Navigating Our “Firsts”
First day of school. First day of a new job. First day for a new project. First big client. First presentation to the C-Suite. There’s something exciting about “firsts” – all that looming possibility. But as I watched my kiddo standing in-Iine behind his new classmates yesterday, with a determined scowl on his face as he waited to take his first steps into the third grade, I was reminded that beginnings bring uncertainty as well. And how we handle that uncertainty makes all the difference.
I tried to prepare him. Yesterday morning while he was brushing his teeth, I coached, “Jeremy, this is the year that you can really make a difference! Remember how you helped those kids at camp this summer? Well you can do that for others too. Your classmates, your teacher, even me! Honey, there is a leader inside of you!” And with that, he simultaneously chewed on his toothbrush and started hurling small stuffed angry birds my way in response. Thus, (duh!) I realized that my little boy didn’t want my help. That he, like so many of us, wanted to navigate his “first” -that excruciating combination of ecstasy and torment – in his own way. Whatever the price.
We’re all like that to some extent. Lashing out at the abyss not knowing whether to embrace it or thwak it a good one . I’ve met VP’s who handle uncertainty with far less panache. Their coping mechanisms might be slightly more sophisticated (although, they too may be throwing angry birds around behind closed doors – who knows?), but they still act out, reacting in the hallways and in meetings as if everyone in their path was merely a fool and that they had all the answers to, alone, conquer the world.
But we don’t have to do it alone. We forget that.
What if…when we’re navigating new territory, we were to actually turn to someone for help? For wisdom? For support? Someone who might be able to cheer us on? Or bring us back down to earth? Or at the very least, reassure us that, no matter what happens, that we’re going to be okay? If we knew – really knew that taking that leap into the unknown would be okay, would it be easier to leap again? Leap more?
©OnStage Leadership, 2013
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