Welcome to 2019! Numbers are pure magic to me and I especially love the odd ones. As my friend said, the biggest things happen in the odd years. The number 9 has always been my favourite. Why? Because I love the number 3 and 9 = 3 x 3!
One of my favourite University classes was the Theory of Chaos. Finding patterns hidden in disorder. It was beautiful music to my ears.
In order to be number one, you have to be odd.
I was fearful of math until I discovered how much I really loved it. There is nothing more satisfying than solving a mathematical equation. When math got hard in high school, that’s when I started to hate it. I was very sick with strep throat and missed two weeks of school. After that, I never seemed to catch up. Math builds upon math, and I missed something foundational, so I (believed) I couldn’t climb any higher. When all it takes is a little discipline, staying power and not being afraid to try. But, I pushed on into a career in technology… and still there after thirty plus years.
I am afraid to try.
Why? My parents didn’t treat me like I had to be perfect. I put that expectation on myself. I hated to be wrong.
One gym class in elementary school – I can’t recall what grade – we played baseball. I had never played before, hadn’t been to a game, and didn’t know the rules.
Fuck running to first and second base just to get to third! I ran straight for third base. Everyone, including Jim the gym teacher, laughed. I was so mortified by mistake that I froze, and took flight. My cheeks red in shame. And I never played baseball again until I signed my son up for t-ball.
Turns out I actually have decent eye/hand coordination, and can hit a ball out of the park. Who knew? I was really angry with myself for steering clear of home plate for all those years, because I really loved baseball.
So… what does be fearless look like?
It’s opening yourself up and examining your flaws.
It’s doing what you fear most, when it is the best step forward.
It’s taking ownership for your choices, and accepting them. Leave bad decisions in the past and move forward.
It’s like being a scientist of life. In research, a bad result isn’t considered a failure. It’s just a product. If you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying. Successes and fails are a natural byproduct of living a full life!
Why aren’t we taught these soft skills like we are taught to speak, to read, to do math?
I’ve often wondered why my life is particularly eventful, compared to the calm, easy living of others. And, I realized that my chaotic life is the result of my choices. Some of them great – some of them bad. I convinced myself that staying in an abusive relationship was the best course of action, until Andrew showed me I was wrong.
I was smart, cute & lovable. Perhaps a bit wild, crazy & smart-alecky. But I was worth it.
The fact is that I sometimes avoid the hard work. Why? Because… it’s hard work. Calling myself a perfectionist didn’t feel like the whole story. There is fear in there. When we are fearful, we take flight, fight or freeze.
It’s difficult to admit that working for something takes courage, commitment and showing up. I had a pretty shitty personal reward system along with horrible delay gratification. Have you heard about the marshmallow test they’ve done on kids? Offer them one marshmallow to eat now, or a whole bunch if they wait. The kids who can wait fare the best in life. They can delay gratification and strive towards a bigger goal.
I am not the kid that can wait. Patience is not one of my virtues (thank you, Mom). I’d be bunny stuffing that mother marshmallow into my mouth before you could say “Do you just want one?”
Two, please. It’s amazing what a dimple and a smile can get you. I learned that at a very young age. Batting long lashes got me exactly what I wanted. Why work hard when everything came so easily? Until… nothing came easily. Batting my eyelashes only got me out of one traffic ticket. I’ve had several. It doesn’t work when you forget to do something important.
Yet, I have still managed to be in the top 20% of my field, be a single mother, volunteer my time, effort and money… all while having a social life envied by the Millenials.
My priorities and goals switched as I became a mother. There was this other tiny person who mattered to me more than myself. And I took the focus off myself, but a bit too much. It becomes a vicious cycle of not doing enough, not caring enough about myself and not feeling worthy enough to change my situation. I can’t take all the blame, as it was a difficult period during my life. But I do accept all the responsibility.
I think that is why I am so fearful. I have so many responsibilities with no one to lean on. I have essentially raised my son on my own. I was the one who signed him up for baseball, and volunteered my time to help all the kids. I was the one who taught him how to ride a bike. I was the Mom who baked for all the bake sales. I was the parent who built lunar landers and three-foot islands for school projects. I am still the one who makes sure he is safely home at night and pays for the food he eats, the roof he sleeps under and the gigabytes of fast internet that he consumes daily.
But you couldn’t convince me that anxiety about tomorrow ruined any chance of making today count. I had to have a plan. I figured that worrying about something would hold it off at arm’s length – when it only brought it closer.
It’s taken baby steps – and giant detours – to get to where I am today.
And I have learned to trust not only myself, but God.
So what DOES fearless look like?
- It means I have a plan. I have a vision and a plan for where I want to be in 3-months, 1 year, 3 years. If God graces me with time. I read an interesting article on prioritizing your goals. It’s called the 5/25 rule by Warren Buffet. He asked his pilot to write down his top 25 career goals, then review and circle his top 5. The other 20 things on that list? You avoid at all costs! Simplify. Focus. Don’t try to do it all. Spreading yourself too thinly over multiple goals won’t work. This 5/25 Rule can apply to your life outside of work.
James Clear on Buffet on 5/25 Focus
- What are my Top 5? My son. My professional career. My writing. EVERYTHING else is in my way. As you notice, I only have three things on my Top 5 list, but that is because I don’t want to dilute them. They are massively large goals, so I don’t really have room for five right now. My son still needs guidance. My position at work has changed into a more chaotic and bumpy sales role. I have to wrap my brain around managing my territories and being successful. Because no one else is paying the bills. And my writing… it’s my habit. My counselling. My second job. My Plan C. (See… I really do have a plan!)
- Time is something I don’t have an infinite supply of. I have to chose wisely on whom and on what I want to spend it. This is why I am redesigning how I attack my time & project management.
- Switch off the fear. Instead of remaining frozen, I have seen what I can accomplish when I push through it. Terri, I promise you that it doesn’t mean I will be more reckless or intimidating to the world!
- Show up. I have to walk my talk. This is it. The night of nights. Remember the Bugs Bunny theme song Overture? Bet you didn’t know all the correct words, either!
Overture, curtain, lights
This is it, the night of nights
No more rehearsing and nursing a part
We know every part by heart
Overture, curtain, lights
This is it, we’ll hit the heights
And oh what heights we’ll hit
On with the show this is it.
Tonight what heights we’ll hit.
On with the show, this is it!
If not now… when?