A beautiful Sunday, and grateful to have ‘survived’ Charlotte’s annual winter storm. The local school system gifted our children with a three day weekend. And my family members in Indiana and Illinois along Lake Michigan, laugh away at our idea of a snow storm. Along these lines, I was thinking about challenges and the comparative relativity at how we view them. Something one individual finds incredibly easy, could be an extreme challenge for another. And the idea of despite the perceived size, how important it can be for us to embrace challenge.
On many levels we are born into challenge. We are 100% dependent on others. Gradually we learn to feed ourselves, walk and hopefully are provided a foundation for healthy growth. We have little to no fear, and jump into challenges learning from experience. We learn not to touch the hot stove, and the level of challenge grows with us along the way. Even as seeds of fear may set in – what if I fall off my bike! Children face challenges, adults encourage, older siblings support, and we feel surrounded with love, safety in an environment to try even if we fail. The first time attempting the big slide may have been with an assist up the ladder and with a helpful catch at the bottom.
We grow more independent, the adults in our lives become less present, naturally so. And we continue to face different challenges in our lives. Our siblings are moving on to their own levels of independence. Bike rides may be perfectly ok while we remain within certain boundaries, be they physical or geographic. But we are definitely not going to take hands off the handlebars. That is too risky, we’ll ok maybe one hand! Or we feel safe riding within certain distances of home, but there is a barrier established that is considered too far to ride beyond. A young child, riding around the block for the first time alone, may wonder when and if they’ll actually make it back home. And they are probably welcomed to whoops and cheers like that first ride down the big slide.
Eventually into young adulthood, challenges continue to present themselves. Planning, preparation and concerns for success vs. failure become more real. Ones chance of asking that certain someone to prom may go up if we feel pretty sure that the response will be a yes. College decisions and career planning? Forget. About. It. And of course, be sure to pick something lucrative, happiness comes second. While being supportive in their own way, some parents will talk children off the ledge from ideas of being a singer, actor, artist – dare I say writer. We can be presented with a fear of failure, and the idea to mitigate the level of risk. Choices based primarily in safety are encouraged. We should all grow up to be doctors, lawyers or accountants.
And then it’s onto adulting! Where safe choices can gently transition to our primary focus. Yes , the practicality of decision making is real. A family, young children, mortgages, 529s, 401s and IRAs. Of course some of us will inherently have less fear – to sky dive or not to sky dive! Deviating to far from safety may put some of those so called comforts at risk. But what if we knew we couldn’t fail. What if we developed the understanding that the potential of failure is actually an incredible gift – learning and growth. And from that learning and growth comes more healthy challenge. And then we may grow to continue to embrace challenges- not shy away out of fear. And by embracing challenge, we embrace love and fear and happiness.
So what does it take? How do we shift into seeing challenges as something to embrace not something to fear. First we have to be ready to step into fear. You have to believe you will be better for stepping out to something new, than you would be for sitting in the status quo. Also helpful is a supportive loving environment allowing space to step outside of safety zone. When I decided to quit my day job, my wife was right there by my side. My kids were my biggest cheerleaders. Coaching and mentoring is another huge factor. Not using a coach yet, I highly recommend it, and I would be glad to share my experiences one on one. If you don’t have this environment yet at home or work, be open and communicate. Share your desires to take on new challenges and grow. Don’t rely on others to create the environment or opportunities for you – go out, make it happen, embrace it for yourself.
I am excited to be growing into another level of embracing challenge, and am blessed with an incredible support system. I know you can do this too, and am here to encourage you any way I can.
Sending love, light and laughter ❤️🙏