10/17/2014 01:21 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Lights Go on Part XXVI: Declare What You Want

It is often a mystery to me as to why
more people do not speak up for themselves
and say what they want.

I had the pleasure of interviewing
Courtney Lauren Penn this past weekend.
Courtney is dear to me as she is the daughter
of one of my closest friends, Bill Caldwell.

When Bill left the planet suddenly a few years ago,
Courtney, with whom I have long had a creative,
intellectual as well as spiritual affinity,
became even more important to me.

I feel protective of her.

Having earned her masters degree from NYU's film school,
After a cum laude pre-med degree from Penn,
she is a screenwriter, director and producer, and,
in partnership with her brother, Brandon,
owner of her own film company, Boundless Pictures,
with quite a few international releases to their credit.

All this to get to the point of this post.

During our interview, we talked about
the power of declaring what you want.

It has worked for me since I was a child.

My father encouraged me thus:
"No one will ever become annoyed with you
for telling them what you want.

"At the very least, they will admire you for knowing what you want."

I was also emboldened by him to 'take action'
when I had declared what I wanted
and an opportunity arose.

Pretty straight forward.

But how often do we let these opportunities pass?

And why?

I believe it is fear.

Courtney shared with me a great example of this phenomenon.

When Brandon and Courtney first started their company,
they attended a film producers conference where they enjoyed access
to well established and highly successful producers,
spending round table time with many of them.

Courtney explained how this particular Academy Award winning producer
handed out his card to the young producers that visited his table,
inviting them to contact him and set up a meeting.

Courtney and Brandon took action and did just that.

They were warmly received and benefitted from
this senior producers candidness and encouragement
as well as his guidance.

At a certain point he related this tidbit that shocked them.

"I have been attending the event at which we met for over fourteen years
and each year I offer to meet with the attendees who visit my table,
and would you believe this?

"You are the first to take me up on it."


This astonished me.

When a person who possesses experience,
combined with wisdom as well as proven talent and business acumen,
offers to hold a private session with us
so we might walk away enriched
by those qualities they are willing to share,
how could we not?

Bravo Courtney and Brandon!

But what of the dozens of those
who did not act on that opportunity?

I have a theory.

It is my opinion that they believed a lie.

A lie that may sound something like this:

"Why would he want to talk with me?"

"He/She's already climbed the mountain at which I barely stand at the base!"

"I have nothing to offer him, I will embarrass myself."

and... yada yada yada.

Noise that keeps us from getting what we want.

We are not that smart.

How do we know what they are thinking?

They have offered us an audience,
not necessarily to hear what we have on our plate,
but to share their wisdom and perhaps
instill a little more confidence in us
that will serve us on our journey.

As strange as this may sound,
I believe that so many of us would rather
paint a dark outcome
and be 'right'
than take up an offer like this
and be 'wrong.'

Wrong about what?

Picture yourself in the position of Courtney and Brandon.

Was there really anything to lose?

Self doubt is a bitch.

And a lie.

It takes courage, I admit.

It has been my experience
that I acquire courage
as I walk through fear.


Prolly' not.

I love this quote from Ollie Mitchell, one of my closest fiends
with whom I have shared five generations of family friendship.

"Just dive in and get all scratched up."


Thank you Courtney,

for sharing your story,
so we all might gain from it.

I honor your courage.

It has bolstered mine.