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no predictions, no resolutions. only courage.

December 8, 2009

in change,life

i’m not much for crafting predictions or resolutions, probably because i’m not one for forecasting in general. i’ve never had a five-year career plan. i can’t even claim to have had a one-year career plan. i left college a clueless drama major in the dark hours of ’87 and have been weaving my way to a happy, successful-on-my-terms life ever since.

however, an important guiding list did come into being nearly three years ago.

i don’t know if it’s my aquarian nature, my jewish nomadic genes, or some other less charitable attribute, but i get bored easily…way too easily. upon turning 42, i noticed that i was bored! i mean, really bored! bored to the point of misery and miserable to be around. i weighed several alternatives—none of which seemed particularly feasible—before stumbling upon the idea for what became known as my “42 list.”

i asked my friends and my family to contribute, and together we came up with a pretty good list, though it never quite made it to 42 items. the list consisted of things i’d always wanted to do but had been afraid to, things i love to do and hadn’t done in a while, and things i wanted to try: wear a tutu, don a huge ring that covered my knuckles, take a yoga class, get back into the theater, volunteer regularly, dance in the rain, and so on. my friends got really into it. one friend decided she wanted to join in, so we took a trapeze class together.

to the outside observer, i’m sure the items seem disjointed and quite possibly weird. what’s the big deal about wearing a huge ring or taking a yoga class? from my vantage point this list represented courage—my courage. to wear things i knew would make me standout. to appear foolish. to take physical risks. to place myself in uncomfortable situations. to be a beginner.

while i didn’t write a “43 list” or a “44 list,” i’ve maintained the mindset that came with the exercise and it’s now moved from the distinctly personal to the decidedly professional. a courage snowball, if you will.

people say you need to be on your a-game to be successful. i say courage is the greater differentiator. courage empowers you to share your opinion when you’re a junior player in a room of senior execs or your perspective’s unwelcome. courage guides you to bring your whole self to work. courage allows you to release the reins on a project and let someone else strut their stuff. courage fuels your ability to take the step even when the outcome’s uncertain.

out of a distraction from boredom i’ve discovered a life-long resolution: to be courageous in ways both big and small. and to do it with panache. care to join me?

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Chris Hall December 9, 2009 at 12:23 am

Finding the courage to do small things is where it’s at, Fran. I remember reading about how I should strive to push myself out of my comfort zone multiple times per day to extend the boundaries of it, in Tim Ferriss’ The Four Hour Work Week.

It was a revolutionary idea to me, and I have tried to dive in face first ever since, not unlike your 42 list.

Totally love it. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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fran December 9, 2009 at 11:36 am

chris, my favorite is “do one thing every day that scares you” — eleanor roosevelt. daily is hard, but i look at it as a whole.

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