Three Lessons for Asking for and Getting What You Want
Simplified to the Point Version:
Living in Albania, a country that does not serve chai tea lattes anywhere, I longed for my favorite drink. In talking about how much I missed chai tea lattes to different people I met, I finally found someone who introduced me to salep, a drink that is similar to a chai tea latte. After almost a year of longing for chai tea lattes, I had my first cup of salep; and, for a moment, felt pure joy.
In this joyful moment of sipping my cup of salep, I realized three lessons for life and business:
Lesson 1: When we go beyond names and labels, we find connection and solutions.
Lesson 2: Ask for support — even when you do not know exactly what it is you need.
Lesson 3: Have mindful conversations with different people and eventually you will find the people, the support, or the solutions you need.
Life is full of moments that bring us joy and insight; life is full of SILVER LINING MOMENTS.
Extended Meandering Version (for those who enjoy the meandering journeys in everyday life):
I love chai tea lattes. It’s not just the drink itself; chai tea lattes are my drink version of the beach. They both match whatever my emotional needs are in the moment.
When I go to the beach, if I am tired, the waves energize me. If I am stressed and overworked, the wet sand by the shoreline grounds me. If I am sad, the crystal specs of sand dancing under the sun lighten my soul. If I am lonely, I am immersed in the interconnectedness of the waves, sand, and crystal specs on my shore being a part of the waves, sands, and crystal specs on the shores across the ocean. If I am happy, I feel the joy of the sunshine. In whatever emotional shape I am in when I go to the ocean, the ocean welcomes me just as I am.
Well, chai tea lattes are all that in a drink form. It’s my comforting, calming, energizing, focusing, productive, relaxing, connecting feel good drink. And, in the last year, I had to go without them.
For the past year, I have been living in Tirana, Albania. In addition to being the capital of Albania, Tirana could be considered the capital of cozy and charming cafés. However, none of them offer chai tea lattes or tea lattes of any kind. Coffee of all kinds abounds but, alas, no tea lattes. If you ask for a tea latte, the server responds with a confused look and you get a single tea bag, and in most places, an espresso-size shot cup of hot water.
Here, I was in a city with charming café after café filled with people holding their espressos, cappuccinos, coffees in their hands and wearing smiles of contentment on their faces. For me, going to a café, something I love to do, was now accompanied with disappointment — settling for something that just didn’t cut it — a small cup of hot tea was not as satisfying as a chai tea latte.
In the past year, I searched and searched for chai tea lattes. One morning, I saw it “chai tea latte” on the menu. I was beyond excitement; it was as if in that moment all was well in the world. When I ordered by pointing to it on the menu, the server did not know what it was and explained that they did not have it. Disappointment settled in again.
So, I learned how to make my own. Adrienne from Yoga with Adrienne had a video showing how she made chai tea latte. Peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, and black tea. I followed her recipe. I made my own chai tea latte with water and then added some soymilk to my cup at the end. It was good but it didn’t quite have the full latte feeling.
One of my husband’s former co-workers is a fellow tea latte drinker living in the land of coffee. One evening, I was talking to him about my love for chai tea lattes but explained how I cannot quite get it right with my homemade version. He asked — have you tried putting the soy milk in the pot as you boil and then simmer everything? Ah, so simple! I did it. And, yes — it has the chai tea latte feeling. Now, I make a big pot once a week and fill jars to take out during the week.
But, I still missed enjoying my chai tea lattes at the cafés.
A few weeks later, my husband and I were having drinks with another friend. During the course of the night, my love and quest for chai tea lattes came up. Our friend wasn’t familiar with chai tea lattes and she asked me what was in it. After I shared the ingredients (black peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, black tea and milk/soymilk), she said that it sounded like a drink that one of her local Albanian friends had the last time they went out. She messaged that friend and he said that the drink he had was called salep.
The next day, I went to one of my favorite cafés and ordered salep. It was not on the menu but the server knew exactly what I wanted. Yes, they had it. When he served the salep, I looked at it with a bit of anticipation. It’s thicker than a chai tea latte. It’s so thick that they serve it with a small spoon. It tastes a little different but that cozy, calming, energizing, interconnectedness, the whole “feel good” feeling thing — it had!
The morning I wrote the first draft f this article, I was at Café Botanica, one my favorite café spots. It is in front of the Opera and overlooks Skanderbeg Square, which is in the center of Tirana. You can hear music in the distance and people-watch galore. I love the energy in this square. I was sitting at my table and drinking my cup of salep.
And, for a moment, as I was drinking my salep, I felt pure joy. Personally, I have been struggling a bit financially and feeling uncertain on how I can keep nourishing Silver Lining Moments. I have been in “scrounger mode” — searching for and chasing ways to earn more, and in doing so, being pulled in too many directions. I was working morning to night without feeling like I was getting ahead. For everything I checked off my to-do list, three more items were added. All of this has zapped my creativity while pulling my energy to a lower vibration.
However, in this moment of sipping my salep, I feel calm and happy. I felt joy. The simple joy I felt is a Silver Lining Moment in and of itself. In this moment, the financial fears and creative doubts went away. It is true what they say — you cannot hold fear and love at the same time. In the joy of salep, I felt love for life. In this loving energy, I didn’t see obstacles ahead of me; I saw possibilities and opportunities.
As I was smiling at the cup of salep, I decided to write about it in my journal. This is what I wrote:
It’s not that you don’t have what you need; you just don’t see it. It’s already there, you just have to know what to ask for. If you don’t know what to ask for, describe it to others the best you can and they may know what it is you are seeking — it will come to you.
This got me thinking. There are some life and business lessons in this moment.
Lesson Number 1: When we go beyond names and labels, we find connection and solutions.
After a year of longing for chai tea lattes and talking to several people about it, I finally found a person who responded with curiosity. In her curiosity, we got beyond the name (or label) of the drink and talked about the substance of the drink itself. In this space, she could relate with what I was looking for and responded with a simple: “Oh, that sounds like what my friend got. Let me find out for you.” If we had stuck to the name or label, chai tea latte, she would not have connected it to what her friend had and would not have been able to suggest salep to me.
Lesson Number 2: Ask for support — even when you do not know exactly what it is you need.
Thinking about this I realized that sometimes (okay, most times), I hold myself back from asking for support until I am very clear on what exactly it is that I want or how to ask for it in precise terms. A lot of times, I struggle in finding this level of clarity. I know I am missing something but I don’t know what it is to ask for it. I will have a vague idea or feeling of what I want or need but I struggle in identifying it clearly in words. I have listened to many people on how to manifest in your life and they all say to have very clear vision of what it is you want to manifest. However, many times, I don’t have this crystal clear vision or I don’t know the actual words to identify the “thing” that I am missing or that I need. This means that I often don’t ask for support but keep toiling on my own and doubting my ability to manifest the life of my dreams because I don’t have this clarity. I recall all the advice about creating and manifesting I have heard and read over the years that says we must trust that what we visualize will manifest. Lack of crystal clear clarity combined with doubt often leads me to working harder, going nowhere, and feeling stuck.
But — this whole chai tea latte/salep experience had me question — am I placing the bar too high on the whole clarity thing?
I had never heard of salep; I didn’t know that it existed or what it was. In most places, it is not even on the menu. Either you know about salep or you don’t. Without knowing about it, how could I ask for it? Sharing what I did know — that I was longing for chai tea lattes and the ingredients for chai tea lattes — led to the discovery of what I didn’t know — salep. Once I knew about it, I could ask for it. I could satisfy my chai tea latte longing at any and every café in Tirana. Salep and the satisfying feeling I get from chai tea lattes were literally all around me, all along.
Lesson Number 3: Have mindful conversations with different people and eventually you will find the people, the support, or the solutions you need.
It took a year of talking to different people about my longing for chai tea latte before the conversation fell upon someone who could offer a solution. Had I become frustrated and just stopped talking about chai tea lattes, I would never have discovered salep. Sometimes, we have to ask multiple people for help before we find someone who can. And, that’s okay.
Now, how do I do this — being persistent without being a pest?
In both conversations about my longing for chai tea lattes– the one about adding soymilk and the other about salep, I was not editing my answers or quickly redirecting the conversation to someone or something else. I was engaged in their questions and honest with my answers. I was fully present in these conversations, without judgment or expectations. I was having these conversations with mindfulness.
For me, there is something about living in a foreign country that fosters mindfulness. Your world is shaken up just enough that even the most routine and familiar things are not routine and are not familiar. The lack of routine and familiarity makes you more aware of everything as it happens and you let go of expectations. For instance, finding all the ingredients for a recipe you want to make quickly turns into an adventure as you traverse across town to different shops and find yourself communicating with words, pictures, body language and gestures. In this adventure, you may not have found every ingredient and had to let go of the idea of making that recipe but you discovered a new friendly face at a new favorite shop in your new foreign city. You live in the present moment, without judgment and without expectations, more often than at home.
This carries over into conversations with the people you meet. While living abroad, when I met others, I simply met them. I wasn’t thinking how they may lead to business development and I wasn’t trying to “instill their confidence in me”, as one partner told me to do when I was a young associate. I wasn’t worried how they may affect my career or how I may affect theirs. I was simply meeting hem — in the present moment.
Being in the present moment, I was able to hear when they were genuinely interested in my Tirana experience as I was genuinely interested in their experiences. As we shared our experiences of living in a foreign country and what we missed from our respective home countries, we were forming our own shared experience in the present moment. I may not miss the sausage rolls and fish and chips like my British friends but I know what it’s like to miss your favorite food — or in my case — drink. We connected in the shared feeling, not the shared thing.
In this connection, I could be my authentic self. So, when asked how I liked Tirana, I didn’t give a rose-colored answered of everything being great. Instead, I said “Yes, I like living in Tirana but I really miss Starbucks chai tea lattes.” Okay, I may have gone on and on about how much I missed my chai tea lattes and how I found it incredibly frustrating to be surrounded by quaint and charming cafes without having anything to order as my friends enjoyed their cappuccinos and coffees. I was not worried about sounding petty in my frustration. If I was worried about what they would think, I would not have shared this chai tea latte longing. And, if I was too attached to Starbucks chai tea lattes, I would have dismissed their suggestions. If judgment and attachment were present in these conversations, I would not have discovered salep!
I didn’t go around begging and pleading for people to help me find chai tea lattes in Tirana. The solution to my chai tea longing came from simply being mindful in the conversations that I had. In these conversations, I was open, I let go of judgment and expectations, and I heard one of the most beautiful words to my chai -tea-longing soul’s ears: “salep”.
How can I apply this business with Silver Lining Moments? I will practice mindfulness in my conversations. Being in the present moment, I can hear when someone is genuinely interested in what I am doing with Silver Lining Moments and how it’s all going. I can meet such interest with generous assumptions, as Brené Brown describes in her TED Talk on BRAVING, for them and for me.
For them, I will give them the generous assumption that their questions are coming from a place of genuine interest in, and support for, what I am doing. For me, I will give myself the generous assumption that there is value in what I am doing with Silver Lining Moments and with me doing it. Meaning, I will answer their questions just like I answered the questions about how I liked Tirana — authentically and with vulnerability. And, this means not making some self-deprecating joke or dismissive downplaying response about what I am doing, which I so often do (no, did) because I was afraid others would think I was silly or a naive Pollyanna.
Conversations with mindfulness center me in the present moment. And, as my conversations with new friends in Tirana have shown me, in the present moment, there is no space for judgments, fear, agenda, insecurities. When these are absent, a space opens up for authenticity and genuine connections. And, when these — authenticity and connection — show up serendipitous possibilities, support, and solutions follow.
So, how can I be persistent without being a pest? Mindfulness. With mindful conversations, I can be persistent in my authentic expressions of my vision for Silver Lining Moments without being a pest and the solutions will come.
All these lessons and insights from a joyful moment of sipping a cup of salep? Yes, of course! Life is full of moments that bring us joy and insights.
Life is full of SILVER LINING MOMENTS — — even in a cup of salep.
In the joy and the life lessons from sipping a cup of salep, I discovered how a moment of CHAI TEA LATTE LONGING was lined by SALEP SATISFACTION.
Before this website, I posted articles and blogs on LinkedIn. You can check out my previous articles and blogs here.