Thursday, May 8

The courage to do and do well

A lot has happened since my last post. Including this:

surprise! (followed by "let's party!")

I'll get to that another day. Let me just say it was the Best Birthday Ever. Capitalized, bold, and italics for emphasis. Turning 40 was a week-long event filled with great fun, great family, great friends.

But first.

My head is swimming. I just returned from a learning + development conference in Washington DC, and am insanely inspired to make some great things happen both at work and at home. I can't get the ideas down on paper fast enough, am struggling to narrow them down to workable opportunities, and am - in the meantime - trying to get back to a routine that includes not eating 3,000 amazing, decadent calories a day, finding out which bills are due, and keeping up with the end-of-the-school-year rush that is concerts, meetings, open houses, teacher gifts, and any number of hamster wheel-like activities that fill my day.

But I digress.

One thing I did learn at the conference that will be sticking with me for a very long time? Courage. This theme appeared again and again, and I'm not sure the word was actually used in the descriptions of the classes I attended, but it was there. Over and over. Anyone doing anything dynamic in their organization is doing so because they have the courage to start, the courage to fail, and the courage to be different.

Is this not true for anything we do in life?

The courage to walk into that church for the first time in 20 years. The courage to tell a long-time friend some real truth. The courage to start a business. The courage to try a new exercise or diet.

The courage to put yourself out there.

first-hand lessons in courage and leadership this week.

The courage to believe that failure equals opportunity. I believe Disney calls this "successful failures."

The boldness and bravery to be different when no one else understands. (Maybe that should be a benchmark for going for it??)

The irony is that this could not have been more obvious this morning, when my daughter struggled to find a suitable pair of pajamas to wear for pajama day in her class that would be deemed acceptable or that she wouldn't be criticized for wearing by her peers. That was her perception, anyway. How quickly we believe that we are being judged. How quickly we learn to let it get to us. I am guilty of leading by example in this case. And equally sad is that I have probably been her harshest critic over the years.

We are all a work in progress, are we not?

My favorite conference speaker shared a story of traveling with her children internationally. The first time they watched a new custom together in a European country, her son quietly told her that what he was watching was "weird." She kindly told him that if he was going to keep traveling with her, he needed to use the word "different" instead of weird. Weird implies that there's a right way and a wrong way. And in many cases, this isn't always true, is it?

It takes courage to believe that.

If I can wish anything for my children, coworkers, friends, right now it's that they are - you are - we are bold. That we listen to that quiet, but persistent voice in our head that leads us along a strange, but promising path, and that we take it. Tentatively at first, but that we take it.

So where are you being led these days?