Roller Coasters or Highways?
Earlier this week I spoke at the Women in Leadership and Business Conference. The event was designed for executives, managers and entrepreneurs. The night before my speaking engagement, I was asked to host a table of participants for dinner. There were five women who joined me and I had the opportunity to get to know each one of them a little bit.
One of them shared two very interesting facts about herself…
1 – She is terrified of driving on the highway and literally feels like she’s going to die even when her husband is doing the driving.
2 – She LOVES roller coasters.
At a surface glance, it doesn’t quite add up, does it?
As it turns out, she also gets very uncomfortable each time her executive team changes and she is thrown into a new situation where she doesn’t know what to expect. She asked me to help her figure out what her executive team is thinking so that she can be more prepared for what they have to throw her way.
The pattern that started to emerge for this woman is that the lack of predictability is a real challenge for her. Driving on the highway is unpredictable because one never knows what the other drivers are going to do. Roller coasters, on the other hand, are very predictable – while it’s a thrilling ride, there are no real unknown factors. Getting new executive teams every few years falls in the highly unpredictable category. She was pretty stunned when I shared my observation with her and started to identify other places in her life where the lack of predictability has created anxiety and prevented her from taking action.
“I would never, ever go on stage and speak in front of a crowd. I would just freeze right up. That would terrify me,” she said.
I gave her some information that might give her an opening to face this particular fear. “Tomorrow when I speak, there will be a few opportunities for you to volunteer and come up on stage with me. I encourage you to think about volunteering. I am not forcing you – but I think it would be a great thing for you to do.”
The next day I saw her, right before my presentation. She told me that she’d been thinking about my suggestion all night long and that she was seriously contemplating coming up on stage as one of my volunteers.
SHE DID IT! She was my second volunteer! I shared with the audience just how courageous she was to come up on stage and they gave her a rousing round of applause. While she was up there beside me I asked her what had changed in her thinking that allowed her to take such a terrifying step. She said, “I trusted you.”
My heart swelled up – but her trust in me didn’t nearly knock my socks off as much as the next thing she shared with me.
I saw her later that day at lunch. She stopped me as I was walking by.
She said, “You’ll never guess what happened!
“What happened?” I replied, filled with curiosity.
“A woman stopped me in the corridor and said that I inspired her to face her own fears. Can you believe it? I inspired someone! Me!?!” Her face beamed with pride. It was one of those moments that I wished I could have captured on film.
We agreed to follow up our meeting with another conversation to discuss how coaching could help to provide her with some critical strategies to handle the unknown and the unpredictable with a lot less anxiety and a whole lot more power.
Very often, the starting point to attaining your goals is simply becoming aware of how your thinking is affecting you. The next step is deciding to find a way to shift your thinking.
Click here to take an assessment that will help you discover how your thinking is affecting you right now.
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Have a GREAT day!