Friday 6 April 2012

"Fear of Falling"

"A crisis is a terrible thing to waste." ~ Paul Romer, Stanford Economist

"If it scares me I'm doing it." ~ Laura

If you have been following my blog for awhile you have probably picked up this: I look for inspiration everywhere. Music that touches me and makes me feel or quotes that resonate with me. The experiences that I have or that my friends share with me are particularly powerful.

This week I had an energizing and inspiring experience disguised as "work" (yes, inspiration really is everywhere). I forced myself out of bed early on Wednesday morning, wiped the sleep from my eyes, grabbed a very large coffee, and headed into work for a webinar about building resilience. Ostensibly the webinar, presented by Tara Cree of Knightsbridge here in Vancouver, was about being resilient at work but it was so much more than that. Cree spoke about three "Big Ideas" and I would like to share those along with some of my own thoughts.

1. Resilience emerges if tested.
There are two types of us - "maintainers" and "fallers". Maintainers are really good at keeping their cool outwardly and never seem to lose it. Fallers do the opposite - fall. The fall can be long and hard or slow and drawn out. Which one do you think you are? Well, I fully admit that I am a faller. And I am pretty good about beating myself up about it, too - I have years of practice. But what I have discovered is that when you fall you learn. You learn about yourself and you learn about other people.

My most notable fall is definitely the severe depression that I experienced last year. But when I put aside the painful memories I am left with strength and resilience that I never knew that I had. Turns out that falling can be pretty good for you. It builds comfort with taking risks, you learn from your mistakes, you discover what you are capable of, and it leads you to a transformational moment. In short, falling builds resilience. So if you classify yourself as a maintainer, ask yourself this. Are you more resilient or just self-protective?

2. Do not live in fear of falling.
It's OK to fall. As I have outlined above, there are benefits from falling. Just don't forget to climb back up. Here are some of Cree's keys to bouncing back from your fall:
- Recognize when you are falling.
- Seek help (have your support network in place and call on them when you need to).
- Flex your "muscles" - take some relatively safe risks in order to build your resiliency.

3. The story that we tell ourselves in key.
We all have our own inner dialogue. When something goes wrong our default settings kick in - I am totally going to get fired for that mistake! My friend is going to hate me! I am the worst mother ever! And on and on and on. It's OK to have a negative thought - we are human, after all. Just be aware of the story that you are telling yourself so that you can catch yourself and turn the negative into something positive and useful. The transformational moment is when you catch yourself, take ownership for what is truly yours, and then let go of what isn't. Learn from it and move forward. Is your glass half full or half empty?

The hour that I spent listening to Tara Cree speak about resilience was truly energizing for me. I began to see examples around me of how others were building strength by challenging their comfort zones. A friend opened up over dinner about her insecurities at work and how her singing classes are encouraging her to sing with true feeling and to make a connection with the lyrics. Signing up for a singing class turned out to be a bit more than she bargained for but it seems to be helping her grow. I felt truly blessed that she opened up and shared her experience and happy to see her learning, growing, and spreading her wings.

Another person has been a long time friend who left my life briefly, we simply drifted apart. Happily, we reconnected after a few years and she has been an inspiration to me ever since. Laura is a mom, a chiropractor, and a triathlete (in addition to many other cool things!). Laura has a blog also and I always get something when I read her posts. Today when I opened her blog what should I see but the following quote from her, "If it scares me I am doing it." Along with a 38 year friendship, Laura and I share the same belief - life is meant to be lived and experienced.

So here is my question to you: how do you want to live your life? Do you want to simply maintain? Or do you want to take on a few challenges, maybe fall down a few times, and grow at the same time? I think I want to be a faller. A faller who knows when she is falling but who picks herself up, brushes herself off, and tries again.

KB xo

P.S. Check out Laura's blog:

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