Recently, I was coaching a senior manager. In the first session he had to pick three visuals that best reflect his situation, feelings or desires. The above visual was one of them.
You know what, Jan? He said. It is strange but I was most successful when I was bold in what I was doing.
I asked him, how often he has been bold. He explained: Not often enough! I used to be focused on my dreams, spontaneous moves and simply positive sides of life, when I was in my twenties. With all the responsibilities around my family, job, paying invoices, gaining weight and being concerned about my health, I’ve got more and more scared.
Scared of what? I asked.
Of all kind of things. He continued. What others will say about me. If I manage at all. Of not having a job. Of disappointing my parents. Of looking dumb to my parents in law. Even of myself lying in bed and feeling ashamed of who I have become. He stopped here.
But you have been successful after all, in your life, haven’t you? I asked.
Oh, yes. He replied. By all the common standards, I was. But I could have been more happy.
By your own standards? I wondered.
Exactly! He confirmed. I have achieved everything that one can achieve by planning, being in control all the time, swimming down the stream, with the stream… But the real successes…The ones I care about happened when I was swimming free style. And often against the stream. With less control but 100% passion and conviction.
But you can still do it again. You are just 50. I thought.
You know, Jan, I try to teach it to my kids. I’d like them to know that life is not about pleasing others. And it is not about pleasing your scared inertia. Planning and controls are ok but they are overrated and for some even the only things to please. He responded.
The time left is the right time
Our career, well our life, is a constant balance on a thin line. Taking decisions, reacting to external moves, winds or shakes. We keep moving forward while balancing and hoping not to fall down.
Some of us look for a safety net. It might come in all kind of forms and prices. It makes us feel more comfortable and relaxed. We might then take different decisions or moves as we feel protected. There is nothing wrong in going safe.
The safety net looks beautiful and calming. Almost destructing the one who is supposed to move on and balance. But wait a minute… What is it? Is it a gigantic spider down there?!?
The safety net doesn’t make me safe anymore. It makes me a victim, a food… What went wrong?
GOING SAFE MIGHT BE GOING RISKY…