This week’s video post is a short and rather candid one. It was a Wednesday morning and my coach/videographer and I were preparing for a day of shooting videos. I was telling her about something that was bothering me and the fear that it brought about —and before I knew it, she hit the record button.
Since the topic of our conversation was the butterfly habitat that I have been blogging about for the last couple of weeks (see On the Verge of Transformation and On the Brink of Change), I thought perhaps it was fitting to go ahead and post this one too. Maybe it’ll strike a chord with you.
Here’s what I said in the video:
One thing that bothered me this week is the butterfly cocoon (chrysalis) that had yet to hatch never hatched. And I realized it’s not going to hatch. So I took it out to the garden and laid it there.
I didn’t realize how much it bothered me until one day I was running and all of a sudden this ball of emotion came out and I realized that what I am most afraid of is being the caterpillar in the cocoon that dies in the cocoon and never emerges — that has undergone a transformation but kept it so hidden that the world never gets to see that.
I feel all of this energy coming inside of me that I think is a result of taking the downtime and asking the questions, and working through my demons – and getting some clarity on needing to be a voice and needing to really help people and get out there and talk about this stuff that everyone is going through, but nobody seems to want to admit.
There’s part of it that’s guilt, like I don’t feel like I’m doing enough. And I was gripped by this intense moment of sadness that if I deny this call, I’m going to end up like that butterfly in the cocoon that never hatched. And, I think that would be the saddest thing in the world and so that was my prayer that day – “God please don’t let me die in the cocoon”.
For more on change and transformation:
Busting Out of the Box (workshop)
Confused mind picture by ktsdesign from Bigstock Photo.
Are you at your wits end in your job, career, relationship, life in general? Experiencing delays, frustration, confusion, and even a little fear? Well, you might be closer to achieving something amazing than you think.
My last post, On the Verge of Transformation, featured an interview with a caterpillar. The above video continues the play by play in the life of a caterpillar, only this time from the inside of the cocoon (or chrysalis, if you want to be technically correct). I hope you enjoy it!
Here’s what I said in the video:
My daughter has this butterfly pavilion that we’ve been raising butterflies in. It’s been days since all the other chrysalises hatched. In fact, we let nine butterflies go out in the garden the other day. But there’s one that’s still in there, in its cocoon. We look at it every day hoping that we’ll catch it as its just emerging and it’s still in there.
I know it’s not dead because when I push on the side of the habitat, the chrysalis shakes gently, which is something that I learned they do to ward off predators. And, I can’t help but think how often we feel this way: we’re in this cocoon, there’s all kinds of change that’s happening, we’re not really sure which direction is up, and we’re the last one. For some of us, it takes longer than others.
If you’re feeling like you’re stuck in the cocoon, I think it’s probably very uncommon. And uncomfortable.
I read a story about a man who actually saw a butterfly trying to get out of the cocoon and used scissors to try to gently help the butterfly out. The butterfly fell out of the cocoon and it’s body was small and shriveled. It just kind of stumbled around on the ground and was finally just still.
What this man learned later was that to get out of the cocoon, the butterfly has to encounter the resistance. In the act of bumping up and busting out of the cocoon, the butterfly’s body fills up with fluid that it needs in order to spread its wings and be free and to turn into the beautiful creature that it is.
It’s such a great reminder to us that just when we feel things are at their darkest, and everything’s closing in and you just can’t take another minute of it — maybe that’s when we’re the closest to actually being ready to bust out. And maybe instead of thinking of all the resistance as overwhelming and exhausting, we can think of it as that final push we need to give in order to just break through into something wonderful that’s just been waiting for us.
For more on change and transformation:
Busting Out of the Box (workshop)
Crazy businessman picture by Stephane Durocher from Dreamstime.
This post is the second in a two part article on listening to and answering your call to greatness. (Click here for Part I.) It is also an excerpt from my new book, The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be.
If you are ready to take your leap, I invite you to call me at (602) 889-2329 for a complimentary coaching session to see how I can support you through your transformation. Next week, I’ll post information about a new program I am rolling out specifically designed to help you bust through the barriers that keep you from your greatest work.
Taking Your Leap, Part II
Anytime you make a decision to go out of your comfort zone, to do something that is new or unusual for you, you will most likely experience a tinge of fear, hesitation, or anxiety. This fear may lead you to question your ability, your likelihood of succeeding, and the possibility of your demise – whatever that may mean for you. It is essential to realize that this fear is a part of your journey as a leader.
It is not necessary to overcome this fear. The key is to use it in ways that serve you, rather than hold you back. Remember the last time you stood on a high dive? You may have felt flip flops in your stomach or a strange surge of energy through your core. Perhaps you turned around and climbed back down. Or maybe you stepped forward, entered the unknown, and bravely leaped off the board.
After having done it once, depending on your experience, it may have been a bit easier for you to repeat the experience. As leaders, we are repeatedly called to dive into the unknown, in spite of our fears about it. We must use the fear to inform us of the dangers, and to provide us with data that will help us make good decisions. But we must not allow this fear to make our decisions for us.
Having faced our fear and moved forward in spite of it, the experience may be positive or negative. Regardless of the outcome, we must acknowledge the progress we have made. If our experience is less than desirable, we can evaluate it and learn from it. Having had the experience, we are wiser for it – far more than we would be if we simply continued to contemplate taking that leap or safely learn from the experience of others instead. And if we are successful, we can build on this experience and use it as a platform for further growth.
There will always be an abundance of people who will tell you why things cannot be done, what there is to fear, and why it is just not worth the risk. Let them speak, but do not be swayed by their doubt. It is based on their own experience of the world, not yours. If you are to lead, you must set the example for others so that they can see that even when you take a risk and fail, you have moved forward and began progress in a direction that would have otherwise been stunted. If you believe you cannot succeed, you may be right. But if you believe you can, you are halfway there.
When was the last time you took a risk to experience something that has been calling to you – something that you know in your heart is for your highest good (and that of others as well)? What happened when you did? What did you learn? And how have you grown as a result?
What is calling to you now? And what small, sweet step can you take to bring you closer to experiencing the exhilaration of moving bravely in a direction that might just take you and others around you to a new level of mastery?
For more on taking your leap:
The other day I was working from my home office when I noticed a man in my back yard. I figured perhaps he was a meter reader from the utility company and went over to the window to get a better look. He was wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and a large straw hat whose wide brim angled toward the ground. In his hand was what looked like a window washer with a squeegee on the end. He looked all around our back yard, glanced over to the back fence, and then proceeded out our front gate. An unsettling feeling came over me as I began to realize there was a very good possibility this man had no business on our property.
I watched as he walked over to a maroon minivan and slouched into the driver’s seat with the door open, waiting, his foot kicked up and resting on the open window. Peering out my living room window, I strained to see if I could make out the license plate. The letters were fuzzy and I couldn’t quite discern them. So I grabbed an envelope to take to the mailbox thinking that from there I could get a better look and scribble down the letters and numbers on the paper. As I walked toward the end of the driveway, the man quickly closed the car door, started up the engine and drove away. I began to run – trying one more time to get a look at the license plate, but the car just went faster.
My heart was beating wildly. I sent emails to my neighbors encouraging them to make sure their gates, doors and windows were locked and to be on the lookout for the red van that I saw. A few minutes later, I settled back into my study only to glance out the window and see the red van again – this time across the street, with the door propped open, and the same man I saw in my back yard sitting in the driver’s seat waiting.
Still looking out the window, I picked up the phone and dialed 911. I did my best to describe the man to the dispatcher and relay the details of my experience and felt a wave of relief when I saw two squad cars roll up behind the van. A policeman walked over to the man and the two of them talked. A few minutes later the officer called to inform me that the man in my back yard was from the irrigation service that comes twice a month to open and close the valve that brings water into our yard.
And then I felt the sting of embarrassment and humiliation followed by feelings of regret and sympathy for this poor man who was just interrogated by the police while doing his job in triple digit heat in Phoenix, Arizona. Compounding my foolishness was the fact that my husband and I have actually met this man and had a conversation with him. He was warm and kind and gave us advice on how to properly irrigate our back yard after having some work done there. I even remembered that his name was Tom.
As the police got back into their cars I walked across the street to thank them and apologize to Tom. “I am so sorry,” I told him sheepishly. “I didn’t recognize you and I was scared.” Tom’s mouth widened into a smile that revealed a few teeth missing. He laughed as he told me, “You wouldn’t believe how many times people have called the police on me. Don’t worry about it.” It was then that I realized that the window washer I thought he was holding in his hand was actually an irrigation tool. I explained to him that what really alarmed me was that he drove away as I was running after him. Turns out he never even saw me – just realized that he was starved and had exactly five minutes to run and get something to eat before the next valve had to be closed.
We had a very nice conversation in the minutes that followed. His eyes sparkled as we talked about his work, his three sons – one of which was having a birthday that day, and his relaxed, let life happen as it comes philosophy. As I walked back toward my house, I realized the power our fearful stories have over our behavior and the way things play themselves out in our lives. I had experienced firsthand the distortion of reality caused by faulty information my mind filled the blanks in with as a result of my fear and panic. I took very few data points and wove them together to create a worst case scenario that had me acting as though it was true. And none of it had to do with Tom himself – only the story I created based on what I was believing about my limited observations.
I can’t help thinking about how that dynamic plays itself out every day of our lives. We all take in limited information and we all create stories about what it means. Most of us tend to operate as though those stories are true. And other people do the same thing when it comes to their observations of us. It was a wonderful reminder to always entertain the thought that perhaps I don’t always have all the pieces of the picture or every detail relevant to the story.
It also made me realize the importance of not taking personally the sometimes perplexing or inexplicable reactions others may have to me – to keep an open mind, and an open heart, like Tom did. To remember that things aren’t always what they seem – and people are not always who we think they are. And to entertain the possibility that at any moment circumstances can change from being frightful to delightful – if I am willing to look beyond what my eyes and my mind are telling me to see what is really there.
Copyright Synchronistics Coaching & Consulting 2010. All rights reserved.
If you liked this post, you may enjoy other articles written about Navigating Through Change, Challenge & Uncertainty. Download these and others for free at www.DianeBolden.com/solutions. While you are there, you can subscribe to receive a new feature article each month. You will also receive my free report on 10 Traps Leaders Unwittingly Create for Themselves – and How to Avoid Them.