I have a favorite metaphor. I don’t know if many people have favorite metaphors, but I do. Here it is. In high school I was on the swim team and played water polo in college. Over those eight years, between practices, double sessions, meets and tournaments, I dove into the pool hundreds, maybe even thousands, of times. You would think that over time this process, the process of immersing myself completely in cold water, would get easier. It never did. I would stand at the edge of the pool, warm, dry, staring into the clear blue water. It looked inviting, but I knew the truth. It was cold. Breaking the surface of that water was going to be uncomfortable. Only for a moment, but still, uncomfortable. Minutes would go by and I would stand there, just staring. I knew what I had to do, but knowing didn’t make it any less uncomfortable. At some point, I had to make a move. I had to leap. And once I made that slight motion to leap, gravity would take care of the rest.
I use this metaphor a lot. Every time I don’t want to do something or know it’s going to be uncomfortable, I picture myself standing on the edge of the pool. I stare in, dreading the discomfort. I use the metaphor because I know that all it takes is a small motion forward and I’m committed. I don’t need to sign up for everything at once. All I need to commit to is a small motion.
Nowhere does this metaphor resonate for me more, than when I’m faced with putting myself out there.
Putting myself out there. Just the thought of it sends bolts of dread through my body like lightning. It starts with a tightness in my gut and then radiates out to my fingertips and toes, contracting every muscle along the way. Once the dread has paralyzed me, it retracts back in, only to get stuck in my throat where it renders me unable to speak out in my own defense. So yeah, for me, putting myself out there is uncomfortable.
Yet, here I am. Writing a blog, posting it on my website, sharing it with everyone I know. Opening myself up. Writing from my heart. Being vulnerable. [cue panic attack!]
So why am I doing this? It’s a reasonable question. If putting myself out there is something I hate so much, why do it? There are plenty of coaches and business owners who do not blog and are very successful. It’s not required. No one is forcing my hand. No one is even standing beside me giving me a gentle nudge and saying, “you really should do this.” So why do it?
I do it because it is uncomfortable. Because I know that the discomfort is where the growth happens. By challenging myself to do something uncomfortable, I’m stretching my boundaries. I’m expanding my range. I am redefining what is possible. I don’t want to live safe. I don’t want to stand on the edge of the pool. I want to dive in.
So now, I’ve made the decision. I’ve accepted the challenge to put myself out there in a meaningful way. I am making the choice to be honest and heartfelt and not to focus on the expectations or reactions of others. Putting my words, my thoughts and my emotions out there for the world to see is terrifying. However, the personal growth and learning that will happen when I do this will be worth every bit of discomfort.
One thing that I’ve come to realize about my metaphor over time is that it’s not actually the motion that sets us into action. Ultimately it’s the choice to make the motion that starts it all. Once the decision is made to leap in the water, to be ok with discomfort, to be vulnerable, gravity will take care of the rest.
I choose to leap!