Fill Out the Damn Survey

Fill Out the Damn Survey

I go to Dairy Queen the other day to use a coupon for a hot fudge sundae. When I pay, the man at the cash register hands me a receipt and tells me that if I will call this number (he points to the number) and complete a survey about my experience I will get a free ice cream bar. I thank him and leave. I think I probably smile really big and say an enthusiastic “Thank You!” as if this news is such a generous and surprising gift Dairy Queen is offering just for me.

As I stuff the receipt into the cavernous pocket of my purse, I ask myself: “Will I call? Is it worth it?”

This same situation takes place at almost every place I visit where I am a consumer. In an effort to cultivate a “culture of feedback” in a society that would rather not give or receive it (feedback that is), bribery has become standard. Fill out this survey and you will be entered for a chance at $5,000! Call this number and tell us how we did and you could get $500 in free groceries!

I know I won’t call. The ice cream bar isn’t worth it to me.

As I make this decision, my thoughts turn to my friend, Jenn.

Jenn is one of the hardest working, business savvy people in my life. A clear thinker. Straight shooter. She is kind and caring and giving. Passionate. Huge servant heart.

She is also smart and brave and confident and thorough. Fierce. You want her on your side. The last time we hang out over coffee…before we even get to anything personal…she shows her love for me, like she does, by interrogating how I am running my therapy practice, which I am just starting after taking a break due to relocating to a new city.

“Emily, have you done A, B, and C? No? DO IT. NOW. I am setting a reminder to check in on you and make sure you are doing X, Y, and Z. Also, do NOT sell yourself short. I know you love people. I do, too. That’s great. And, this is a business. I remember the trips you drove to finish your PhD, pumping milk for your baby driving down that interstate. Do NOT undersell yourself.”

Later she does what she always does: “Did I say too much? I’m sorry. I think I said too much.”

I smile big. “No, you didn’t say too much. I need to be kicked in the tail on these things.”

The truth is that I feel cared for.

Have I mentioned that I really, really love my friends? I am grateful every day for who they are and how they love me.

I remember one of the first times I visit Jenn in her home. While we talk she completely reorganizes her lower cabinets in the living room. As a mom of three daughters with a clean and orderly home, and a long list of friends she loves deeply and well, she is in constant motion. Jenn is tenacious in her loving and working and living.

And, in the midst of her constant motion there have been many times she drops what she is doing to show up at my house to pray for me, send a text to see how I am doing, or to love on my fourteen year old daughter who has been friends with her daughter since they were three years old.

So the first time Jenn tells me that she ALWAYS fills out the surveys on receipts I don’t believe her. I think I laugh out loud. She does not…laugh, that is. “Oh, yes. Always”, she says. “I always fill out the surveys.” Jenn, this amazing, hardworking, loving mama of three…always fills out the survey?!

Here’s the thing. Jenn has had some amazing wins in her life and while she gives credit to others or points towards the very real work of God in her life, I know that a big piece to the story is that Jenn wins…because she shows up. She puts in the work. She puts herself out there.

She fills out the damn survey.

My aunt, Robin, is also someone who seems to win things.  For as long I can remember I have heard stories of my aunt winning some random item from a random boutique or some other business. Robin also ENTERS these random possibilities.

She fills out the damn survey.

Last Saturday morning I go watch my second daughter at softball practice. I take my youngest daughter so she can play on the playground nearby as I enjoy listening to some adorable, mouthy, confident, hilarious twelve-year-old girls. They are quick witted, sarcastic, and so funny. On a side note, as I watch I also pray hard that they always stay this way. Mouthy, confident, and quick-witted, that is. And, hilarious.

Rightly so, their coach, a patient man and the father of one of the girls, yells out to them: “Girls! You look like the Bad News Bears out there! Practice like you are going to play because I promise that you will play like you practice.”

Man, it has been a while since I have heard that line. Play like you are going to practice. I can still hear and see Coach Charlie Smith saying those words to me when I was in middle school tennis.

Fill out the damn survey.

Practice like you are going to play.

I think so many of us fall down before we even stand up. We haven’t learned how to talk ourselves up like no one else will ever be able to do for us. We are waiting. Waiting for something to just happen. For something to be handed to us. We look around and wonder why “So and So” always seems to get the chances. The shots. The opportunities.

Sometimes they have been practicing for years like they are going to play…and now they are playing like they have been practicing.

Sometimes they just filled out the damn survey.

And, you didn’t.

I know it isn’t all that simple. I am one of the last people to come up with simple equations for success. We are not all born on equal footing in a variety of ways and to pretend that we are born on equal footing leads to some of the worst versions of abuse and discrimination.


What are your dreams? For your DAILY life. What does your ideal day look like? I am not talking about big, unattainable dreams. I am talking about life. Do you want days that include a good job and taking care of yourself in a variety of ways? Community?

And, what are you waiting for in order for these things to happen? What are you waiting to appear on your doorstep for your life to look like how you dream? For it to look like you dream on a daily basis?

Listen to yourself. Are you impressed with your answer?

The president of where I attended University, Dr. Paul Conn, has a saying: Dream big, work small.

It has to be both. Has to.

Small actions and following through on mundane responsibilities builds up your emotional and mental stamina, follow through, and confidence.

Big dreams keep up motivated. Small works actually get us there.

Fill out the damn survey, friend. Put yourself out there. Show up. Do the work.

Practice like you want to play because I promise you will play like you practice.