As I set up my calendar for the month, I select a quote I’ve found that speaks to me. I write it in my planner and leave space below it to capture phrases I hear or read that speak to me and relate to the quote. I found this practice centers me for the month, and helps me be more present in my conversations, meetings, and readings. For May 2022 the quote was, “When you’re nervous about stepping outside your comfort zone, remind yourself: It feels scary because it’s unfamiliar, not because I’m incapable.”
One of the great ironies of my career, is that it centers on storytelling to help people to understand something new and act on it. From advocacy to wear a seatbelt and not drink and drive to large organization transformations and technology implementations. Yet, I love habits. I even wrap my habits up like a gift and call them traditions. I pass on my habits through leadership, management, and mentoring – disguising my idiosyncrasies as “best practice.” It seems that if I’m not championing change for a client, I’m a last adopter.
With a quote about “stepping outside your comfort zone,” here are quotes that caught my attention in May:
- If you have an opportunity to be quiet and present, take it
- Wishing you unexpected wonders
- Receive a person
- A ton of feathers still weights a ton
- I don’t care what you think. I care about what you do and say.
- What would you do if you were brave?
- Radical acceptance of my being
- Non-promotable task
- Activation of my curiosity and the subsequent opening of my perspective that allows energy to flow in
- Every adult can benefit from a thinking partner
- Make hard decisions
- The symbolic meaning of eye contact, of putting aside what we are doing to connect, lies in the respect, care, even love it indicates
- Everybody is who they are
- Sacred space
- Memories are deathless and precise
- What is in your control to do now?
- Multi-taskers are suckers for irrelevancy
- Become a witness to your body
- Never be afraid to try something new – remember, amateurs build the Ark…professionals build the Titanic
- Sit with it
To me, dropping into COVID lock down was easy because there wasn’t much of a choice. The change was truly life or death. Emerging out of it, is a whole other scenario. All the choices. All the gray space. All the longing. All the ingrained habits driven by two years of fear. All the opportunities. All the desire to bust free.
I feel like I have two change angels on my shoulder. One that whispers, “Stay where you are, be safe, be comfy.” The other, “Don’t miss out. Live large and make up for time and memories lost.” Both feel good. The challenge is when to listen to which one. When do I need to step into the boldness of new? When do I need to move out of a rut? When do I need to challenge my beliefs that limit my potential? When do I need hold tight and move slowly? When do I need to reserve my energy in a safe space?
While catching up with a friend last week, we talked about change and each shared at what age we felt our most empowered. She talked about her 18 year-old self. I mentioned 13. Since our talk, I’ve thought about my answer of 13. Really? All gangly, self-conscious, hormonal? But then I recalled my fierce, stubborn, “do it anyway” streak. I had a brazen energy like molten lava beneath it all. I think that over time some of that lava has cooled… some of the lava is buried farther down as layers of protection built up… sometimes I might even fear what that lava could do to disrupt my safe habits. But, when I “sit with it” (the change I seek or the change I fear), the lava stirs, and I like it.
To keep my lava flowing and position myself to change, I:
- Have standing chats on my calendar with a handful of women who stir my lava, ask meaningful questions, and inspire me to grow
- Spend time outside, from a new workspace on my back porch to morning walks
- Avoid the “all or nothing” trap
- Read others’ stories and learn new approaches
- Write down the change to get it out of the “circle of stupid” in my head as a client once called it, and into a format I can more logically think through without the emotional noise
- Try to avoid comparison … comparison and the emotion of “not enough” are joy killers
- Pick a few small things to start with, like a warm-up for bigger change
- Accept there will be setbacks and surprises, and both are OK
- Get a coach to support the harder work, from a personal trainer to an executive coach
- End my day with meditation
- Start over, constantly
I leave you with a tweet from @OliveFSmith: “I always love it when people say, ‘baby steps!’ to imply they’re being tentative, when actually baby steps are a great unbalanced, wholehearted, enthusiastic lurch into the unknown.”
So, take that bold baby step. Because at the end of day, you always have the power to change direction.