Today, my fabulous intern, Paola, dropped off my new business cards and stationary.
As I opened the box, it felt like I was touching courage, seeing the fruits of my own courage at work, and gathering energy and steam forward to make the difference I am called to make in this world, at this time.
I took out the cards, and wrote a first note to one of so many people who have ‘en-couraged’ me in this process of taking a leap- who have celebrated it as a chance worth taking, a dream worth pursuing, and a work life that is fully congruent with who I am, and my commitment to be a determined and courageous partner to the leaders and teams with whom I work.
A friend posted a quote on my Facebook wall this week that said, “Courage is being yourself every day in a world that tells you to be someone else.” I read it, then walked into a meeting with an executive who is struggling with her development, who is in the ‘contemplation’ stage of deciding whether the value proposition of change is worth the internal struggle and slowing of pace, to reset a style that has gotten her pretty far, but wont take her forward. Her first words to me were, “well you’re awfully cheerful” said with a lot more emphasis on the “awful” part than the “cheerful” part.
She wanted me to be someone else, yes. Someone to match her energy, someone against whom she could rationalize and justify staying stuck. Like most ‘feedback,’ though, what she said really had nothing to do with me, the person, the woman, the human being. It had to do with her, and her decision to invest the energy to dig up that courage from its cocooned solitude, to blow gently on the ashes of its remains. I will cheer for her, work to create a safe space for her to blow gently enough on the smoldering embers of her courage, for it to light into flame.
That is all I can do at this point. Be a witness to her effort, and a support for her not to blow too hard, so that nothing of what was or could be remains, or not to blow too softly as to not awaken them out of fear of their failure to do what is natural.
It is what and how I know to pay this courage forward, with humility, and with gratitude.