It’s Halloween the scariest night of the year – so what are you afraid of? I don’t mean ghosts, witches or spiders – I mean what is it that deep inside you sometimes holds you back from being the best you can be? I have realised what still scares me.
Over the last few weeks I have been truly inspired by some amazing people such as Brene Brown the leading vulnerability researcher and best-selling author who I saw at the ICF Global Conference in London. Also Shanti Hughes a deaf dancer, musician and mother who has fought for the right to be heard and, having taught herself to speak, spoke so eloquently at the STW Women in Leadership Lunch this week. Neither would class themselves as anything other than ordinary. Indeed Brene’s website is www.ordinarycourage.com yet they both carry an extraordinary message about what it means to be incredibly brave and to ultimately flourish.
It’s about having the courage to tell your true story warts and all and the ability to have compassion for yourself – to love yourself for who you are and not what others expect you to be. It’s about giving it a go and recognising that it’s ok to be ‘good enough’ and that there’s no such thing as perfection. It’s about embracing vulnerability, the uncertainty and risks associated with putting your head above the parapet and doing what’s right for you and those around you. It’s about overcoming shame and the fear that if it all goes pear-shaped you are not going to be worthy of love and belonging.
As a coach I try and ‘walk the talk’ and I have a reminder in my phone that every week I must step outside my comfort zone and challenge and stretch myself in some way – as Brene says ‘Dare Greatly’ and be vulnerable, take a risk. I have all the tricks of the evidence-based coaching trade to support me – challenging my negative thinking and replacing it with performance enhancing thoughts, effortfully practicing gratitude for all my opportunities and focusing on what’s working well in my life, and mindfully working to and developing my strengths.
But despite all that there’s a core message from Brene and Shanti that resonates with me because it reminds me of what I am still scared of. It’s about choosing discomfort over resentment. It’s that willingness to experience discomfort and pain of challenging or saying no to people in order overcome the resentment we hold for ourselves or others when we compromise too much. The resentment we feel because we know we are holding ourselves back, or because we are being held back from living authentically, becoming the best we can be, from doing what is right for us and those around us, from standing up and being counted.
So like everyone I am still a work in progress and I need to work on overcoming my fear of discomfort. I need to extend my willingness to embrace vulnerability by taking risks to speak it like it is, confident that I am worthy and that it will enhance my capacity to flourish. So – what are you afraid of…….?