I just finished the first draft of the third chapter of my book this week about Connected Conversations at Work. Yes, it’s true, finally! I’m consistently devoting scheduled time to write down my thoughts and ideas about integrating leadership and coaching, and it has been a really long time coming! I have had the outline for over a year and have planned to write this book for at least five years. This blog is the short-story about how I avoided living as boldly as I could because “I didn’t have time,” and “who really cares about what I have to say?” What is hilarious about this little drama of mine is that I have been coached more than once about believing in myself as a writer. I was stuck for a long time, unable to make this dream come true. Unable to perform at the level I was capable of. What got in my way? Uh…I did.
So here is how this short-story came to be, as I was writing this chapter called Executing Excellence, I was reflecting on different concept models and ideas, like Doing vs. Being and The Effectiveness Equation, and one of my own concepts that I call the Leader’s Edge when it dawned on me that I had only recently taken my own advice on transformation in a very specific area. Here is what I was working on when I had my epiphany:
To make a meaningful difference in the lives of others, we must live and work at the edge. We must learn to dance on the line until we are comfortable being on the precipice, fully committing all that we have without attachment to outcome, looking out at the unknown and claiming it as ours. This is the Leader’s Edge. Most of us want to make a difference and have the biggest impact we can have on our world. What that means will vary depending on each individual’s unique qualities, dreams, and desires. What it takes is risking one’s ego for the sake of something bigger than you.
I continue to learn the lesson that transformation is possible when I live at the edge of my beliefs about self. I have done that again and again, pulling on those edges, unraveling what had been, to create a bigger and bolder space in which to live.
I know these things in my head, but sometimes it’s hard to put them into practice. Just when I think I am living at the edge and unraveling the known, I realize I am barely touching, much less pulling on the possibilities for the future. The day I read what I had written, I realized that it took me a long time to believe that I was good enough to write a book. I had found it difficult to let go of my own story. I wanted safety more than the risk of what others would say, and so I held on too tightly, clinging to something I knew and reaching out in small ways to feel a tiny taste of living the bigger dream. I had been writing in ways that were safe, small snippets, but what did it take to finally step out on the edge?
I wish I could say I knew with certainty the catalyst for what created the shift for me. It’s hard to let go of the old story; the little girl who didn’t know how to use her voice. As I look back, I had been thinking about moving from the outline to actually writing for a long time. It was always in my head, swirling around, until I felt it would drive me insane. I brought it up during a Moxie meeting (a women’s group I belong to) and someone gave me a brilliant piece of advice (and a bit of a kick-in-the-arse). She told me that she had just finished her rough draft and what had finally worked for her was making a commitment to the writing (novel concept, I know). She carved out protected time, and then enrolled champions to hold her accountable for making it happen, an advisory group that met once a month. I decided that day to move the voices from my head, through my fingers and onto the page. I blocked Fridays for writing the book, literally changed our work schedule for the business, and I stole her idea about the advisory board. We had our first meeting this week, on my birthday, three months after I began writing in earnest.
I was relieved the day I wrote about the Leaders Edge, that I had finally moved to the edge myself, and while it was frightening and awkward with all the new things I was learning, I was also satisfied in a way I had not been in a long time. Until I had been tired enough of the old, I couldn’t find the space for the new. My old story had been suffocating me, and it took some combination of me being in enough pain over being stuck and someone else helping me to discover a path out. I had to make a commitment to change what I was doing if that first book was ever going to be born. And I had been dreaming of writing a book since I was twelve years old!
The story I just shared about not moving forward because of an old belief system is not a new story. It plays itself out every day in each of our lives related to performance at work, our personal and business relationships, health & wellness, bad habits, and unhealthy addictions. We are getting in the way of what we are capable of, and more importantly of what we want most! I am in the slow class, because it seems to take me a long time to finally break free of those old chains and patterns. I suspect I have a high tolerance for pain and suffering, but that is a story for another day.
On this day, I just want to celebrate because I have busted through this illusion of not being able to write…and I am writing…no, I am a writer!
If you have examples of how you have been in your way as you work to bust through old patterns to achieve your dreams and live up to what you are capable of, tell me about it. I want to create a webinar about breakthrough performance and I need your help to know what gets in your way and ideas for how you broke through to a bigger and bolder future.
If you like this blog, I think you will like my book The Cycle of Transformation. Available now!
Deb Siverson is a seasoned executive coach, certified as a PCC through the International Coach Federation. If you want to schedule time to discuss how you or your organization can increase engagement by having a different conversation at work, contact us now.