There’s a great apocryphal story about actors. At an audition, an actor says, “Me? Yes, sure I can ride a horse!”, gets the job and then has to book some riding lessons.
It has happened to me a few times (not about horse riding as I used to be able to do that - yes, that is me in the photo). People have asked me if I can do something and I’ve been all, “yes, piece of cake”, then spent a couple of days fretting, feeling out of my comfort zone and worried about letting people down. Then I’ve put the work in, learnt stuff if necessary or pulled the resources out of my years of experience and suddenly, there I am, delivering a workshop, running a literary festival, curating a sculpture exhibition, teaching tango…
Many years ago, I was offered a job which I thought was a bit of a stretch, but which was such a great opportunity that I couldn’t let it pass. Every job I had had up to that point began with a tour of the office, some introductions to key people and an explanation of how the job was done. With the new job, my first day consisted of me being put in an office on my own, with a desk, telephone and typewriter (it was a long time ago!) and my colleague saying, “I’ll leave you to it. You know what needs to be achieved, just let us know how you are going to do it.” I realised this was going to be more than “a bit” of a stretch!
I would love to say I was galvanised into action. In truth, I spent the next half an hour sat in my chair staring at the white desktop and muttering, “Oh, God, oh, God” repeatedly under my breath. During that time, my only thoughts were about the consequences of standing up and walking out. What would be the impact on my future career? Would I have to leave the city and change my identity? I was so stressed, I couldn’t even come up with a decent exit strategy.
Finally a sensible idea took shape, the best answer to any question: make a cup of tea. As I drank and pondered, I admitted running away wouldn’t be cool, but if I had a reasonable stab at producing a plan, even if it wasn’t deemed good enough, at least it would go down as a heroic effort. I got down to work and next morning submitted a document of ideas, processes and suggested next actions. It was greeted enthusiastically and I was away, with a large sigh of relief on my part! There was still a lot to do, but at least I had crossed the first hurdle.
We have to trust our instincts, go with what excites us and believe that we have what is needed to step up to something new. New challenges enable us to build on our resources, create a bigger game for ourselves and encourage us to thrive. They don’t need to be huge challenges each time; after all, you don’t decorate a house until you have laid the foundations and built up small row upon small row of bricks.
If this has struck a chord with you and you want to find out if coaching will support you, book for a Light the Blue Touchpaper session.