The Power of Finding Your Way

“Finding your way” is a highly underrated skill that deserves to get its propers.
 
This past weekend I got the chance to explore it when I did some volunteer work for an organization that matters to me. After spending the week feeling  extremely capable at my work with Powerful Presence, it was oddly unnerving to find myself in a situation where a) I was not in charge b) I had no idea what to do and c) I had to make sense of my surroundings with a limited amount of assistance.
 
The good news is that it became clear very quickly that I could take three actions to transform that unnerving feeling to a sense of exploration. These three actions would allow me to find my way: 1) pause 2) breathe 3) pay attention.
 
Pause: Just because I didn’t instantly know how to use a computer dialer to make phone calls to support my organization didn’t mean that I couldn’t find my way through it with a little practice and some information from the people who already knew how to use it. It was just going to take some time. Pushing my mental “pause button” allowed  me to sit still with the  feeling that it was totally OK to not know what to do in my first 15 minutes at the organization.
 
Breathe: The fact that I had paused myself mentally allowed me to just sit there and breathe until someone could come over to me and teach me what to do. The mere act of consciously breathing allowed me to settle in to a mental calm that increased my comfort with just sitting there; it gave my brain a boost as well. Breathing like this is the antidote to the “fight or flight” response that gets triggered when you let any thoughts of inadequacy take over.  It gives your brain the signal to stay focused on what’s happening around you, instead of acting like an inner runaway train.
 
Pay attention: Once your brain gets the signal to focus on what’s happening around you,  it’s much easier to pay attention. All of a sudden, everything around you provides you with the information you need. The longer you pay attention, the more information you can process. This ability  is the key to finding your way through any set of circumstances, whether you’re speaking for the first time, working through a difficult relationship, exploring a transition in your life or simply learning a new skill.
 
Finding your way is a process that requires you to be comfortable with the idea that you won’t always know what you’re doing. When you know that you don’t know, you have a choice:  take the time to learn something new or pretend that you already know everything there is to know so you won’t feel stupid.
 
“Stupid” is a label that comes from our school days, when we weren’t learning something fast enough to suit our teacher; it’s a label that makes it wrong to be a beginner, or to learn things in your own way.  The word has its root in the Latin word for “stunned.” Oddly enough, being stunned means that you’ve been “render(ed) senseless, by or as if by a blow.”
 
When you label yourself stupid, you become too stunned to find your way. When it’s OK to be a beginner, you’re comfortable with the idea that you won’t always know what you’re doing, especially at the beginning.
 
The belief that we’re all beginners at something will allow you to find your way through anything and increase the power of your presence.

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