“Just try new things. Don’t be afraid. Step out of your comfort zones and soar, all right?” – Michelle Obama
Last week, we held a team offsite in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where my co-founder, Amy Humble, lives.
For those who could attend in person, we decided to have a launch point activity and went cross-country skiing. Some of us are downhill skiers, some not, but the cross-country activity was mostly new to most of us.
It is hard work. I was surprised as we started that I became lightheaded. Maybe it was the altitude; perhaps it was because I needed to eat. Either way, I couldn’t engage quite as I wanted to. What I noticed at that moment that was important to me was that I was willing to give myself grace (empathy). I didn’t beat myself up. I didn’t think of “failure.”
That was good practice, not for cross-country skiing perhaps, but for something I need to be good at more often. We all need to give ourselves room to grow by not expecting to be good at everything immediately. We need to empathize with our humanity and the process of growth.
I was able to be relaxed about my underperformance because my identity wasn’t tied up in whether I was good at cross-country skiing or not. I was doing something new; I had no reason to anticipate that I would be particularly good at it. It’s a helpful reminder: if we can pull our identity out of the equation, it is easier to try new things.
Once the offsite was over, Amy and I had planned to go downhill skiing for a 1/2 day. We had been planning this for weeks. I was looking forward to it. But then it was Friday, and we were tired, and it was cold. We almost didn’t go. Fortunately, I remembered Laura Vanderkam’s work and thought about my “remembering self”, about anxiety and facing the bear (it was an unknown), and knew we needed to go. We needed to form that neural pathway, EVEN if we did only one run. If we had canceled, then the next time we had planned to ski, it would be that much easier not to.
As it turned out, it wasn’t too cold. It was sunny with powdered sugar snow. Now I have a great memory of that day rather than a reminder that I had given it up.
What new thing are you considering? Give it a try and let me know how it goes.
This week’s podcast episode is with Carol Kauffman, founder of the Institute of Coaching at Harvard Medical School, and co-author of the book Real-Time Leadership. Carol is a therapist turned coach. I love learning from her, and I think you will too.
One of the things that really stayed with me was about having difficult conversations (I wrote about this on LinkedIn). But she said something interesting about when we know we are going to disappoint someone; there’s a tendency to pull away and operate from inside our own cocoon. Instead, she reminds us how important it is to lean in—in real-time, which is the subject of her book. Enjoy!
As always, thank you for being here!
P.S. If you are a coach or leader looking for an opportunity to help others grow, check out the Disruption Advisors’ Smart Growth Certification program. Learn more and register here.