When last we met I was bravely preparing to leave my familiar, warm, cozy Hobbit hole and making bold statements about how one must have a goodbye in order to have a new hello and how it was high time that I found some new stimulation. Big talk, that.
Well, the Moment of Truth is upon me and the tension is terrible. It feels like the air right before a big, summer thunderstorm; it’s a heavy, sultry, wait-for-it sort of atmosphere that’s hugely uncomfortable. Hard to breathe. Pressure building. Can’t escape it, can’t stop it. Rain’s a comin’, Jed.
TEDx. This is what I’m talking about. Well, TED and Ginger, actually. TEDx is the propelling vision and Ginger is the gal who’s helping me to achieve it, helping me to launch a speaking career. Now, “actionable steps” are not my strong suit. Neither is maintaining a “can-do” attitude, hence the need for someone who can guide, encourage, and cajole while simultaneously listening to me complain and collecting a check for all of the above. Meet GJ, my parter/business coach/cheerleader.
Ginger is very aptly named. She’s everything I am not: energetic, super-excited about life, mind-bogglingly positive, endlessly optimistic and a go-getter of incredible proportions. She is the Tigger to my Eeyore: exactly the person I need to push my gray, sorry-ass donkey butt up the hill so that I might actually accomplish something.
Now, the first thing one must do if one is long on talk and short on action, like moi, is to drill down to basics, like, what is your message? And, what do you want? You’d think I’d know the answer to these questions. You’d think they would spout trippingly off the tongue. And if you’d think that, you’d be wrong.
It is utterly astounding just how hard it actually is to state precisely what you want. In fact, I just read that this is one of the most difficult things for people to do: to say exactly what it is that they want. And apparently, the second hardest thing is doing the work required to get the thing you say you want.
It’s one thing to have a dream or vision; it’s another thing entirely to manifest it. Ever since I hired Ginger I have been racked with anxiety: Enormous anxiety. Wake-up-with-the-stomach-roiling anxiety. About what in particular? Everything — and nothing. Nothing is remarkably different in my outer life. In fact, it all looks as frighteningly the same as it did three months ago, or twelve. But on the inside, all hell has broken loose. My ego is out of its comfort zone and it’s having a meltdown. It issues dire warnings of imminent danger and calamitous, colossal failure if I continue on this reckless course of trying to improve my life.
Sometimes, I buy into this Woody Allen-esque anxiety mongering. I want to quit and go back to my cozy (read: cramped and stuffy) Hobbit hole. I want to return to my familiar state of depressing and frustrating inertia. Why? Because it’s strangely more comfortable there. It’s also pathetic. This is Eeyore territory and I know it well. “Never going to work anyway,” he says, head shaking glumly. Not possible.”
“Everything is possible!” Tigger Ginger replies exuberantly, bounding into the room. She means this. She believes this. In fact, she is so earnest in this belief that sometimes, sometimes I believe it too — just for a few seconds, but that’s enough time for some energy to actually move a little bit and I get things done. I do my actionable steps. I inch forward. I write my topic blurbs and my speaker bio and research possible TEDx venues. I hand out my card to people and say, “I’m a speaker!” even though I have yet to speak anywhere. (Still, it’s not a lie: I speak every single day. I say things. People listen. Not my children, but other people.)
Change is hard. Believing in your own self can be terribly hard. Breaking decades-old dysfunctional patterns is slow and painful work, but it’s the Good Work. I do believe this. Because it’s not about whether or not I give a rousing TED Talk: it’s about my willingness to try. It’s about having the courage to heed the call, to battle the demons of doubt and fear, and to “dare greatly.”
It’s scary to risk and painful to grow, but what else is there? Not to risk and not to grow? To live in fear and longing? There are choice points in life, places where one must choose between staying small or becoming something more. The former has a well-defined outcome; the latter is unknown. So if my options are to choose to stay small or choose to take a risk and expand my horizons, I choose a large glass of Lillet Blanc and some actionable steps, that’s what I choose.