly, or “fail.”

Want to ‘Stop Stopping?’ then why not check out my new training for individuals who want to shift behavior and shift results.

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