This is the post excerpt.
Of Roller Coasters
What happens when you take that leap of faith? When you put yourself out there like you’ve never done before. All your cards are on the table. You’re exposed. You’re vulnerable.
Is every breath a dance of liberation?
Or is every breath a tango of anxiousness?
Do you feel alive or at odds?
Do you question whether there is anything that could better?
Or do you question what it is you’ve done?
Do you want to dive deeper?
Or are you looking for an escape route?
That risk. That leap of faith. That’s your instinct taking over. That’s your intuition.
The rest are questions. Questions we all face all the time. Embedded in them are our doubts and our fears. Our hopes and our dreams. We will never stop asking our questions.
But sometimes, we let our questions stop us from experiencing the very things that make us feel ourselves the most.
Our intuition is our greatest asset. When we go with it, we ride a roller coaster of emotions and feelings that teaches us to be the better version of ourselves. When we fight it, we hide. We retreat. We take cover.
Life is a roller coaster no matter how you look it. But if you love roller coasters as I do, find the fun. Enjoy the ride.
Because, as far as I know, we only get one turn.
Such is the lesson Of Roller Coasters.
I have never been short on confidence. Being short, requires a certain elevated level of confidence which may allow someone who is vertically challenged to stand out a little bit more. Some may refer to it as a Napoleon Complex…which makes me wonder what it’s called when someone who is super tall has confidence? I think it’s just confidence.
Anyway, I digress.
Confidence is something that makes you stand out.
And then there’s cockiness. Arrogance. Which can easily be replaced or used as a misinterpretation or misunderstanding of confidence.
What creates and builds confidence?
When we achieve a level of success it helps to build our confidence. And then there are the inevitable failures…which shake our confidence or knock them down.
I contend that our failures are more the confidence builders than our successes.
Our successes give us a sense of confidence while our failures challenge the core of our confidence and create the building blocks of our successes.
The more lessons I learn, the more I realize I have so much to learn and to grow from, the more confidence I gain.
And then I think about what makes us confident. Someone believes in you and then the spark is lit. We feed off of that. And from there we take over and have to find ourselves. We have to find that place where confidence is grown from within. We own every aspect of who we are. And we are in total control. Whether we use it as fuel is up to us.
I have no doubt about who I am what I am capable of.
Yes, that’s confidence.
I have no doubt that I am in control of the choices that I make.
Yes, that’s confidence.
I have no doubt who is on my team.
And that’s who inspires my confidence.
Erase your doubts about who are you are and know that you have control. And then, gather your team.
It’s all there for you.
Such is the lesson of Confidence.
I’m not one to predict the future. I prefer to live in the moment. Be present in the present.
However, I do visualize.
My visualizations occur when I feel something deeply, strongly.
I begin the process of making it appear in my mind and slowly the image starts becoming more and more clear.
The more I do this exercise, the more likely this translates into reality.
The secret to this is that not one single aspect of the visualization can be negative. And not one single visualization can be about what you want someone else to do. It must be something that you can assume control over. Also, there is no forcing your way to it.
This exercise requires one key ingredient; confidence.
You must maintain a distinct level of confidence in yourself in order that these visualizations have the opportunity to come to fruition.
This confidence cannot waver.
Oh, and one more thing…there are no time frames.
Now it’s your turn.
Think of something you feel deeply and strongly about.
Now conjure up a visualization for yourself. Something that you feel will be a positive experience. Something that will enhance your personal and/or professional life.
Keep going with that.
Now implant that visualization in your mind. Go back to it often. Consider how your strengths and your assets will be utilized to ultimately convert that visualization into a reality. Remind yourself often that you’re in control. Allow that confidence you have in yourself to guide you.
The more your practice this, the more clear that visualization will become.
And as it becomes clearer, perhaps someday it will become a reality.
Such is the lesson Of Visualization.
Just look at it.
There it is again.
Its serpentine quality is so intimidating.
It hooks. It hangs. Hovering over a suspended speck.
The discomfort of questions is wrapped up in its punctuational representation and in its aura that we, as free thinking beings, grapple with constantly.
Questions, like water, can be a source of life and sustainability, or we can simply drown in them.
I have a question for you.
……………………………..just hearing that yields some form of reaction inside of us and how we react to that, shapes the very essence of who we are.
Perhaps you felt a little nervousness. LIke, oh no, what is he going to ask me?? Perhaps you felt a semblance of excitement. Like, Oh cool, he is so invested in me that he wants to ask a question.
On the one hand, it seems we don’t want to be questioned. On the other hand, we want our questions to be answered.
It’s a vicious cycle of interrupted communication.
And yet, we exist as innately curious forces that ping off of one another until such time as we ourselves find some level of comfort in either the answers that we seek or the questions that we have yet to explore.
On the one hand, one might feel interrogated when being on the receiving end of a barrage of questions. On the other hand, one might feel inspired to explore themselves and have their ideas challenged when on the receiving end of a barrage of questions.
And then there’s offering up the opportunity to ask questions.
On the one hand, the invitation could seem an empty one. One might say, “Do you have any questions?” And quietly there’s a hope of just being able to move on. On the other hand, one might say, “What questions do you have?” This is an open-ended invitation with the hope that people think more deeply and reach inside themselves to further seek understanding.
Take a look at this:
Who. What. Where. When. Why. How.
I intentionally put periods after each one because it appears less threatening. If it’s declarative, we’re ok. We’re comforted.
But watch this…Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?
Oh no!!!!! You’re questioning me!!!!!
So, where do we go from here?
That was me giving you think time. That was my gift to you.
And that’s where I believe we must go. That awkward silence that fills the space between the question and the response is the very place we must reside, uncomfortably, in order that we reach a level of comfort with questions. Both in our offering up of them, and in our receiving of them.
So, on this Christmas, my wish for you is to unwrap the questions that you have, invest in others by being receptive to the questions that are posed to you.
And take some think time.
Of all the gifts you may receive today, perhaps the greatest one is the one you already possess.
Such is the lesson of Of Questions.
**This blog post was a collaborative effort using a shared-writing experience model. The topic of vulnerability was explored. Our writing was intertwined and ideas were unraveled to shape this post.
Vulnerability is trending.
Trending in the direction of something that is viewed less as a sign of weakness and more as a demonstration of great internal strength.
Much like “success”, vulnerability has varying definitions and the manner in which we might find ourselves searching for ways to achieve it.
And so I found myself in that place of discomfort. Surrendering myself to those who I put my trust in. Those who took the time to listen and engage.
It shook me. It threatened my securities.
Then something happened. Something unexpected.
I discovered a courage I didn’t know I had. A wave of confidence I had not felt before. And a profound sense of liberation.
In that moment I became my authentic self.
Which took me back to my bench.
I found yet another thing that I wasn’t looking for. And oh, that feeling was there all over again, but seemingly brand new.
It was all at once emotionally exhausting and yet the fingerprints from this overt expression of vulnerability are painted everywhere on me like a badge of emotional honor.
I’m wearing it proudly now.
I am my authentic self. And with that, I am truly present.
Now that I’m out there like this, the dividends are kicking in.
I feel more connected to people with whom I get to share these vulnerabilities. Relationships, the core of our being, are deepening and acceptance of who I am grows each time I let my guard down.
If I hadn’t experienced this, I wouldn’t have believed it.
There is an intensity to this process. A potency that challenges us.
And I can’t think of a more worthwhile venture.
Such is the lesson of Vulnerability.
I am one of those people who has a hard time focusing when someone is talking to me.
Let me explain a little bit of what happens inside of me when I’m engaged in a dialogue with someone.
They start talking. I’m looking at them. That lasts for all of three seconds and then I start looking around them. I’ll see something, maybe it’s a piece of hair out of place or an eyelash on their cheek. I’ll start thinking, should I say something? They’re still talking. As I consider whether I am being considerate or rude about whether or not to say something about the misplaced hair or stupid eyelash, I have not listened to the first thirty some odd seconds of what this person is saying. So, I tune back in, because, well, I don’t want to be rude, and I hear them say something with a voice inflection that basically says, “Can you believe that?” To which, I chime in, “That’s unbelievable.”
That’s unbelievable is a great go to. It seems to work every time. I have said “that’s unbelievable” so many times in my life when talking to people where I ceased to keep listening.
And yet, what’s truly unbelievable, is my lack of listening skill. My inability to be able to focus on the things that people are saying to me. The true meaningfulness behind what they are saying. Not projecting myself onto the things they are saying, but rather working within myself to find a way to increase my communication with these people.
I am also guilty of heading into a conversation with an agenda. Like, there’s something I have to say to this person and no matter how the conversation goes, I must say this one thing. It’s the ultimate trap that impedes true listening.
I was told recently by someone much wiser than I am that he feels that too often people don’t listen to the entire story of what happened. They hear one part and that’s where they draw their feelings from. That’s where they pass their judgment. He asked me why we don’t listen to the whole story.
And when my oldest son told this to me and posed that question, I got stuck.
And the only thing I could think of to say to him was, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Max.”
These are my parents.
They just celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary.
50 years of listening. 50 years of hearing the entire story. 50 years of understanding.
What I have learned from them and what my son taught me is the following:
I will work on these things.
I will listen to myself.
And If I am successful at this, well, that could actually be something that’s truly unbelievable.
Such is the lesson of Listening.
Superman is the greatest superhero ever. Full stop.
Besides fighting for truth, justice and the American way, (where are you now, Superman, we really need you) he had the right idea about something that he probably doesn’t get a lot of credit for.
I’m speaking, of course, about the Fortress of Solitude.
Sure, it looked awfully cold in there. But there’s a warmth to solitude.
When Kal El would retreat to his fortress of solitude, it was invariably a way for him to find himself. To understand better who he was and from where he came. It helped him to shape the decisions he would make and chart a path that always seemed to be for the most noble of causes even if there were unintended consequences.
And yet, he was quite misunderstood. An outcast of epic proportion.
From the outside looking in, he was never really meant to be integrated into the society he crash landed on.
He knew it. He understood it. And he tried to find his way in spite of it.
What if Superman’s greatest power had nothing to do with his physical strength, his ability to be faster than a speeding bullet or leap tall buildings in a single bound?
What if his greatest power was his ability to look inward and seek to find answers from his past so that he could be better for the world that really wasn’t ready to accept him?
What if his greatest power was to recognize that solitude affords us that opportunity. And that all of us have the capacity to achieve that. Even if it brings us to a state of discomfort that renders us vulnerable.
What if vulnerability is a super power?
What if solitude is our pathway?
Being alone does not mean being lonely. Being alone is a place we must accept. We must seek our fortress of solitude so that we may access our greatest superpower;
Such is the lesson of Solitude.