Reaching into the Dark
I recently had the opportunity to hear Eric Weinmeyer speak. He is best known as the only blind person to reach the top of Mount Everest, and now has the additional honor of being one of less than 100 people to climb the seven summits (the highest peaks on all of the seven continents), and the only blind person to have ever done so. Eric had a number of really amazing pieces of advice, including the importance of embracing adversity and using it to your advantage and how we are all dependent on the people around us (our team) to get us to the top. But, the most profound thing he said, that had an amazing impact on me was when he spoke about the first time he ever climbed. His first climbing experience was rock climbing and he talked about how all he was doing was "reaching into the dark". And, how all of us, no matter what we are doing, are really just reaching into the dark.
In a training class once, they drew 5 dots on a piece of paper and gave us instructions to connect these dots using four straight lines. I drew the five dots and then I started at the paper and came up with numerous ways (none of which worked) on how to do the exercise. About 2 minutes into it, the instructor said, "notice how many of you have not even had your pen touch the paper yet. You will not draw a line until you have the solution figured out." And, I thought, yeah, that just makes sense. But, instead, it was a realization that I really don't like to start anything until I know the entire solution - I have to have the whole blueprint mapped out before I stick my toe into the water. And, that is really hard to do, when you are reaching into the dark. For everything each of us takes on, every challenge, or new growth opportunity, it is a new experience for us. And, in that moment, each of us are taking a step into the unknown. Listening to Eric, I was amazed at how much fun he was having doing just that - trying something new, with no guarantees or assurances that it would work out. Unlike most of the challenges I face, Eric decided to reach into the dark and take a risk with his life. Reaching into the dark when you are climbing mountains, or kayaking in while water rapids, is not a "safe" risk. And, if Eric is willing to do that, then surely, I can try something new, take a risk, a step into the darkness to achieve my dream.
All of that sounds simple enough; and, if you hear Eric speak, there really is no option but to step towards your dreams, since he has not allowed any excuses to get in his way. But, for many of us, the first step is the hardest. Below are five tips on taking that first step to reach into the darkness:
1. Ask yourself "what is the worst thing that could happen"? Understanding of the worst case scenario and more importantly, realizing that you will survive it is powerful. You can spend time thinking about the what if negative scenarios, but, make sure you balance those with the what if positive scenarios. What if you took this step and it led you to exactly what you wanted and needed?
2. Build a team of supporters. Every time I get ready to do something that scares me, I tell a few people who I know love and support me. When I tell them and they get excited about the idea, I am reminded that I can do this and have the skills, talents, and desire necessary. Once I have that boost of confidence, it is easy to tell 5, 10, 20 more people and get the help I need to achieve it. The key step is to always start with the people who already think you are a super star! Once you tell people what you want to do, chances are they will help you think of ways of getting it done.
3. Build your asking muscle. You may have heard the saying that everything you want is right outside of your comfort zone. In order to get to the next level in your business or to get to the next level in your fitness, you are going to have to learn something new or do something different than what you are doing today. And, in order to do that, you are going to need help. Ask people to help you. Most of the time, they will. Most people love the opportunity to do something to help someone else - all of it starts with asking for what you need with the confidence that they will be thrilled to help you. When I teach people the power of asking, I always have them start in a restaurant by asking for dessert for free. It is a pretty easy ask and almost always the Manager will say yes. I once went to a really nice, very high end, sushi restaurant in Los Angeles and asked for free dessert. The waiter looked at me and said, "we don't do that here". Being an asker, I asked to speak to the Manager. Next thing you know, my friend and I were having dessert for free.
4. Take a smaller step (reduce the risk). If the next step seems too big or too scary, start with a smaller step. If diving into the water is too much, start by sticking your toe in. If contacting a publisher to represent your book is too big, start by publishing an article in a local paper. Each step that you take will build the confidence to take bigger and bigger steps towards your goals.
5. Have faith. I believe that the dream that you are given was given to you for a reason. It is your job to take that dream and make it into reality. Have faith that the dream is not just for you but is to be of service to others. Take a moment to think of how your reaching into the dark will help someone else. Being focused on the positive impact your goals have on others is a powerful boost to take a step.
Think of success like a muscle that needs to be built. While you want to run out and do it all at once, that is not the way to build stronger muscles - it takes time and repetition. Success is a set a daily habits that will help you achieve what you want. If you are like me, this sounds a bit intimidating. I am pretty good at getting on the band wagon when the idea is new and fun, but as soon as the novelty wears off, I am ready to learn a new habit and move on. It takes approximately 21 to 30 days to program in a new habit... and honestly, I think it takes closer to three months. Here is why. It takes 21 to 30 days continuously to create a new habit. That means doing that thing every day, without missing a day, for 21 to 30 days. No weekends off, no holidays, every day. When most people start something, they are pretty good for a week or two weeks, and then they may skip a day and pick back up the next day. When that happens, you start your 21-30 days clock over again. The next day you pick back up your good habit is now actually day 1 all over again.
When I set my goals, I set them with 90 days in mind. In 90 days, I may achieve part of an overall goal. I normally set close to 40 goals a year... that is a lot and I do not recommend that! But, my 40 goals are actually closer to 10 big goals that I have broken down into 4 pieces so that I can achieve a piece of the goal in 90 days. And, I know that with any goal I set, I am going to have to develop some new habits or recommit to some old habits to achieve them. Jack Canfield in The Power of Focus
talks about setting a goal for 4 new habits a year, or one new habit each 90 days. If you do that, that is 12 new habits in three years. Do you think you would reach a new level of success with 12 new habits? Absolutely! And, three years is not a long time to achieve a major life goal.
So, start today. But, how do you get started? First of all, you have to identify the habits you currently have that are holding you back the most. For me, the big one was overcommitting. I had to learn a new habit of saying no. And, it took me longer than 90 days. But, now, I realize I say no to most things. Jim Bunch, author of the Ultimate Game of Life, has a saying that I love to use: "If it is not a hell yes, then it is a hell no". You will know when you really want to say yes. Anything short of that is a no. That is one way to commit to your dream above anything else. There are a few ways to determine which habits you need to work on. The first is to observe someone you believe is successful and/or someone doing what you want to be doing. See if you can interview or shadow them and get to know what they do. When you see some habits they have, that you do not, note those as habits that you may need to develop to be successful in this field. The other way, which is very easy, but not always fun, is to ask for feedback. If you are willing to be open and honest with yourself, ask others this important question, "In what way do you see me holding myself back from achieving my dream (or achieving... and say your specific dream)?" And, then listen. Do not defend or critique the feedback, just listen. Then ask at least another 3-5 people. If the majority is saying the same thing, then take that as valid feedback to work on. This can be tough because most of us have an idea of what we are like in our minds, and it can be difficult to hear others describe us in an opposite way. But again, if one person says it, you can evaluate it, but if a bunch of people are saying the same thing, do yourself the favor and listen to the feedback.
Finally, when creating a new habit, set yourself up for success! Get a partner to check in on you; someone who will encourage
you and support you. Make changes to your environment. Our environment dictates 50% of our habits (Jim Bunch - The 9 Environments). So, make sure you take the time to look around your environment and make it work for you. If you have an issue of oversleeping - move your TV out of your bedroom, move the alarm clock across the room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off, have someone call you at the time you need to wake up to make sure you are awake. Make the changes to your environment that will support you. Remember, success is just a habit. The more you invest in creating positive habits, the more
successful you will be.
Hi! Welcome to my blog, Lunch with Cinderella. I love writing about my life experiences and the fact that they may help spur some cool experiences of your own. If you are here, leave a comment... I read them all and love hearing from you!
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