Stepping up to the plate

Posted on : 07-06-2006 | By : Lynn | In : Leadership, Uncategorized


When I think of the term, “stepping up to the plate”, I think of a baseball player stepping up the home plate facing the pitcher with his/her bat upon their shoulder ready to hit the very fast and pitifully small ball heading toward their face.  If you guessed that I am scared of small hard objects heading towards my face while simultaneously not having the confidence in the coordination needed from my brain, eyes, hands, arms, body and legs…you would be right! It’s a great analogy nevertheless, especially for those of us who are scared to step up to the plate, it take courage and trust (and perhaps a bit of innocent ignorance too). This phrase is usually spouted when someone wants to talk about leadership and/or taking responsibility.  I’d like to take it a step further and ask you to consider replacing stepping up to the plate with stepping up for your life. Take a moment and think about where you are right now in your life as you are reading this blog.  How do you feel inside?  Are you stressed out?  Anxious? Sad?  Happy? Joyful? Are there any little things that you’ve not handled or taken care of (as simple as paying a bill or as big as balancing your budget) that fly around your mind in a continuous swarm?  If you are a leader in a company, how does each day unfold for you? How do you feel about your day as you look back over it later that evening? Do you take time to look forward, pause, or reflect?  My father sent me a great article from the Academy of Management Learning & Education called, “Developing Sustainable Leaders through Coaching and Compassion”.  This article integrates recent findings on affective neuroscience and biology with well-documented research on leadership and stress.  They argue that leader sustainability is adversely affected by the psychological and physiological effects of chronic power stress associated with the performance of the leadership role. They further contend that when leaders experience compassion through coaching the development of others, they experience psycho physiological effects that restore the body’s natural healing and growth processes thus enhancing their sustainability.  Lots of words to basically say that being in a leadership role is usually very stressful and taxing to your mind, body and soul. And when you experience compassion for yourself and/or you see your team receiving compassion, this helps you to loosen those ties, and slip on a more comfy pair of shoes so to speak.  Compassion gives you room to breathe so that you can do this leadership thing that you do so well, longer and better. 

I don’t mean to be creating images of airy-fairy long-haired peaceful people with flowers in hands running barefoot through your offices (although, in some cases that could be warranted…) but what I am suggesting is to take the time to talk with someone that you can trust and allow yourself the space to get your thoughts out of your head and into the space in front of you, so that you can give your body, your mind and your soul the space needed to keep going.The tricky thing for all of us whether we’re leaders or stay at home moms (or pops!) is to find a person or an activity that we can trust enough to let ourselves just be. 

I have a Coach that I have been working with since early spring of 2001.  Over the years we’ve honed our communication to a fine diamond prism which allows me to laser my thoughts and ideas to her very quickly.  When I moved from Coaching part-time to coaching full time this year, I was very grateful to have a Coach to help keep me on track with my ideas and desires for what I can offer people without letting normal fears and the stress of having left a steady paycheck overwhelm me.

It always helps me to get out of myself and share with another person my ideas, my feelings, and my dreams.  I’ve realized that, for me, writing out the thoughts in my head or talking about them with a trusted person (such as my Coach), allows me to see what magnificence is inside of me (who knew!!). It’s as if some of my thoughts are very dense zip-files of information that I have no idea what all is inside there until I get it out and share it with others.  When we remain imprisoned in our minds and hearts and ramrod ourselves through our days, I believe we invite stress and physical illness right on into our bodies and minds because we aren’t giving a chance for the seeds of our brilliance to germinate and unfold.

In a book entitled, “Not Fade Away: a short life well-lived” by Laurence Shames and Peter Barton, Peter shares his experience with having been a true mover and shaker of his generation and then his experience of learning to love the simplest things in life when he discovered he had cancer. The book very gently takes us through his dying and his awareness-of-life process. 

My hope for you today is that you will look at your life, today, right now, and begin finding ways to really fully live your life and enjoy yourself. Happiness and feeling loved and understood as well as loving and understanding are truly the best medicine for what you want to do in your life.

 Get going, there’s a world waiting for you out there!  


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