We might think that once we take the first step we can never go back. We can never un-know what we learn by taking our first step. We might also think that our life is better without the risk of that first step. Or that a first step might be really hard. Or that we must give up too much in the taking of it to make it worth the risk. Or that someone else will do it better than we can. Or that someone will laugh at us. Or criticize us. There are as many reasons not to take first steps as there are stars in the sky.
This week, I’ve had the chance to hear about a particularly brave first step, taken by someone who I greatly admire. I first met Mark a long time ago; perhaps even 25 years ago. He was once one of my students. Since then, he has gone on to marry a supportive woman, have a family and a very successful career. He and I have kept in touch. I knew that Mark was following my blog from Toronto. Every once in a while he would send a little note telling me that he had read it and that it had resonated with him.
Two weeks ago, when I wrote about my plans to see as much of Canada as I can during this Canada 150 year, Mark sent a note telling me to add the Invictus Games to the list. The Invictus games were created by Britain’s Prince Harry. The Invictus Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women. Mark currently works for this incredible organization and who are busy organizing the games for Toronto, in September. I sent a quick response telling him that I might have to put the games on my list!
Then on Tuesday evening, after reading last week’s blog, ‘How Much Can You Lift?’ Mark sent me the following email. I have asked him if I can share it with you:
How much can I lift? Great question and this year I am on the path to finding out.
Heaving lifting for me, first and foremost, has begun by dealing with the layers of problem avoidance that have piled up over time. I connected with a friend in Decemberhttp://www.caelaberry.com/ (blog posts Nov 23rd and Dec 6th, were particularly impactful) whose courage inspired me to make positive change in my life. Alcohol - I'm done for good - Day 31 - and I attended my first AA meeting last night. Mental Health - I had the fortunate opportunity to meet and spend time with Bell "Let's Talk" Ambassadors including Clara Hughes (as genuine in person as she comes across in the media) as our Invictus Captain from Orlando Bruno Guevremont was one of the spokespersons this year. This got me to thinking. I work for an organization where one of our primary missions is spreading awareness about mental health issues, we have these amazing, courageous leaders like Clara and Bruno, yet no one in our office or really any place I have worked before has been open about their struggles with mental health. I decided that it was time for me to break this silence in a workplace environment. Last Friday, during our monthly town hall, I shared my 18 year struggle with mental illness and how mental illness has affected my family in so many ways. Though it was a bit scary getting up and doing this, the response from colleagues that were touched and shared with me their stories made it an incredibly rewarding experience.
As you said, when you set your mind to something, opportunities just seem to arise. I have been approached by management to speak to one of our stakeholder groups. In April, I will be heading over to France with Education First, 9,000 Canadian high school students and some of our Invictus alumni for the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge.
Your blog posts have particularly resonated with me of late as I'm in the process of some heavy lifting and many of the positive outcomes will take shape in the celebration of this great country's birthday. Thanks for writing and sharing your wisdom, I know you are helping people immensely by doing this. Howie Mandel said it very well this month, "Words and talking are the cure to all that ails this world".
I was very humbled. My response to Mark was:
This has brought tears to my eyes. Well done, my friend. After your note this week, mentioning, ‘maybe add the Invictus Games to your list for Canada 150’ I was talking to Jim and telling him that you had emailed. I told him that I really am trying to think of a way to go. Then, tonight, this arrived.
My immediate response to you is that I hope you are acknowledging yourself for your courage. You have joined an organization that is all about courage, and you are now walking the talk. This is so easy to say and so, so difficult to do. I commend you. You are brave. And you have no idea who you have already impacted, nor do you have any idea who you have yet to impact. You may never know all of them, but I can assure you, they will not forget you.
Thank you so much for sharing this with me Mark.
I have mentioned in my blog previously, that sometimes all we need to do is take the first step. And when we do, doors open that we could never have foreseen.
I challenge you this week to take a first step. Take a baby step or take a giant step. I have quoted John Burroughs before and it seems fitting to do so again, ‘Leap and the net will appear.’
Take a minute to encourage someone you know who is taking steps of their own. Just like I know Brooklynn’s parents did for her, it is great to have outstretched encouraging arms to walk toward!
Have a great week!
For my brave step, I am inviting you to pass my name on to anyone who might be in the market for my services. Not only do I provide one-on-one coaching, I offer group coaching (perhaps a small group of friends or business associates), workshop facilitation and creation, as well as planning and facilitation of meetings for businesses and groups (team building, communication, strategic planning & leadership). Click here to read testimonials.