With the world as it is, people oftentimes are afraid to extend a helping hand because of a traumatic personal experience. To discuss why your work is meaningful in a broader aspect and how to overcome fear is Shawn Askinosie. He is the Founder of Askinosie Chocolate, listing on the top 25 Best Small Companies in America, he and his team continue to provide help to those in need. Shawn and Rodney Flowers talk about how you can build new habits that will benefit you and the people around you. Recognizing that humanity, as a race, should move forward together and not leave anyone behind, they share their insights on what the purpose and meaning of life is in the grand scheme and how you can do your part by staying in your own lane.
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Overcoming Fear: Why You And Your Work Is Meaningful With Shawn Askinosie
I have a very special guest with me. His name is Shawn Askinosie. He is a chocolatier, a criminal defense lawyer, and a wonderful gentleman. In 2006, Shawn left a successful career as a criminal defense lawyer to start a bean to bar chocolate factory, and never looked back. His company, Askinosie Chocolate was named by Forbes as one of the 25 Best Small Companies in America. The company has provided over one million school lunches to malnourished children in Tanzania and the Philippines without any donations. It’s founded at the forefront of the American Craft Chocolate Revolution and regarded by many as a vanguard in the industry. Sean has been named by O, The Oprah Magazine, one of the fifteen guys who are saving the world. Welcome to the show, Mr. Shawn Askinosie.
Rodney, thank you so much.
I’m glad to have you here. How are you doing with everything that’s going on in the world now?
This is a great question of relativity. My bar, for how I’m doing, is a lot different than it was. I’m doing good. Everybody is employed in my factory. We haven’t had to let anyone go. Chocolate is still selling. We’re safe about the way we produce chocolate. We have a very small team. Things are going well. I’m continuing in my spiritual practice. From a spiritual, emotional standpoint, it’s been a struggle on some days, but I keep doing what I’ve been doing for many years, put one foot in front of the other, and it’s going well.
That’s saying a lot because this pandemic has caused a lot of disruption for a lot of people. They’re not able to keep going and put one foot in front of the other because of the uncertainty. What are some of the practices that you’ve been incorporating in order to maintain your sanity, rituals, and overall wellbeing?
The one thing that I have been doing, and I encourage people to do this is, I’ve tried not to change what I was doing. For example, sometimes when people are beginning a new, whatever it could be, it could be in a workout, exercise, or developing a new habit. When this disruption point comes, as you described, we often find that as a place where we can use it as an excuse not to continue and the challenge is even greater at that point because it’s hard to develop a habit. In my morning habit of meditation and prayer, which I’ve had for many years, I decided when all of this stuff became very unsettled and uncertain that I would keep doing it. I keep doing my morning prayers.
I pray for other people, specifically those who are sick and suffering. I have a time of meditation, music, light a candle, and I still do it. There are mornings that I don’t feel like doing it. I’ve done a variation of this for many years. The thing I’ve tried to do is keep doing the same thing. The other things that I’ve incorporated are more exercise-related things to try to break up the routine a little bit. I would say from an emotional and spiritual standpoint, this is very important if you don’t have some daily routine of grounding. It doesn’t matter what your religion or no religion. Now is the time to pick one, stick to it, and stay with it.
You hit it on the head when you talk about we give ourselves an excuse not to do a ritual or a practice that we’ve put in place because of what’s going on in the world. We find ourselves distracted by that and give ourselves permission because this is such a great distraction to say, “It’s okay to not do your practice,” whatever it is. We’re surrounded by so much uncertainty right now that is hard to stay grounded because people are wondering, “What’s the need to stay grounded because I don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring? I don’t know if I need to stay grounded.” It puts you in this space of complete uncertainty about not only what’s going on in the world but yourself and what you should do as an individual.Humanity's greatest freedom is the choice that we make between the stimulus that happens to us and our response. Click To Tweet
I like your philosophy about regardless of what’s going on, stay true to your practice, routine, rituals. I believe that although we live in a big world and there are a lot of things that are happening in the world, I look at it as a great giant circle, if you will. That’s the world. I’m a little dot in that great big circle and I can’t control everything that’s going on in this great, big circle. There’s a lot going on in that great big circle, but that small little dot, that’s my space and lane. If I can control what goes on there, regardless of what’s going on in the circle, although what’s going on in the circle has some effect on what goes on in that little dot, I get to choose how much of that I want to take on and going to allow to influence me.
Some of it is it is what it is. I can’t control it but to the best of my ability, I’m going to control everything that goes on in this little dot. At least, how I respond to the effects that the things that are going on in that big circle has on me. That’s my responsibility. If I can control that, keep that in line, and keep that little small space align with what I want out of life, where I want to go in life, what makes me happy, what keeps me grounded, then things will be okay regardless of what’s going on out there in that giant circle. That philosophy or that framework, if you will, allows me to master and conquer everything that comes my way. Realizing that it doesn’t always turn out the way I want it to every single time, but for the most part, I can manage it and create purposeful and positive meaning out of everything that happens. It allows me to keep moving and progress.
I share your view and you’re speaking my language because it sounded for a moment you were channeling Viktor Frankl, who wrote the famous Man’s Search for Meaning. He was a Holocaust survivor and he said that humanity’s greatest freedom is the choice that we make between the stimulus that happens to us and our response. That space between what happens to us and then how we respond to it is humanity’s greatest freedom that we’ll ever know. That’s what you’re saying. That’s especially true and tested in uncertain times. It’s easy on the mountaintop. You can see everything. It is not easy in the valley. In my faith tradition, there’s this philosophy and doctrine called the Paschal Mystery. It’s these competing worlds that we find ourselves walking through because nothing is static.
It’s all changing all the time. That means from death to resurrection, from darkness to light, from the valley to the mountain top. From our life experience, we know that even though we’re in the valley and we may not even be able to see in front of our hands that there will be light. We know it. It’s in our bodies. We’ve experienced it. It may not be now, tomorrow, the next day, or the next day after that, but there will be. John O’Donohue, I love him, he’s an Irish poet-philosopher. He’s not alive now but he would describe this as a threshold.
We’re not here and we’re not there. We’re in the middle somewhere. We’re in a threshold and often, people are uncomfortable in thresholds. I get it. I’m uncomfortable too. I’m in one now. We all are. We know that a threshold is a place of pain but it’s the place of creativity, beauty, acceptance, surrender, not in a bad way but in a good way, and this is hard for some people to understand. It is also the birthplace of joy. I know your background to the extent that it’s available to read online. You are an example of this. You know what I’m talking about.
It requires a certain maturity and awareness.
What do you say to someone though, who’s reading this conversation and they’re like, “That’s great, but I will admit that I don’t have that level of maturity but I’m struggling and I’m in a threshold. What do I do?” What would you say to them?
First of all, you want to be grateful for being in the threshold. A lot of people don’t like pain. Pain is a great indicator that you are alive and it is a better alternative than not being alive. If you can feel the pain, then that’s something to be grateful for because that means that you are alive and you have to deal with things that alive people have to deal with. You don’t have to deal with this if you’re dead, but because you are alive, you’ve got to deal with a little bit of pain. Let’s be grateful for that. What do we do with that pain? We have to recognize because it’s a part of life that it’s only temporary. It’s not something that’s going to last forever.
Nothing in life lasts forever. There’s the sun and then there’s rain, there’s cloudy then it’s clear, the tide goes in and it goes out. It’s the Law of Rhythm. We have to realize that it’s not going to last forever. How can I be better in this? What can I do to alleviate the pain? What is my effect on pain? Am I causing the pain? What can I do to decrease the pain? Look at yourself instead of looking on the outside. That’s what I would say. COVID-19 is what we’re talking about here. You still look at yourself. I know you didn’t cause COVID-19 but how can you grow in this situation? We’re in a place where it’s locked down, a lot of isolation is happening. People can’t go out. We’re in a shutdown situation.
For me, it’s the most beautiful thing in the world because you can do some of the things that you’ve been too busy living doing. As I started talking about, it’s a part of life. Things are not temporary. You have your ups and your down and your tie go in and out. This is an opportunity for you to be still, practice silence, get to know yourself a little bit better, look inside, find out things about you that you knew but you ignore because you were so busy. Bring those things alive. I’ve got a friend right now, he’s teaching himself piano because he has the time to teach himself piano. He’s a fitness trainer. He has hundreds of clients. Now he’s shut down. He’s not going crazy. He’s like, “I’ll teach myself something new.”
When it’s all over, he’ll have his hundreds of clients and he’ll know how to play the piano. You have to take the time to view life in that way. You have to have a certain type of perception about the things that are going on. It’s not all bad. There are two sides to a coin, the Law of Polarity. By law, there’s good and bad, up and down, left and right. There’s always the other side of things. Your view whatever it is right now, there’s another view, but you get to choose how you want to view it. If you don’t like what you see, change the lens. Put on a different pair of glasses. It’s that simple.
If you don’t like the thought of it, change your thoughts. That lies with you. I would tell people that you’ve got to take personal responsibility for where you are right now. We give away our power to the environment, to the things that happen so quickly and readily. Everyone else is doing it, we think it’s natural and it’s okay to do but it’s not. You are a powerful human being and your power lies in your thoughts, how you view things, how you see things, how you process things. If you can take the time to take a step back with all this stuff that’s going on, process it, and then deliberately look for the good in it.
I find that people especially in this group, this category that we’re speaking of, who give in to this, they’re defeated and feel defeated, don’t feel like they have anywhere to turn, and they’re in fear. I find that the first thing I ask people to do is to not breathe from the neck up because when we’re in this place of fear where we’re literally breathing from here. Take some deep breaths and let it out. It may sound simple but it’s a way for us to be grounded and become mindful of these things that you are speaking of and the things that you’re talking about. If we can do that, even in our fear, if we can pick the people that we’re talking to that we respect and admire who we view as role models, who are not perfect people, but we see them slightly ahead of us down the trail.
Can we pick up the phone or can we text somebody that we know that’s a friend of ours that’s a little further down the trail that’s willing to turn around and look back at us and reflect the light on us? Sometimes I find with social media and Facebook and stuff it’s this echo chamber of fear and division. I encourage people to, even though you may not be able to leave your house but if you can have contact with a friend, role model, and a mentor that you respect in these areas that we’re speaking of, that will help people a lot. Breathing and talking to friends, take the next step, and the next step. Before you know it, you’ll find that your fear is diminished and you will find new places of joy.
I would like to add that you get out what you put in. I’m a firm believer in that. I’m a fitness guy. If I want a fit body, I can’t expect it if I put in trash in the body. I like cars. I know if I’m putting orange juice in my gas tank, then I can’t expect my car to perform the way it’s supposed to perform. Your mind and your heart are the same way. If you’re inundated by all the negativity and the crap that’s on the news on a consistent basis, I’m not saying not to watch the news, but the amount is something that you can monitor. If you’re allowing all this negativity, the effects of the uncertainty, and everything that’s going around, it’s okay for things to go around but it is to the effects of that, how much of the effects you’re allowing into you.
If you allow that into you, then you can’t expect for that not to come out of you because that’s a law. That’s what it is. We would want to monitor what we are putting in, just like if you were trying to lose weight. You would monitor what you eat, monitor what goes in through your eyes, ears, and monitor even thoughts that people may place upon you, things that are going on in their life. I’m not saying to have sympathy and empathy for people but there’s a place where you have to put your fence up around your heart and mind in order to maintain your sanity and joy.The threshold is a place of pain, but it's also the place of creativity, beauty, acceptance, surrender, and it's also the birthplace of joy. Click To Tweet
What you’re speaking of goes back to the very first thing that you said about there’s this big earth out there with however many billion people, we are just one dot. When you said there’s not much that we can control, that is the truth if there ever was. The truth is that we can’t control anything. The things that we think we can is just a figment of our imagination to think that we can control the way our spouse, children, co-worker, and colleagues behaves. We can’t control that. When you add on top of that, the general low boil of life, the things of, “This is happening. Why can’t I control this? Why is this?” When you add this pandemic on top of it, “Who do I believe? Do I wear a mask? Do I not wear a mask? Do I go out? Do I stay at six feet? I’m afraid,” then you add on top of that low boil on this troubling time.
When you add on top of that social unrest, what it does for many people is that it overwhelms them. It brings them to their knees. It gives us the sensation that everything is bad. Why can’t I have a greater role in controlling these bad things that are happening in a bigger way, when instead we should do what you said which is, let’s go inward and say to ourselves, “I am not going to be the savior of the world. I don’t want to be the savior of the world?” This is true for me. I wrote about this in the book. My goal in my life, I want to change my heart. That’s what I want. I work with kids all over the world. We have afterschool programs where you have school lunch programs but when you boil it all down, I want to change my heart.
Not once, I want to change it every day, constantly changing and flourishing. If I can do that with me, then I have a better chance of participating in a change in the world. If I control everything, or I need to write legislation, somebody needs to write legislation, not me. That’s not my gift. That’s not where I am. It’s not my lane. I want to accept responsibility in the pandemic and my responsibility for social unrest. I want to accept my responsibility as an entrepreneur, business owner, father, and husband. I want to accept my responsibility, but I also want to get great in my lane so that it reflects light so that my light shines bright in my tiny little house. Other people can say, “I see that little house over there. That light is shining bright. I want my light to shine bright.” Before you know it, we’re all together connected to each other and the light is brighter, it’s more sustainable, and we can breathe together. We think a lot alike.
That’s so beautiful because I listened to Myles Munroe a lot. I don’t know if you know Myles. Myles Monroe was a very famous spiritual leader in the Caribbean. He wrote several books. He died a few years ago in a plane crash. Myles talked a lot about self-leadership. In one of his books, he had a picture of a car on a slide and there’s a huge congregation. He asked the congregation, “Who’s the leader? What’s the leading part of this car?” All these parts were broken down. It’s a car, but you can tell all the parts weren’t together. They were disconnected. You could see all of the parts, but you still knew it was a car.
He would ask, “What’s the leading part of this car?” Some people will say it’s the battery, steering wheel, or the starter. What was funny was that it could be the starter or spark plugs but there’s this little wire between the battery and the spark plug. If you don’t have that little wire, even though your battery and spark plugs work, the car still is not going to work. That holds true for all of the parts of the car. You can have everything but if you don’t have your third wheel, it’s not going to work. You don’t have your steering wheel, it’s not going to work. That takes me back to your analogy when you talked about you want to control your little diet, you want to stay in your lane and you want to stay in your lane because we’re all connected. If you’re doing your part, we don’t know where we are in the car.
If you are the spark plug and I’m the battery, but if I’m trying to do the job of the spark plug and the battery, then it’s not going to work. We have a responsibility and a respected role to play in all of this. Because we all are connected, I believe that we all depend on each other to stay in that lane and not be distracted to stay on course. As a unit, as a human race, we can all move forward together collectively. I created the analogy where you got this big world and there’s one little dot, that’s me, but there are millions of little dots in this space. If all of these little dots are operating in their lane and they are not distracted by everything that’s going on in between the little dots because they’re too busy controlling that, we collectively can control the world because we can control the space of the world. Now we can get this big circle moving in a positive direction.
This moment that we’re in is an opportunity of a lifetime for that to happen collectively. We’re at a real turning point. I’m sure other people have thought that in history but I do believe that. I believe that these things that are happening and not just because of my faith but because of my felt experience, we’re at a moment in time of repentance. Even in my lane, I’m not going to look at you and say, “Rodney, I know you, you need to repent of this, this and this.” I need to repent in my lane, in my world, and of all of these big things that are happening in the world, where is my role in it?
I need to repent. In the Bible, repentance, the Greek word is metanoia and it means turning away. We need to turn away from what we’re doing to the earth. We need to treat the earth better. We need to treat our brothers and sisters better. We’re trying to feed these malnourished kids in the Philippines and Tanzania, where we buy cocoa beans. It’s not huge. My company is just eighteen people, including me but I’m doing my little part and the same is true for what we’re experiencing now with racial injustice. I have a part in that. How can I repent of my role in systemic racism as the participant in that institution?
How can I repent just me not judging someone else? That’s easy. That’s where the real challenge is. I also believe that when we are in a moment of an opportunity like this. It seems so dark in some of these times, but I also think it’s a time when the veil is perhaps at its thinnest. What I mean by that is in times like this, when we can experience the divine that we might not be able to experience in other ways, if we’re trying to operate together as your analogy said as a car, then what that requires is awareness. The likelihood of awareness is at its greatest in a moment like this because these conversations are happening. You and me, we’re talking. Hopefully, somebody is reading and they’ll say, “I’m connected too. I recognize my connectedness. What’s my role? How can I become more aware?” We’re at a real opportunity.
If you think about the series of events that have occurred over the last few months, it created a social distancing. You wanted to stay away from people. We had to figure out new ways to connect with each other. The social, racial experience happened again to show us how truly divided we are. If anything that I can see from this is how much we need to try to come together even in the face of COVID and social injustice. We have to stop looking at our differences, stop judging each other, look at ourselves as a human race, appreciate the gifts that we all have, share knowledge amongst one another, and move forward collectively. My mentor has this thing about leaving no one behind.
If you look at the Marines, one of the most highly respected warfighters in the country, they don’t leave anyone behind. When you’re out there on the battlefield, it doesn’t matter what color you are and where you come from, you’re looking out for your brother or your sister. That’s what it’s all about. We want to bring everybody home. Collectively, as a human race, we’ve got to have that same mentality for each other that everyone gets to go home, have a picket fence, has a lane, or a portion of this car that they have to uphold, perfect, and master in order for us to go forward. As long as we are keeping our foot on someone’s neck, we are hurting ourselves and we’re going to need a tow truck for the car. We’re not going to either move forward.
Here’s the thing, you’re right, and here’s the deal. That collective moving forward is going to happen one way or the other. We’re either going to be forced, as you said, they’re going to get a tow truck. The tow truck will have to have the energy to pull itself and the car behind it, or we’re going to do what you’re saying which is be aware, recognize that we’re all in this together, move forward together and leave no one behind that we’re all going home together. I love that idea. I love that notion of going home because that’s what this is all about. How do we do this is so important because we can go home a lot more peacefully, joyfully, finding moments of meaning, and love much easier if we recognized that we’re not going to leave a brother or sister behind.
We’re not going to do it. That way, we’re not going to be forced into it. By that, sometimes Mother Nature has plans for us but sometimes we send a message to Mother Nature that we don’t care about the earth, brothers, and sisters. When we love our brothers and sisters, we are picking them up, and letting them pick us up when we’re down and say, “I’m not going to leave you, we’re going home. I’m going to carry you on my shoulder. I’m going to hold your hand. I’m with you.” There’s a word for that. It’s called compassion. That is what we’re talking about here because this language of compassion is how we can go home together in a peaceful way. This is in my faith tradition. This is in our home that we’re here for a while that our home is an eternal space. I don’t know what that looks like. I don’t know exactly. Part of our jobs is exactly what you said and it’s to help each other return home. That’s our job. Not only is it our job, but if we do it, we will love it. It’s fun.
There are moments of pain like we’ve been talking about throughout our conversation but this is where we find love, peace, contentment and joy. Nice things are good and having things that make life easier but the real true depth of meaning in our life comes from these moments. I’m preaching to the choir here. You experienced this as a young man, both I’m sure as a recipient, someone loved you. I don’t know the whole story. Somebody came into your life, in your room, or hospital room, they loved you, and they said, “Rodney, here’s my hand. I’m with you. You are not in this alone.” I’m not a betting man, but I would bet on what happened to you.
It was more than that. It was that and they could see the mission. That’s what we’re missing. They could see through all of the mess that there was something this individual had to contribute to society and the world with his life. We can’t give up on him if we could see each other that way because, as we said, everyone has a lane and responsibility.
Do you remember that moment when that happened?It's in a time like this pandemic when we can experience the divine that we might not be able to experience in other ways. Click To Tweet
It happened repeatedly. This wasn’t a one and done. I was constantly reminded that there was something special for you to do. There was something great that you were going to do. There were people that you are going to touch where you were going to have an impact on the world.
How did that make you feel?
Determined, meaningful, purposeful. It made me feel that I had a calling. I had something that I needed to do, that this was just the means to an end. This whole accident was a vehicle or a lane for me to get to that place. I don’t consider the accident any different than we all have a proverbial wheelchair or accident. Everyone experiences something in life that’s traumatizing to some degree, some more than others, but the event or the experience exists in one way, shape, form, or another. It does because this is life, that’s it. It’s not the event. It’s how the person handles the event. That’s the difference-maker and the discriminator right there. Everyone has to see that as an opportunity for growth, which is a growth mindset or to their demands.
Some people inspire or spiral as a result of that. It is those that can look at that event as a stepping stone. Those are the ones that succeed. If anything I can get out of this or can pass along to anyone, you’re not going to escape trial, tribulation, trauma, sadness, disappointment, let down, or break up, whatever you want to call it. It’s going to happen but you can have the right mindset in order to process it. That’s where the real fun happens. When COVID hit, for me, it wasn’t a big deal. I’m like, “COVID is here. You have to be careful.” It wasn’t like, “Life is changing.” It didn’t even hit me that way. I’m not tooting my horns because I had been through a traumatic accident already.
I already knew from a mental standpoint. It’s how you’re going to process that this is what’s going to make the day. How are you viewing this? What are your thoughts? You still have a mission. You still have something to do, goals, and an objective. This is not an excuse for you not to hit those goals or meet those objectives, you stay on course. For me, it was like, “Don’t get distracted here. You have to navigate this.” I’m a football player so I look at things as I’m trying to get to that end zone, that’s the place I want to be, and there are things, objects, or people that that’s my position, they’re trying to stop me.
I haven’t figured out how to get around that as a running back to get to the end goal. That’s how I look at this event. It’s something I’ve got to navigate. The social unrest happened, I didn’t even want to get involved, to be honest with you. I was like, “That’s a distraction. Don’t get distracted. Stay focused and keep your head down.” I had to lift my head up because it was calling me as a leader to do something. I did that and I’m still doing things. At the same time, I’m still, “Hold up. You’ve still got to get here. Don’t lose focus on this. You’ve got a process. You’ve got to navigate.”
As I was saying before, when I hear you, I think to myself, what this experience does when we find ourselves in a place of trial? When something is happening that may not be something we’ve wished upon ourselves, when we’re experiencing this, someone comes along and recognizes that I’m not going to leave this person behind and that we’re all together in it. It has this multiplier effect. The experience that you had when you were young gives you an opportunity to know what it means to do that for someone else. The people that you are not going to leave behind, they’re going to do that for somebody else. This is called sustainability. This is how I believe we evolve as human race.
What I’m saying is that you are experiencing the person, people who loved you, who saw this in you, who elected, made the choice that they were going to spend time and investment on you. I’m not talking about money. I’m saying time and love. These years go by and then you decide, “I’m going to do this. I’m not going to do it for me. I’m not going to keep it all in my own heart selfishly. I’m going to turn around and do what these folks did for me.” This is evolution. It’s the evolution of the collective consciousness of our human race. This is why we’re going to do it. It seems so counterintuitive at this moment that we’re in. I am an optimist but I do believe the fact that we’ve been shaken by this is a good thing.
I would say too that there are those people who live life in fear who want to do everything they can at all costs to avoid these things that we’re talking about. They want to avoid an accident. They want to avoid protesting or in fear that something’s going to happen to them. They don’t want to turn around and help someone else because they’re afraid that they’ll be heartbroken. They don’t want to love someone else because they know that the love will be lost because that’s what happens, loves are lost. They protect their hearts from heartbreak and in so doing, they lose all of these things that you and I have been talking about. They lose the chance and opportunity, and it’s a regrettable life.
As I said, I play a lot of football in my mind and I believe that whether you want to play the game or not, we’re designed to play, score, get on the field, take a few hits, get back up, evolve and to get better. Life in and of itself is the teacher. It is the experience maker and it allows us to grow to experience pain in order to enjoy the joy, to fall in order to understand what it means to get back up, to get hurt to understand what it means to be pain-free. It allows us to do certain things so that we can truly feel and experience all the goodness that there is in life. You can’t grow a tree without first putting it in the ground. It has to go into the ground.
You can’t escape the process. I don’t care what you do because a lot of people that never play. They never get on the field. At the end of their lives, they have regrets that they wished they would’ve gotten on the field. There’s some joy in spectating and watching but it’s not the same as if you’re out there on the field, living at your best, and giving it your best. As you started off with, you talked about when you were a defense attorney and how much you loved it. Now, you have a desk job but you have that story to tell.
To go back to what you said, you can be a spectator but if you do that your whole life, you’re going to give up the knowledge and experience of what it means to be alive. You can do it, but you will be sorry that you did not have the chance to experience and know what it means to be alive. That’s what we’re all after. We want to know we’re alive.
End of life, everyone has a designation, a lane. Enjoy the mystery and the journey of discovering your lane. After discovery, cultivating your lane. It’s like taking care of a garden. You have to get the weeds out. You’ve got to make sure the soil is proper in order to grow the plant that you want to crop. You’ve got to nurture and take care of it. You’ve got to know how much water and sun. You’re the same way as an individual. You’re dealing with all the elements. That’s the one thing you can’t change the environment that you’re in, but it doesn’t mean you can’t grow the crop. You’ve got to figure out how to nourish the ground and till the land and do everything that you need to do to the land in that condition in order to grow the crop. It could mean that you can’t grow this certain crop, that’s knowledge and experience. “I can’t grow that but I’m going to do this. This is my lane,” and that’s life. That’s a beautiful analogy.
I agree. Amen.
How can people connect with you, Shawn? We haven’t talked about chocolate. We haven’t talked about meaningful work.
We did.If you want to find yourself, lose yourself in the service of others. Click To Tweet
We talk about staying in our lanes and you’ve written the book about meaningful work. What do you mean by meaningful work?
What we’ve been talking about, that’s the thing. You said we didn’t talk, we did. It’s everything we’ve talked about. This is meaningful work. I’d replay the tape to answer your question. This is it. It’s knowing that you’re alive. It’s finding ways at work to experience joy and connection. Is there a way that I can have a job, work, have the opportunity to turn around and offer my hand to someone or someone offering their hand to me? Can that happen at work? Yes, and that’s possible. I’ve written this book about not just my experience going from a criminal defense lawyer to chocolate maker, but how someone might read this story and see themselves in it. It’s a story of sorrow and sadness, but it’s also a story of how sorrow and sadness are the birthplaces of joy.
Where can people find this book if they wanted to purchase it?
They can find it online, googling Meaningful Work and my name Shawn Askinosie. You can find it in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, places like that. My website is Askinosie.com. They can learn all about my chocolate company, our little family business, how we buy from farmers around the world directly, and share profits with them. The School Lunch Program, they can find that out there. I’ve got a blog at ShawnAskinosie.com. My email is on that website. I look forward to hearing from people and having conversations.
Shawn, people that are reading this, I’m sure they’re enjoying this conversation. It’s been a good conversation, and I feel that a question coming out of just reading this is how do you find your lane, vocation, or calling? What would you say is something that people can do in order to find that purpose even in the middle of a pandemic? How do we find that?
I did a TED Talk and this is exactly what I said. I used the exact same word that you used and have used throughout this conversation, lane. The answer to this is by examining your own life in your own sorrow and then finding someone in your world that you can serve out of the place where you were in sorrow and sadness. I say it’s in the same lane as your pain. I would encourage people to think about that. You’re not going to find the answer in Google. You want to find it in my book. Don’t ask Google. It’s not there. I gave a talk at Google and said the exact same thing, “You’re not going to find the answer in Google, I’m sorry.”
People need to examine their sorrow and heartbreak and then look around. It’s not all if they were to look around. Do I know somebody? My friend, family member, group, and somebody in my neighborhood. Can I roll up my sleeves and serve someone who needs me out of the place where my pain was born? That’s what I’m saying, the same lane is our pain. If you can find a place of service that’s in that lane that was your lane, it’s always been your lane. Can you find that that is going to be in the midst of that work is where you will find the greatest clarity of your life where you can receive messages? It could be from a billboard, a friend, your faith, your religion, in prayer, in meditation, but it won’t be in Google and it’s not going to be on Facebook. I’m saying that this is the mystery. Gandhi said, “If you want to find yourself, lose yourself in the service of others.” This is what I’m talking about but with a more specific thing that it’s in the same lane as your pain.
Shawn, before we end the show, how can people bounce back from adversity, dominate challenges, and consistently win at the game of life?
Two words, “Don’t wait.” You have all the excuses in front of you right now. You have every excuse that we’ve had in the last hundred years but right now, 40 million people are unemployed, COVID, and social unrest. I am saying these two words. I’m begging you, don’t wait. It sounds simple but I’m asking you, please roll up your sleeves even if you don’t feel it, you’re tired and afraid. Please, don’t wait. If it’s about starting a new business, renewing friendship, getting new friends, don’t wait, please.
Shawn Askinosie on the Game Changer Mentality Podcast. Thank you for coming. This has been an awesome conversation and your chocolate is amazing.
Thank you, Rodney. I hope you can come and visit me in Springfield, Missouri someday when all this is behind us and tour on my chocolate factory. I’d love it.
I would love to. I’ll definitely hit you up on that invite. Wait until this is over.
There you have it, folks. It’s another successful episode. The time is now. I love my mentor. He says, “There is no better time than the present,” but we cannot wait. That idea, that nudge you have in your heart, the thing that you know you’ve been wanting to do all your life, the phone call you’ve been wanting to make, relationship you’ve been wanting to start, the one you’ve been wanting to end, whatever it is. If you’re feeling that calling, you have to realize you have meaningful work to do. In order to be the game-changer that you are called to be, you have to do the work that you are called to do. I challenge you and I need you. You’re that dot that’s next to me, to Shawn, to the next guy, and the next guy that’s doing meaningful work. We need you. The world needs you. Let’s get that work done so that we can change the game. Until next time, peace and love.
- Man’s Search for Meaning
- Meaningful Work
- Barnes & Noble – Meaningful Work
- TED Talk – Find Your Calling Where It Hurts
About Shawn Askinosie
In 2006, Shawn Askinosie left a successful career as a criminal defense lawyer to start a bean to bar chocolate factory and never looked back. His company, Askinosie Chocolate, was recently named by Forbes “One of the 25 Best Small Companies in America.” So far the company has provided over a million school lunches to malnourished children in Tanzania and the Philippines, without any donations. Founded at the forefront of the American craft chocolate revolution and regarded by many as a vanguard in the industry, Shawn was named by O, The Oprah Magazine “One of 15 Guys Who Are Saving the World.”
Shawn’s book, co-written with his daughter, Lawren, published by Penguin Random House titled “Meaningful Work: The Quest To Do Great Business, Find Your Calling, and Feed Your Soul” is an Amazon #1 bestseller. He is a Family Brother at Assumption Abbey, a Trappist monastery near Ava, Missouri and the co-founder of Lost & Found, a grief center now in its 20th year serving children and families in Southwest Missouri.
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