I’m hoping that the continued cold weather and snow, that often looks so romantic in early December but that has really lost it’s shine now, will finally leave us but until then I’ve been thinking that we could all use a boost of energy. The kind that we usually get from waking up to sunshine, the sound of birds singing and the hope of some warmth.
It seems crazy but I’ve been noticing that things that usually seem easy to me have recently been feeling burdensome. I can’t quite muster up the energy to feel inspired. Luckily for me, I sometimes get the chance to be with other people who remind me about things I already know but have tucked away.
This week I had an incredible day working with the School Board Trustees from Foothills School Division, in High River. This group has been relatively newly elected and each of them is serving their first term as trustee. This is not a ‘normal’ situation. ‘Normally’ there are a few returning trustees and a few new faces. When this happens, the experienced trustees know the ropes and they guide the new ones along until everyone is feeling comfortable. With the group I am working with, they recognized the potential deficit in their team and decided to take the steps right from the start to create the atmosphere and cohesive team that will lead them forward for the next four years. I have been lucky enough to join them in this journey.
This week, as we got started working on some tough issues, I started with a little question to get them thinking and to discover something new about each other. I asked, ‘What would you do if you knew you could not fail?’
When I first posed the question, there was silence in the room. These are not twenty-year old’s. Some may or may not collect CPP. Let’s just say this is not the first rodeo for any of them. And yet, they were silent. Slowly they chose a partner and started to talk. When we reassembled into our group, they introduced each other using their answers. It was humbling to hear people offer their dreams. Some of the answers could well be lost dreams for one reason or another, but in that moment, the dreams were alive and spoken with the kind of reverence that one uncovers as they mature and start to value the gift of time and choice. One said he would become a doctor; that he had always had the calling to serve in this way. One offered that she would become a pilot.
It was wonderful to hear these ideas and more importantly to notice that even as people talked about what they might do, to notice how their faces lit up. I had joined in this exercise too as there were an odd number of people. I surprised myself by sharing two things: one was that I would bike across Canada, the second was that I would bravely reach out to new organizations that I believe could benefit from my Leadership work.
What was incredibly interesting to me was that when others heard the answers given, they could easily imagine the person not only doing what they had shared but also imagine them doing it with great success. It reminded me that the barriers we believe to be stopping us from doing things are often only visible to us. The person I was sharing with said to me, about biking, ‘Oh that would be easy, just hop on your bike, put a little tent on the back and start out’. I of course had been imagining all of the logistics; planning the route, knowing where I would land each night, trying to figure out money and food, researching the perfect clothing, and on and on until I am exhausted. Her idea may have been simplistic, and it isn’t particularly practical, but the truth is, it could work.
In the course I have been taking with Tara Mohr, she offered us a segment called ‘Let it be Easy’. The idea is to think of new ways of looking at things that typically feel hard for us to do. A great question I’ve been asking myself these days is, ‘How can I let this be easy?’
Most often, my answer to this simple question does not lead me to something I need to DO, rather it leads me to think about a new way to BE or to think. It never leads me to thinking that someone else needs to hop on board in order to make it easy for me.
Many years ago, when I was still packing school lunches for the kids, I found myself dreading the task. One day one of the kids mentioned that they loved opening their lunch and seeing my home-made chocolate chip cookies, a staple in our house. For whatever reason, that comment made me think that when I sent our kids to school I had no control over what their day might hold. I thought that if, on a tough day, the only good thing was opening their lunch and seeing that it was made with love, then from then on, I would pack their lunch with love. Almost instantly, making lunches did not feel like a heavy chore. Nothing really changed in terms of what went into the lunch (although I must admit I did up my game), but my new attitude made the lunch packing feel like a gift rather than a chore. Once I thought about it this way, I never went back.
As we slog through what I hope may be the last few days of this endless winter, I challenge you to try out this new tool. Notice when something is feeling heavy or uninspiring and make a game out of thinking how to ‘let it be easy’.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘How can I let this be easy?’
Elizabeth is a Life and Leadership coach. She works with motivated clients, helping them to realize their goals. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for corporate, public and private groups and provides leadership coaching for individuals and groups. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to begin to take bold steps.