Like any good story our lives are filled with twists and turns. Think of your childhood. Now think of a turning point, a series of events, which fundamentally changed your values, beliefs and self-perception. When we have compassion for where we've been, we can build the courage to change into who we want to be.
I flunked first grade. I was told it was a privilege to spend an extra year with my beloved teacher. My classmates knew better. I was different, less than. My stomach started hurting so badly that I frequently left school early. Every time a teacher made me read aloud to the class, I was humiliated. Didn’t they know I couldn’t do it! Fortunately, in fourth grade, my parents moved me to the public school and by fifth grade I was thriving.
Until writing this speech I didn’t realize just how much these events shaped my values, beliefs and self-image. Because of these events, I value strong education and work product. I value removing barriers that prevent people and organizations from reaching their potential. I believed failure was something to be avoided at all costs. I saw myself as a victim unable to win against the whim of others.
We can create our own turning points by pushing ourselves outside our comfort
zones. Before getting married I was in a bad relationship. I started believing that opening up emotionally was dangerous. 20 years into my marriage, this belief and my
emotional wall kept us separate, lonely and longing. It became glaringly obvious that
to get the closeness we both sought, I would have to take a risk and speak up despite my fear. The first time I exposed my soft underbelly, I was literally shaking. Would I be torn down? Rejected? Fortunately, I married a good man. He was kind and understanding. Now, 5 years later, there’s little I won’t share, and we feel so much closer.
Learning curves are like roller coasters. The deeper the fall the more the upside momentum. Until recently I’ve spent most of my life on kiddie roller coasters, risking little. My coaching certification program was an extreme roller coaster with enormous drops, loops and more. My failures conflicted so much with my self-image that I almost quit. I’m so glad I didn’t because what a ride it’s been!
Who are you becoming? What’s the story of your past, present and future? What turning points shaped your values, beliefs and self-perception? Who do you want to become? What risks do you need to take to get there? I challenge you: dig deep, share your story with someone you trust, and see what you discover. Then commit to a few actions you’ll take.
George Elliot said, “It’s never too late to be what you may have been.” Francis Bacon Sr. advises, “Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake.”