We are granted one precious life to become the best version of ourselves. As human beings, our capacity for learning and growth knows no bounds. So, why not harness this unlimited potential? Grab your favorite beverage (maybe save the wine for later if you’re at work), take a deep breath, and let’s do some soul searching.
Creating Your Vision
Close your eyes and visualize the leader you aspire to be. Picture yourself confident and capable, leading with excellence. What skills would transform you into that extraordinary leader? Grab a notebook or journal, and jot down 1 or 2 skills you can develop, and let’s get started on this transformational journey.
No matter what the level of your ability, you have more potential than you can ever develop in a lifetime.James T. McCay
A True Leap
Let me take you back to an unforgettable leadership workshop experience from the early days of my career. We were equipped with climbing gear and taught how to rappel. Our challenge? To climb a set of stairs leading to a high ledge and then descend gracefully using the rappelling technique. As I peered over the wall, my nerves were on edge, and I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a way for my employer to trim the workforce.
In our group, several were afraid of heights, but together we mustered the courage to scale down the wall. We formed a tight-knit support system, encouraging each other every step of the way. Facing our fears head-on, we embraced the challenge and emerged proud of our accomplishment. The growth we experienced during this exercise was truly remarkable.
The exercise was about pushing beyond our comfort zones. Surprisingly, as frightened as I was initially, after conquering the wall, I felt an urge to do it all over again.
Small Steps and Big Leaps
Leadership is all about embracing change, tackling new challenges, and encouraging your team to do the same. But leaping doesn’t always mean taking literal jumps off walls. It could be something as common as public speaking, which terrifies many, or even the unease of networking events that makes us retreat to corners with eyes glued to the floor.
Growth is a gradual process that demands the creation of new habits, unwavering commitment, and consistent effort. The key is to start, especially when something scares us or makes us squirm. This is when a well-calculated leap can set us on the path to progress.
For instance, let’s say public speaking is your fear. Totally get it! But you can crush that fear if you commit to overcoming it. Start with baby steps like reading books on how to nail it and practicing your moves in front of the mirror (you can pretend you’re giving a TED talk, no judgment here!). And then, one day, gather up the courage to face that crowd – even if it’s just a small one. And when you do it, that’s a win, celebrate it!
Or, if you’re feeling extra bold, why not challenge yourself to go big? Commit to 10 public speaking engagements! I know it sounds intense, but imagine the progress you’ll make. You’ll be blown away, trust me!
Staying in your cozy comfort zone is like sipping hot cocoa on a snowy day – comfy as heck, but it won’t make you grow. To be our best selves, we must be willing to leap into the unknown, even if we stumble along the way. Embrace the falls, the lessons, and the wins – that’s how you level up!
So, what’s that one thing you want to get better at? What is it that you know would elevate your game, but the fear of trying holds you back?
My Leap Story
Allow me to share a significant turning point in my career – a leap that brought both challenges and personal growth. Now, I won’t claim it’s some Hollywood blockbuster, but it was a game-changer for me.
At the time, I was in my happy place at work, confident in my abilities, and aiming for a senior leadership position, but two pesky challenges were holding me back. First, I was shy and awkward in conversations with strangers. Networking? Not my strong suit, and I knew I needed it to climb that career ladder. Second, my job’s expectations took a turn, and I had to make outbound calls to customers – a whole new ball game back then. That phone was my arch-nemesis. I’d do just about anything to avoid it! But how could I lead and inspire others to do it if I couldn’t stomach it myself?
I reached a turning point and decided it was time to take action. I knew staying in my comfort zone wouldn’t lead to the growth I desired in my career. So, with a mix of fear and determination, I took a leap – I left my stable job, complete with a steady salary and benefits, and ventured into the world of commissioned-based financial planning. This decision was far from easy, but I saw it as an opportunity to acquire the skills I needed for my professional advancement.
Every day, I sat at my home office desk, pushing myself to make 30 cold calls in pursuit of appointments. I was terrified of failing, and some days, I even shed a tear or two because of all the rejection And I had to embrace that dreaded ‘N’ word – Networking. Who would’ve thought?
Over time, calling got a little less terrifying, and my skills improved significantly. My financial planner job lasted about two years, and I can’t say I made it rain with cash, but that wasn’t the point. The lessons learned and the growth achieved were immeasurable. This leap of faith shaped me into a more capable and confident individual, both personally and professionally.
Expected and Unexpected Developments
As fate would have it, my passion eventually led me back to a leadership role, but this time, I returned as a transformed leader. I had elevated my skill set and my confidence.The once intimidating task of calling customers was now a breeze. Compared to making a cold call, picking up the phone to have a chat with an existing customer was like having a steak supper after being forced to eat liver.
Surprisingly, that wasn’t the only benefit that surfaced from my leap. I found myself feeling at ease when conversing with people in any setting. Gone were the days of hiding in corners during networking events and I even started chatting with strangers in elevators – talk about a complete change! Not only had I honed various skill sets, but my personal brand also grew stronger.
The Process of Leaping
Leaping isn’t confined to the workplace; life leaps can be equally transformative. Any experience that pushes you beyond your comfort zone qualifies – whether it’s going back to school, conquering public speaking, learning to drive, or even stepping onto an airplane despite your fear of flying. What truly matters is understanding the reasons behind your leap and how you approach it.
If you are contemplating a leap
- Know what you want to achieve and why – Reflect on your goals and motivations. In my personal leap, I knew I had to develop my communication skills and break free from my shell to progress.
- Determine how – Just like our wall rappelling experience, planning is key. Set clear goals and equip yourself with the necessary tools and guidance.
- Commit – Declare to yourself, “I will.” This simple affirmation sets the wheels in motion.
- Get support – Leaps can be daunting, and having a support system is invaluable. Seek encouragement and guidance from your partner, friend, mentor, or coach.
- Leap – Now is the moment to take that bold step over the ledge. Embrace the fear and dive into the unknown.
What’s Your Leap?
So, remember this – sometimes, taking that big, scary leap into the unknown is precisely what you need to level up a skillset. It might not go as planned, and it might not fill your pockets right away, but it will change you in ways you can’t imagine. Embrace those leaps! The future is calling, and it’s time to answer with a hearty “YES!”
Welcome to a journey of self-discovery and growth! As you’ve read about the transformative power of taking leaps, it’s time to examine your own aspirations and fears. Grab a journal and consider the self-reflection questions provided below. Writing down your thoughts and insights can be a powerful tool for gaining clarity and tracking your progress.
What are some specific areas in my personal or professional life where I feel a bit stuck or apprehensive about taking the next step?
Are there any skills or abilities I wish to improve that I know would significantly elevate my performance as a leader or in other areas of my life?
Have I identified any fears or discomforts that might hold me back from achieving my desired growth and success?
What potential benefits do I envision from taking the leap, both in terms of personal development and professional advancement? How do these potential rewards outweigh the risks or challenges involved?
What specific steps can I take to plan and prepare for the leap I want to take?
Do you have a personal growth story? Encourage others by sharing your leap stories in the comments!