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A friend of mine was putting on an acting workshop a while ago, and he had asked me to collect everyone’s payment leading up to the seminar, while he was out of town. His litany of instructions for collecting cash, checks; expecting delays, pushback; and other folly regarding inevitable money orders, saving the actor’s spots and other rigamarole was extensive. His email was nearly two pages long of how to navigate the entire situation, and all I could think of at the time was that his approach to the favor he had asked of me was overly analogue in what could have been digitally solved in a fraction of the time. Instead of challenging him on his list of “hows” upon which he insisted, I simply confirmed what he needed when all was said and done: He needed to collect payment from those who wanted to participate—preferably before the event (though he said that was virtually impossible). Bare bones, that was his desire.

I had everyone Venmo their payment to me if they wanted a spot in the workshop, and within three days, I had everyone’s money for him—without going anywhere or doing a single extra thing.

Needless to say, he now uses Venmo for everything and has streamlined his business, his life, tremendously. I meant no disrespect to his way of doing things, I just had a sneaking suspicion that there was an easier way. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s how Venmo was invented in the first place…how all innovation happens; instead of heeding the old ways of doing something, someone opens themselves up to an easier solution. Innovation: Open-hearted, unchartered desire for ease, flow and fun.

“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with the results.” —George S. Patton

I had been forced to memorize General Patton’s quote while in the military, but after working with my friend, his words, his sentiment, felt much bigger—like a portal to a new level of understanding about our relationship with the universe. It mirrors the above dynamic quite profoundly, in that we make decisions about our lives—declare to the universe many desires that we have—and instead of trusting the powerful life force connecting us to all things, we try to get in there and force our “hows” upon the situation. What we don’t realize, is that just like my friend was collecting payment using his limited perspective of what had been inside his past experience, we, too, only have the limited scope of how we handled everything in our past. That is, unless we open ourselves up to the collective power connecting all things by aligning ourselves with the full force of the present moment. That connective tissue—the collective power that keeps our world in orbit, the power that rises the sun and sets the moon, the power into which all plants and animals are tuned, so that they don’t strain one millisecond to grow, they just flow—that is what is at our disposal. And if we can choose to let go of our past story, our deeply trodden habits of doing things, our expectations based on what we have seen in our life’s rearview mirror, then we can step fully into alignment with this infinite power that creates worlds. The “hows” don’t have to be our domain. We have the choice in each moment to allow life, the universe, to “surprise [us] with the results” of our desires.

Next time you have something that you want done, and you start typing a metaphorical litany of ways that the universe could, should bring it to you, DELETE YOUR EXPECTATIONS. Open your heart to innovation…

And let the universe surprise you with the results.