The call you never expect, news you can’t believe but which sinks in slowly over time. A couple of weeks ago, I received one of those calls at work. A co-worker and friend had passed away unexpectedly, at what I consider a young age, 62. The pain that rippled through my workplace in the following days was palpable as we shared in fond memories and sadness.
Yesterday we concluded that chapter with a Celebration of Life. As people shared fond memories of a man who lived a full life, I thought about my own. Which, I think, is not an atypical thought process. As we remember others, we ponder how we would be remembered. Who would show up to celebrate our life? It’s not reflection for the sake of a popularity contest, for me, it’s wondering about the positive impact I’ve been able to have on other’s lives.
Not the first time I’ve gone down this path. Reaching midlife also prompts reflection on the impact we’ve had. It’s not as much about my own experiences as those I’ve shared. The people I’ve engaged with throughout my life. How I’ve shown up.
Coming on the heels of being at Dare to Lead™ facilitator training this week, a theme continues to bubble up for me.
Be Brave Sooner
I have a heightened awareness that I’ve lived a safe life. One that minimizes risk of failure. One where there is a built-in back-up plan. I prepare for disappointment which keeps me safe but keeps me small. A couple years ago, I made my word for the year Brave. And I was. I took chances, spoke up, leaned in. But somewhere along the way, I dialed it back. I started playing it safe again.
Normal, I think, to ebb and flow in life, but when being brave started slipping from my grasp, I could see the ripples in the way I showed up in life. The decisions, the way I engaged. Safe. When we’re brave, we have honest conversations, we speak up, we’re vulnerable and courageous.
Perfectly summed up in one of the slides from training.
“You can’t get to courage without rumbling with vulnerability – Embrace the suck”
100% get that. Vulnerability can be hard. It’s part of being brave, but it does suck at times. It’s hard. You can’t phone in being brave, being courageous. It’s a step by step process of being vulnerable. That doesn’t mean doing the verbal vomit with every single person you know. It’s being vulnerable with those you do life with, the people that matter. Stepping into uncertainty and being real instead of the polished façade.
Making brave, courageous choices in the way we engage is what leads to a celebration of life. Playing it safe may feel great in the moment but leaves a small footprint. Wouldn’t you choose to look back on life and know that you were brave, courageous, lived fully and engaged with others? It’s a choice. It takes practice. You can do it. Be Brave Sooner.