Strech Your Career Potential

YOGA 1I 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.

5 responses to “Strech Your Career Potential

  1. Starting my own business wasn’t a problem however developing my skills as a keynote speaker has been a life long struggle. There is always someone a lot more talented than Me! I’m learning that you have to take this journey one step at a time. I’ve also learned that you are never done perfecting the skill. Even the most accomplished will tell you that they are still learning. It’s kind of like preparing for an interview. Once in the interview you just have to be the best you can. Live in the moment and own that you gave it your best. What more can you ask of yourself.

  2. Susan – great points! This part is so true, “no one’s really looking at you anyway.” We tend to worry about what other people are thinking and most people aren’t looking and the ones who are paying attention are probably cheering you on. Take a risk, improve your skills, and have some fun in the process!

    • Janie, thanks for your great points – yes, people do generally want us to succeed, so we might as well get used to playing on the field instead of sitting in the bleachers.

      David, yes, very true to stay in the moment – after all, it’s all we’ve got!

  3. A twenty-something colleague in my office was talking about her personal trainer one day and how meeting her had made such a big difference in her life. Intrigued, I asked her whether or not her personal trainer ever worked with clients that were, ah, way past twenty- something. Afraid to look ridiculous but curious to see what she was talking about, I made an appointment to “go work out.” That was a year ago and I haven’t missed a weekly work out session since. I can now do squats with 10 lb. weights in each hand with the best of them but more importantly getting over the fear of looking like I didn’t belong in the gym has extended itself to taking risks in other areas of my life. The possibility of a key job promotion has suddenly come up at work and instead of thinking that it’s not right for me because I’ll die if I apply for it and get turned down – am instead thinking why not go for it? I’ve become fitter in more ways than one. So, thank you Susan for a great article on taking chances.

  4. I’ve been pondering your point that “no one is really looking at you anyway” and how that can both free you, but also possibly be taken another way. In lots of ways I can easily subscribe to the ‘no one is looking’ idea and just go for it. But I found that when the economy dumped and my job finally went with it, I had to face the full force of how I let myself stay in the background for too long. In essence, everyone knew me but no one was “looking at me” when it counted. Great advice to take the risk of being noticed!

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