I was in the checkout line behind a very attractive, younger looking woman when she suddenly leapt over the counter to rescue her falling groceries to the surprise of both the cashier and me. No way could I have performed that Bruce Lee move! I congratulated her on her agility as she smiled and simultaneously told the cashier she was entitled to the senior discount. “In fact, I’m 68,” she announced! “I want what she’s having,” I said to the wide-eyed checker as I looked in her grocery bag. Something has to give.
When my very competent massage person, Kim, suggested I try Maria, her yoga instructor, I figured it was a sign. Mind you, I’ve taken yoga off and on but only halfheartedly. When the typical 20 something instructor demonstrates pretzel moves only a contortionist could achieve, it’s hard to stay engaged. Maria, on the other hand, had a calm and graceful manner and seemed to embody wellness. I was psyched.
Then she asked the class the sobering question …“No one has eaten breakfast this morning, have they?” Ah, oh. I raise my hand. “I did … the new girl.” Oh, I thought, this can’t be good. Then we got into to the Happy Baby pose. Now, for those of you who don’t know this one, you lie on your back with your legs raised in the air while you grab your feet and rock back and forth just like when you were in the crib. Suffice it to say, Happy Baby can be a dangerous pose if you get my drift. Should I just walk out now, I thought, and save myself any embarrassment? Fortunately, I escaped that class without any undue attention. Okay, but there is that weird tree pose where you stand on one leg hoping not to crash into your neighbor. No, I say, this time I’m committed and willing to withstand any humiliation.
A critical element to keeping your career strong, viable and secure is to learn something new. I’m not talking about the latest Excel version, although admirable as you must keep needed skills up-to-date. I’m talking about learning something that will make you uncomfortable, okay, scare the pants off of you. Ask yourself honestly, “Am I willing to do whatever it takes (even if I feel temporarily embarrassed) to advance my career?” Try this exercise. Take out a notebook and write down the last time you risked being embarrassed. What happened? What did you learn? I know you didn’t die or you wouldn’t be reading this!
Can’t think of anything? What about networking or public speaking – two of the most dreaded career advancers and among the most necessary to develop. Many a career is stuck in neutral in an attempt to save face or avoid exposure. Sure, we have all the excuses in the world, but consider this. If you insist on staying in your comfort zone, you will stay stuck… no two ways about it. The secret to conquering your discomfort or pain is to move towards it. When you do, it will lessen. If you move away from it (i.e., avoidance, procrastination, etc.), it will pursue you like a monster .
Here’s the real truth – no one’s really looking at you anyway. So why not take the risk of being noticed. Remember that adage, no risk, no reward!
If nothing else, the last several months of my yoga classes have taught me about moving forward even if it isn’t pretty. It’s amazing how focusing on the process and not the results can be very liberating. And, yes, I have finally learned why I really do want to be a tree!What about you? No time like the present.