Are you one of those people who automatically worries about trying something new? Someone who if you feel like something might be out of your comfort zone, you tend to shy away?
We all have occasions when we have an opportunity to extend ourselves and certainly not every situation is appropriate to say yes to. However, there are times when saying yes, despite any uncertainty you might feel at the tim, exactly the road to a new and wonderful experience.
Sir Richard Branson sums this up perfectly when he says:
If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later – Sir Richard Branson
It takes courage to say yes to something that you haven’t done before, bravery to take a leap of faith and a strong heart to believe in yourself enough to take a chance on your ability to figure out whatever you need to learn, whatever you need to do, to rise to the next level.
Here’s the thing.
When you say no, you know exactly what the outcome will be. You cannot fail if you never try.
If you don’t try at anything, you cannot fail – Kate Winslet
The choice to say yes leaves the result ‘up in the air’.
The outcome is uncertain and therefore perhaps too scary to consider.
Lets go back for a moment.
Way, way back to when you were a baby. You came into this world with no knowledge of how it works, no understanding of the path in front of you and what it would take to learn to walk, to talk, to make friends or to keep yourself safe.
And yet you are here today having grown beyond babyhood with a range of skills and understandings which allow you to function and to be successful.
Did those abilities fall into your lap without you having to do anything? Or did you have to take a risk to stand, a risk to make a sound or take a chance on rejection to make a friend?
As a mother of two, I watched my children develop and grow over the years. I saw them fall down many times before they developed the strength to stand. I watched as they took their first steps without holding on to anything. I listened as the strange unintelligible noises they made slowly became words I could understand. I watched their frustration as they tried to make me understand what they were trying to say.
Did they give up? Of course not.
Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tip-toe if you must, but take the step
I recently fell down a flight of stairs and broke my heel bone in 4 places. Due to the severity of this injury, I was unable to put any weight on my left foot for 12 weeks. I was completely reliant on my crutches and with both hands busy supporting me, I was unable to complete the most basic of tasks.
Whilst I could get myself to the kitchen to make a cup of tea, I couldn’t carry it to my chair. I was unable to shower myself and needed the help of my partner to do almost everything. As a fiercely independent person, my lack of mobility and inability to drive was very difficult to adapt to.
After 12 weeks of total inactivity, do you think I just stood up one day and started walking?
Of course not. All the nerves, tendons and muscles in my foot and my leg had gone on strike. They simply turned off as they were not required for 3 months. And my brain had reprogrammed itself to protect my injury by ensuring I didn’t put weight on my foot even if I needed to get up in the night.
The first time I tried to take a step forward with my left foot during a physiotherapy session, I completely froze. Initially I couldn’t make my leg move as it was rooted to the spot in fear. Although my leg would physically support me, my mind refused to believe it. It took many days of practice before I could step forward without having to ‘psych myself up’ first.
The great thing is though, that once I took the first step and could see that I was okay, my brain and I came to accept that walking was a possibility. That one step could lead to another and that with time and practice, I could rebuild my strength and regain my independence.
Now 18 weeks since my injury, I am walking slowly, can manage stairs, carry my cup of tea and I can drive short distances. My confidence is returning and although I am still hyperaware of my environment and potential risks due to some instability, I automatically get out of bed and walk to the bathroom in the morning. In just a few short weeks I have gone from complete reliance on crutches to walking relatively comfortably.
You might ask what this has to do with the subject at hand.
For me, my recovery has become a metaphor for my life.
I could have chosen to let my fear stop me from taking that first step. I could have allowed my brain to continue to believe it needed to protect me from pushing through the pain. I could have allowed the pain to stop me from doing the exercises which would give me the strength to walk again.
But I didn’t.
Sure in this case, I had walked before so I knew it was possible.
However, the doctors told me my foot would never be the same again, that I would take 2 years to regain 80% of my movement and that I would be lucky to come out of my injury with a painless limp. They also seemed to believe it was a given that I would never wear heels again!
I decided right away, that that prognosis was not good enough for me, that I would recover fully and regain both the strength and flexibility that I had experienced before my injury. It has not been an easy road and there have been many times when I have struggled to find the mental strength to keep believing, to be patient and to push through the sometimes excruciating pain.
But I can tell you its been worth it.
If I could guess at a percentage figure right now, I would say I’m at 80% after just 4 1/2 months. I’m not wearing heels yet, and can see it will be a while yet, but I absolutely know I will wear them at my Godson’s wedding in November.
What’s the alternative? That I would never walk properly and be reliant on crutches for the rest of my life? That would have been a certainty if I had not been prepared to push through the fear and pain.
What about you?
Will you settle for a life of mediocrity because you allow your brain to tell you its too scary? That you don’t know what will happen so you’ll do nothing? To automatically believe you will fail without even giving yourself a chance?
What would happen if you just said YES?
You may discover that within you is a power you never knew about. You may realise that you have nothing to be afraid of and that you are far more capable than you ever dreamed.
Or perhaps things may not work out as you hoped but you discover instead the one ability, the one opportunity that will change your life forever. You may finally find that everything you ever wanted but didn’t dare hope for is right in front of you.
You will never know unless you take your heart in your hands and take a chance.
What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?