green and gold and measuring up...

last week , i received this email from starbucks.
it looks innocent enough, right?

but the emotions that it immediately stirred up inside me weren't as benign.

my level "dipped"...
i needed to earn so many stars within a certain amount of time to maintain my "gold level"...
and, quite obviously, i didn't earn those stars.

flash back to elementary school and earning stars for my "star chart"...
red, blue, green, silver...
but the only way to earn a big gold star was to score a 100% on a test.
i had plenty of red and blue and green and silver...and yes, even big, shiny, gold stars back in my day.

but that same punch-in-the-gut of disappointment that i felt, way back then, when i saw a big red 90% or 94% or--most dreaded of all--99%--that same disappointment is what i felt when i received this email.
i didn't do well enough.
i fell short.
i disappointed myself.

for about 47 seconds.

and then, i thought about it.
how utterly silly this is.
let me break this down for you...
in one year's time, if i buy five drinks {for simplicity's sake, let's just assume my drinks are of the uncomplicated sort--which they never are--and cost $2 each--which they never do}, that entitles me to all the "privileges" of "green level" status.
in one year's time, if i buy thirty{!!!} drinks, that entitles me to all the "privileges" of "gold level" status.
easy.  spend ten-ish-dollars within a year {but more}.  
earn "green level."
not quite so easy.  spend sixty-ish-dollars within a year {but more}. 
earn "gold level."

oh, but gold level gets a free birthday drink or treat.
so does green.
oh, but gold level gets a birthday coupon for 15% off online.
so does green.
oh, but gold level gets custom offers via email.
so does green.
oh, but gold level gets free in-store refills on tea or coffee.
so does green.

what then, you may ask, is the grand difference between the gold and green rewards levels?
well, if you earn gold level, you get a shiny gold card with your name on it.
no credit on it.  no free drinks already linked up to it.
your name.  your name is on it.  that's it.
and if you earn an additional twelve stars {read spend an additional $24 on top of the $60 you already spent}...
if you earn those additional twelve stars, then you get another free drink.

i could break the math all down for you, but it doesn't take a genius to see that it's $74+ out of pocket before you see any difference between green level and gold level. 

here's the thing...
i don't fault starbucks at all.
this is clever marketing, if ever i did see it.
"spend money with us, so you can earn a card that will help you remember to spend more money with us."

the fault lies in me.
in my thinking, my reasoning, my equating a dipping rewards level with lower-than-hoped-for grades.
and then i wonder, how many things on a daily basis do we allow to tell us that we don't quite measure up?  
that we didn't try quite hard enough?  
that we almost earned that "special" privilege...but we fell short?
and really, in the end, if we dissect the matter, we find that we are actually better off without that proverbial gold star {money ahead in the starbucks example}.

here's where i tie this all up with a shiny gold bow...
or top it with a shiny gold star {wink, wink}...
here's where i tell you that you are good enough...
that you do measure up...
that you did try hard enough.
but the fact of the matter is, i can't do that.
what i can tell you, though, is this...
be certain that the scale of "good enough or not" is worth being on in the first place.
be sure that "measuring up" is worth the stretch, worth the reach.
and be positive that what you're trying for is worth all the effort.

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