Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Last year I made a commitment to Try New Things. I even named my Twitter account Try New Things! So 18 months later...did I try new things? Yes and no. At first I would make sure to try something new every day. I would plan a new thing to do every day. A new recipe, a new wine, a new route to work, a new sport. The goal was to shake up my world a little and change the way I saw that world.
Then life got in way and at the end of each day I would look back and review the day hoping I could find one thing new that I did that day. Then I would rationalize small events to suggest that I had done them differently and therefore I had done something new. The task of explaining it all to myself became the exercise. Instead of the renewed excitement I experienced when I actually did do something new.
Starting the business became a huge challenge and every step of the way I was trying something new. Bringing the product in from China was one challenge after another and although I enjoyed the learning, I was in over my head and I could not truly feel that simple joy of trying new things. Now we are learning new software, working with the hand collating plant and learning how to work with a new sales force. So every day there really is something new to learn and we learn as we go. It turns out there are many people who are willing to help or offer expertise just when I think I have reached an impasse. And so we move forward every day. Brian Tracy says that persistence is when you keep going after the shine of the new idea wears off. This is definitely that.
So maybe I am trying new things every day. They are small one foot in front of the other steps towards creating and selling the product. A friend told me I was one of the 10 most amazing people she knows. I am humbled by that compliment. I am ordinary but mighty. She made me stand a little taller. I saw myself in a different light. The light of an observer who does not see the anxieties and fears of my undertaking. It makes me realize that it is true that those who do, do so despite their fears.
The samples arrived from China today and I was struck by just how amazing it looked. For a moment I was back in the shiny new idea place. It reinforced the idea in my mind and let me see the big picture again.
Click on the image to watch the illusion!
Saturday, May 22, 2010
It is interesting that when we try new things it encourages us to try more new things. It gains a momentum all it's own. That first step out of the inertia of your comfort zone/anti-anxiety zone is the one that seems the hardest to take. Schedule it. Define it. Then do it at the specified time. I am going to do ____ (small goal) by _____ .(date)It is that simple.
I had fallen off my fitness schedule. In all his innocence my teenage son said why don't you just go to the gym. Hmmmmm. My mind was full of reasons but none of them strong enough to counter my son's inadvertent wisdom. I said to him I will go tomorrow and he said tomorrow you will have this social event(he named it) get in the way. You want to be strong for the summer he said. He is right on all counts. I went to the gym.
The first step behind you. The next one invites you. Now that you are out of your comfort zone that second step seems not as hard as the first. Your comfort zone has readjusted it's perimeter to become a larger circle. The first step accomplished invigorates you to look for step two. To set the second day and make it happen. Day by day your small achievements sum to an increasingly larger achievement. When you are successful it breeds a confidence that encourages you to push your limits in other areas of you life. Yesterday I blogged about achieving a state of happy because you are growing. Whenever you are melancholy choose a growth goal and take one step on the path to that goal. Define the second step and take it and pretty soon you are loping along a new and intriguing path towards a new you.
Every day I try something new. A new item in an old restaurant, a new wine from a new country, a new newspaper instead of my regular one, a new path on my regular running route. I talk to someone I would have never spoken to in my normal place. I download a new app and give it a try. A new shop that I have never been to. A book by an author I have never read. Once a month I try something bigger. I go to a wall climbing gym and take a quick lesson and climb the wall. I get the local college or recreation listings and take a course in an area that has interest to me. I read an old classic novel. I try a new foreign looking piece of equipment at the gym. I intuitively steer clear of the pieces of eqipment I do not know for fear of looking silly as I learn. Trying new equipment at the gym is another great analogy for life. Intermittent failure and looking silly are the price of growth.
The new experience creates an aha moment where we experience the world differently. Our sense of adventure, that fades as we age, needs to be rejuvenated. One new thing every day. As we try on new things our sense of adventure returns and those new things get bigger in scope. So does your comfort zone.
Credit where credit is due. Click on the picture to read the poem. It will inspire you and make you realize that you are not alone. This amazing poem was written by http://www.voiceoveruniverse.com/notes/Comfort_Zone Go to his blog.
William Butler Yeats wrote that "Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing or that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing." This is one of those succinct moments when you read or hear a thing and it pulls all the pieces of your puzzle into a full picture. How a simple phrase can reignite your passion. It makes me understand why despite having all that I have that I still feel like I am searching. It also reveals that happiness is not a point in time but instead is an everchanging state of being. It unwinds the complexity of the search for happiness. In all the times when I am least satisfied I can see that those are the times of the least growth.
Imagine all the different areas in which we can experience growth. We do not grow in all areas at the same time. A friend of mine, a single mom just moved in with her long time boyfriend. She is growing in the area of relatonships. Another friend watches her second child go off to University and needs to develop a new agenda. She is growing to define what pleases her now. She is developing a new agenda for her life. Another friend has started a business and left her job behind. She is growing in the emotional parts of her inner self that encourage self reliance and confidence. In all these instances, the early chaos gives way to a peaceful retrospective of what has occurred and how we have grown. It is only in glancing back that we can see that the chaos and emotion was a necessary prerequisite to this new plateau.
We do not need to grow in all areas at once. One area is enough. Two can be stimulating. When we grow in many areas at the same time the chaos is overwhelming. Sometimes life events force change. Then we grow in many ways at the same time. The unbearable tumult gives way to a new day with new skills and new strengths haphazardly acquired but valuable nonetheless.
Real life is a tennis volley back and forth between the search for safety and our need to grow. When we settle into our safe place our dissatisfactions gradually rise to where we break out in one area of our lives and seek growth. Small puddle jumps let us try on change but do not induce the heart pounding chaos that inspires true growth. The real growth comes when we abandon our safety net and leap across the unknown abyss. The abyss jumping extreme sport is not for the faint of heart!
At other times we retreat into the no growth zone and wallow in a melancholy from which we cannot break free. We fall into a place where we are recognizably dissatisfied but not confident enough to catapult ourselves into change. It is a strange unhappy place, safe because of it's familiarity but dangerous for the very same reasons.
When you risk your safe place for new growth you create a happiness quotient that far exceeds the inputs. Not ground breaking to repeat that we need growth to be happy but the reminder can shake you out of your safe place and encourage you to try something new. So long ago spoken, Yeats words still live. How profound.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
I ran a 10km run down Yonge Street in Toronto this morning. Both my teenage sons joined me. It is a regular annual event that we run every spring and it always challenges me. I love it because it is a family event that we share amidst the madness of running around pursuing our own schedules. I love to share the event with my boys and their different friends who choose to join us each year.
A friend and her boys run it with us and it was interesting to see that over the years she and I help each other along. She was not strong this year and I found it interesting that I missed her strength moving me forward, but found my own strength to finish with a respectable time. It was an interesting analogy to real life as some years she is leading and encouraging and other years I am. Just depends on who is at a point of strength at that time. I waited for her to cross the finish line. My time did not matter. We are a team. It is what women do.
I looked around at all the people...I think there were 14,000 runners. All shapes and sizes and ages. All running for their own reasons. There was a man lying on the road at the 7km mark and they were doing CPR on him and I teared up at the thought of his family waiting at the finish line. I was struck by the fragility of being human. It made me look at all the runners with a new appreciation. It made me appreciate the strength of my own physical self. Life is fragile. I want to wake up every day and feel my power and my peace.
I want to enjoy this physical shell that is so intricately connected to the spirit that resides in it. How great it feels to push beyond my limits! How it feeds my body and mind to do that. It makes you accept your human-ness with all it's flaws and limitations and appreciate the strengths that have been dealt to you. Thank you Sporting Life!