I don’t know if it was ever a deliberate decision, but at some point a while back I started acting like the best way to pursue life was to head straight in the direction of things that scare me. I’m not sure if it’s because my competitive nature kicks in and I somehow know that I’ll only get better, go further and do more if I knock my fears on the head or if something more subtle within me just wants to conquer that which seems to be conquering me.
It’s like running. I hate it, loathe it even – every part of it, but that feeling you get when you arrive back at your front door and know that you’ve just made yourself do something you didn’t want to do is GREAT. Self-righteous really ;-) …a fairly trivial example for sure, but there’s something that feels good and right about overcoming yourself and taking action anyway.
Most evenings I lie in bed and run through the following day in my mind. In the more challenging weeks I reflect on what’s ahead with a little fear if I’m honest, “am I going to be able to handle this?”, “what if I do the wrong thing?”, or worse, “what if I don’t know what to do?”, “what if all this is bigger than me?”, “what if people think I’ve failed?”, the thoughts just circulate.
Miller talks about conflict in life as something that is inherently necessary to produce growth, depth, or a story of any kind. He says that conflict isn’t supposed to make us doubt ourselves, doubt whether we’re loved or valued or whether we belong. We’re just supposed to be encouraged to press into it, keep moving forward, hit it face on, embrace it. The conflict will create the story – and I want to live a good story.
So something switches in my head somewhere along the thought process – and as I go to sleep tonight I’m slightly more aware of it – those things may all be true; I may get it wrong, it may be too big for me, people might think I’ve failed…but I won’t know unless I show up and give it a shot. If it goes wrong I’m sure there’ll be some great learning for next time and there’s also the possibility that it’ll go right and perhaps something great will be achieved.
I was thinking back over the last year and a half and reflecting on the immense amount I’ve learnt in that time. It’s been the steepest learning curve and the most stretching and developing time of my career…and that’s because its been tough, its been challenging and I’ve got stuff wrong and decided to keep going anyway (as if there were any other choice). It seems the more something scares me the more enticed I’ve become to lean into it (I’m sure there’s a balance to be struck at some point?!). My biggest fear is usually failure and there’s nothing like leading a team of people and a big new project to put your failures on show to others. So it’s been a time to face into that and to not let the fear get the better of me. At times I’ve grown tired of the constant learning curve, but in truth I wouldn’t swap it for anything. I’m learning that my value doesn’t come from my ability to achieve and succeed in life, and while I need to make the most of my opportunities I know that I am not defined by their success or failure.
I’ve learnt (or am learning) that growth really doesn’t come all that easily, but if I want to continue to grow I’m going to need to continue to make myself uncomfortable, because comfortable – it seems to me – is the enemy of great stories.