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How often do you move forward despite thinking you are not ready?

Today is December 26 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you move forward despite thinking you are not ready?”

Comedian Jim Carey told the story of his father in a commencement speech and said "So many of us chose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn't believe that was possible for him. So, he made a conservative choice and instead he got a job as an accountant. When I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. Our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which is that you can fail at what you don't want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love."

Today's question and post revolves around the concept of moving forward despite thinking you are not ready. The ironic thing about this concept is that people like Carey's father convince themselves they have chosen 'the safe path' because they did not think they were ready for the path they really wanted to travel. All too often, however, life presents one new challenge after another regardless of the path we travel so, to paraphrase Carey's speech 'if you can fail at doing what you don't want to do; why not try and do what you love?'

Author J.R.R. Tolkien wrote “Go back?" he thought. "No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!" So up he got and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.”

Those who navigate the chaos move forward despite thinking they are not ready by ‘feeling the wall all the while their heart is a patter and a pitter.’

People who navigate the chaos know they may not have all the answers, but they still figure out a way to move forward. Any small step forward is progress. How often do you remind yourself of that? Some people never get started because they live a life of believing they are never ready. Once you can move forward despite thinking you are not ready though, you can help yourself navigate the chaos of life.

Actor Fritz Weaver was a familiar stage and screen presence for six decades, with appearances in more than 130 films and TV series and won a Tony Award for Best Actor for the 1970 drama “Child’s Play.” Other Broadway productions include “The Power and the Glory,” “The Chalk Garden,” “Baker Street” (as Sherlock Holmes), “The Price” and “The Crucible.”

The actor, with a long string of Shakespearean roles under his belt, said in a 2004 interview with Broadway World that Hamlet was the most rewarding, even though - in 1958 - he wasn’t ready for it. “Not too young - I was unprepared for it. I said, ‘I’m not ready, I’m not ready.’ John Houseman kept saying, ‘That’s perfect. That’s so Hamlet-like.’ … They talked me into it. I still wake up early in the morning and think about moments in it, and I think, ‘Now I know how to do that!’”

Today’s strategy of moving forward despite thinking you are not ready is actually grounded in the latest academic research. In their book The CEO Next Door: The 4 Behaviors That Transform Ordinary People into World-Class Leaders, authors Elena Botelho and Kim Powell concluded “when it comes to proving CEO mettle, there is no more powerful catapult than what we call the ‘big leap.’” The big leap allows you to catapult your personal or professional development. It will require you to leave your comfort zone for an extended period of time. The big leap will challenge your assumptions, require you to think differently, and have you let go of the past.

As Botelho and Powell noted:

“Accepting the challenge of a role that is a big strength from what you are done previously-either because the role is much larger than anything you have done before or because it takes you into unfamiliar territory. With a big leap you may find yourself overnight managing a hundred times more people than you ever have before or taking on roles for which you do not have the required experience. A big leap, when successful, demonstrates you have the ability to thrive in a new, uncertain environment. It demonstrates your ability to scale your leadership skills and deliver results even amid a new and much more complex terrain. Your success with a big leap suggests that you have the skills, acumen, and temperament to make the biggest leap of all, to the highest levels of senior management and even to CEO.”

While some people wait for the big leap to appear before them, Botelho and Powell found through their research that the most successful people went looking for one.

  • How often do you move forward despite thinking you are not ready?

  • How often do you go out and seek a big leap that will challenge you to grow both personally and professionally?

  • Are you doing what you don't want to do because you are afraid of traveling some other path in life? If so, how does that make you feel?

  • What is preventing you from doing that which you enjoy; even if on a part-time basis?

  • How long will you wait to travel down the life path that both excites and scares you?


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