The Secret To a Great Leap

It’s been almost 5 years since that fireside chat. My friend “Joe” and I were one of the last few remaining at our campsite fireside on our annual church camping trip. The embers were glowing and yes, there was a bit of whisky involved. I distinctly remember Val emerging from her nearby tent in her pajamas and explaining that although our conversation was “indeed fascinating,” she was tired, and to please keep it down. Clearly the conversation stuck with me, as I wrote about it a year later.

Over a year ago I had a debate with a friend that just keeps staying with me. His premise, “By the time we are in our 40s our path is set. Your potential is channeled. You are just not going to accomplish anything significant you haven’t already started…”

His words angered me more than they should, perhaps because I was preparing for my own leap into the leadership development space. Looking back, my frustration with him was most likely driven by my own fear. What if he was right? Maybe it was too late to follow this dream. I woke up the next morning worried I had given him a bit too much “encouragement.” We never spoke of that evening again.

Fast forward to this week, leap year 2016.

His wife approached me. “Joe’s got a great opportunity for a huge new job in a new city. It’s just perfect for him and for us. It’s all so new and exciting.”

Surprised and delighted, I leaned in to hear more. What she said next floored me.

“Joe shared something the other night, I thought you should know. He said that conversation you had by the fire really stuck with him and made him think. He believes it helped him to be open and confident when the recruiters called out of the blue with an offer to change course.”

Great leaps don’t start the moment our feet leave the cliff. They begin in the moment we open our hearts and minds to the possibility for more.

Your path is not set.

Stay open.

Professor Lupin on Facing Your Fears #confidenthumility

Our biggest leadership screw-ups are fear in disguise. Fears have a powerful and dangerous habit of shape shifting into a monster that stands in our way, blocking the behaviors we most need for success.

Mike’s arrogant approach and intimidating demeanor is covering up his biggest fear–that the team will discover he’s not really an expert. The team talks about him constantly–about his horrible leadership–and avoids interaction. His fear wins.

John doesn’t start the blog he’s always wanted to write for fear of being irrelevant. His fear wins.

Rachel doesn’t share her best practices with her peers, because she wants to be the best and get promoted. She doesn’t get promoted because she’s not a team player. Her fear wins.

When we pretend we’re not afraid, fear wins.

By denying what scares us, our worst characteristics emerge bigger than the demons we fear.

But if we can NAME our fear, and see it for what it truly is–a ridiculous exaggeration of the worse case scenario–we stop the cycle.

We show up stronger, and have the strength to lead from a place of bigger confidence.

No one teaches this better than J.K. Rowling’s Professor Lupin.

Name your fear. Visualize it. Face it. And discover what makes it ridiculous.

I agree with Seth, “the worst trolls are in your head.” Give them a name. Laugh at them. And lead well.