As I pressed ‘end’ on my phone, my mind was racing, conjuring up all of the ways that this potential project could go wrong. The family member that I just talked with described a situation in which siblings aren’t speaking, managers feel disgruntled, and they have a shaky business model that may or may not be able to support the much-needed transition that the family was considering. I must be nuts!
After 30 years of doing this work, I still get the wobbles. I worry that I may not have enough experience, enough information, or enough fortitude to do the right thing. I fret that I might send the wrong message, weaken an already weak system or fail to ask the “powerful question” that will crack open the whole situation.
Have you ever held back because you were concerned that your line of questioning might evoke a lot of emotion in the other person? Have you ever wasted countless hours second-guessing yourself and watering down your statements to the point that they become vapid and meaningless—all to avoid offending someone or hurting their feelings? Have you found yourself afraid to broach an important topic because you were not sure what might happen?
If so, then you too have experienced the wobbles. And, over these many years, I have developed my personal method for gaining a more secure footing and replacing the wobbles with a courageous and somewhat stable leap into the unknown.
Here are my 5 reminders that help to propel me forward when things get shaky:
- Check my motivation—move forward from a place of genuine compassion and caring.
- Be honest about not having all the answers—be prepared to be a co-creator of solutions and not the expert.
- Be genuinely curious and observant—without judgment.
- Be prepared to constantly test my own assumptions and encourage this in others.
- Know that no perfect solution or perfect person exists – most of us are doing our very best with the knowledge, resources and skills we have available at the time.
I know that sometimes, I am just like the Lion in the Wizard of Oz, worried that I simply don’t have the courage to do this work. Then, I remind myself, just as the Great Wizard said, courage does not come from the outside. It cannot be bestowed upon you, but rather, is something that you pull from inside, because it has been there the whole time.
We are here to support you, provide information and encourage the sharing of best practices, but in the end, it is your own courage and willingness to take the risk of broaching the difficult topics that will make the difference in the lives of others.
Remember, as Henry David Thoreau famously wrote:
We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal and then leap into the dark to our success.