I, like many others, am a work in progress and I try to get better and better each day. One of my core values is that I try to leave people a bit better off for knowing me — whether it be from a smile, a kind word, or a shoulder to lean on. I want to make a difference in this world and I often hope that I can be the pebble that spreads ripples of joy to those around me. All in all, I am extremely happy with the woman I have become and I am pretty comfortable in my own skin. I am honestly one of the most selfless and loving individuals that I know. I give for the sake of giving. I consider myself a devoted friend, a phenomenal mother and wife, and a woman of integrity who possesses tremendous strength. But I do have one identifiable flaw that I am trying to work on each and every day: I rarely like to step out of my comfort zone (and I typically do whatever I can to ensure I don’t have to be on the brink of feeling anxious and unnerved).
I’ve spent a large portion of my adult life doing things that were “comfortable” and “safe.” I’ve stayed in safe careers and held onto safe relationships. I’m not exactly sure of the pivotal moment where this confident, self-assured girl turned into a woman who became a bit more timid and afraid of rejection. Maybe it’s a natural progression on the bumpy road from adolescence to adulthood. Maybe when there is more at stake, we take the easy way out and gambling with our emotions and our self-esteem is no longer as much of an option. Maybe we just make lots and lots of excuses in order to protect ourselves. Maybe it’s a combination of all of the above.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve been taking baby steps to improve myself and conquer my fears. Self-development has become a really important part of my life and I seek out information and soak it up like a sponge. As a result, I quit a safe job to launch my own business. I faced my fear of public speaking head-on and I now run meetings and speak at seminars. But, I consistently let my own self- doubt hold me back from reaching that next level.
Sometimes, you come across people on your path who inspire you to be bigger, badder, bolder. They push you to step just outside your comfort zone, or if you will let them, they encourage you to catapult over it. They become your champions, your muse, and your voice of reassurance. They help you to realize once again that you are more invincible than you give yourself credit for. “I could never do that” is not a part of their vocabulary. I spent the day with one of those people today and she taught me a lot of lessons without ever saying a word. I am grateful for that!
Today, sweaty palms and heart aflutter, I catapulted out of my comfort zone. And, you know what? In retrospect, it wasn’t that horrible. It was something I knew deep down inside I had to do eventually, but had yet mustered the courage to attempt. It was a step I had to take in order to become the leader I aspire to be. As I design my destiny, it was a growth step that desperately needed to be taken. It was scary and it took me a while to muster the courage, but I did it. And I feel so inspired and exhilarated as a result!
What is it, you ask? Did I jump out of a plane? Did I walk over hot coals? Did I run for elected office? Will I be appearing on a reality tv show? No, none of the above. All I did was to willingly step into unguarded water. All I did was talk to strangers. I engaged with people on a more personal level — I struck up conversations with people I would never normally have the courage to talk to. I put myself out there, I made myself vulnerable, and I asked these strangers questions that I knew might prompt them to say no to me. And, holy crap, that was scary — probably scarier for me than I can ever convey in a blog post. Because I don’t think there is a person on the planet who actually likes being rejected. Rejection is a really difficult pill to swallow, and it can chip away at your self-esteem if you let it. But, I did it. And, you know what the funny thing is? I heard no’s. And some people looked at me funny. And some were borderline rude. But, as a result of me putting myself out there and rising to a self-imposed challenge, I feel more confident than ever.
My goal for today was to get 50 people to say no to me in 4 hours. In doing that, I would have to talk to a LOT of people. I would have to be REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE. And, I was going to have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable in order to succeed. It took me a while to get going. I made excuses. I talked myself out of it. I psyched myself out. Then I realized I only had 3 hours left and I hadn’t spoken to a single person. I let my fear eat up one whole hour of my day. I was failing before I even began by cheating myself out of this opportunity. I knew I had to get my act together, to just make that first move. So, I did. I struck up that dreaded first conversation. And, lo and behold, it wasn’t that bad. I actually got a “yes.” Which, in the reverse psychology of my mission today, was what I was hoping for all along. I knew, deep down inside, that the no’s would also lead me to the yes’s. That first conversation lead to a second conversation, then a third. All tolled, I ended up with 16 conversations, 7 no and 9 yes. I was 43 no’s shy of my goal, but I look at the day as a massive victory!! Today, with a respected colleague at my side, I became bigger, badder, and bolder. I found my voice in a way that had been missing for longer than I care to remember.
I drove home with a renewed sense of confidence and an exuberant feeling of having done something amazing for myself. It was kind of like that first time you ride a bike without training wheels. I finally realized that, in many ways, my fear has stifled my success. The worst-case-scenario was in no way bad enough for me to continue to make excuses. The worst thing that happened today was that I heard the words “no thank you” a few times. The best thing that happened was that I woke up a sleeping giant within me. I catapulted myself a little bit closer to my goals and dreams. That gargantuan fear of rejection that I had been lugging around for so long became an ant. And, I squished that silly little ant under my shoe. Without the weight of that fear holding me down, I felt free to soar!
My point in sharing this story is because I want you to face your fears. I want you to believe in yourself. Do something that scares you and go boldly in a direction that you haven’t gone yet. I want you to stop selling yourself short with excuses. I want you to be as awesome as I know you can be. I want you to feel as amazing as I did when I drove home today. I want you to be your best self and to never let anyone tell you that you can’t (let alone yourself). I want you to live a life you have always imagined you could. And, I want you to find and surround yourself with people who inspire you to be bigger, badder, and bolder. Because the world rewards boldness and I know you have lots of incredible gifts to share!
Make it a great day! Much Love, Jenn