Tuesday, February 14, 2006

How to Win at “Yabbutz”

A long time ago, my wife and I were foster parents for struggling teenagers. Those of you who have raised teenagers of your own know what a challenge they can be when they’ve been brought up well. Think how difficult it can be with a history of abuse and criminal activity!

But these kids taught me about a game we all play, called “Yabbutz.” It’s a pretty simple game, but it also has many nuances.

For example, we often had chores the kids were supposed to do around the house. Often, some of their privileges in the household hinged on their completion of the tasks. So, we often had to play this game, and they were masters.

It would go something like this:

“Tom, weren’t you supposed to do the dishes before you played video games?”

“Yabbut you never showed me where the dish soap was.”

“You could have looked for it…”

“Yabbut I didn’t know where to look!”

“Don’t we usually keep it, oh, I don’t know, under the sink?”

“Yabbut I think we’re out of that…”

You get the idea.

The thing was, they always thought that if they kept playing “Yabbutz” with us, they’d keep winning. And in a way, they would, because they’d keep pushing. But in the end, they’d still lose, because they’d have to stop playing video games and still get the dishes done.

It wasn’t until years later that I realized just how good I had become at the game. I was facing some challenges as I was trying to get my music website started. A good friend was encouraging me to press forward with my goals. She thought it would be a great idea for me to promote my music.

“Yabbut I haven’t made any new music in a long time.”

“You have some old songs you could start with, right?”

“Yabbut they’re not that good. Plus they’re old”

“You can write new songs and make new recordings.”

“Yabbut I don’t have much time.”

I was using Yabbutz to keep myself in a comfort zone of wanting to do my music, but “not being able to”. As long as I kept Yabbutting myself into the cage, I’d never have to actually move out and take the risk.

It wasn’t long after that I learned how to really win at Yabbutz. You have to change the roles. You have to become the one that thinks in terms of possibilities. Your obstacles may well be real and even huge, but if you Yabbutz them, you can overcome them, you can work around them, even dodge them entirely.

For example, the voices in my head might say, “You can’t sing that good”

“Yabbut, I can practice and take lessons!”

“You don’t have twenty-thousand dollars to do a record in a professional studio.”

“Yabbut I can do it all with my home studio.”

“You don’t have anyone to distribute your CD’s when they’re done.”

“Yabbut I can sell them from my website until I do!”

Over the years, I’ve gotten much better at Yabbutting my way past obstacles. It’s not always easy, and it takes some real mental shifting. I’mstill faced with the same challenges I was before, but now I’m working with them instead of shutting down. I’m not always the best Yabbutz player. I still struggle, don’t you?

Yabbut we keep trying, don’t we?!

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