February 1, 2011
A Slice of Wisdom
What I remember about the last time I went skiing was that I was too scared to jump off the lift once I got on, so I decided to treat the lift like an amusement park ride and stay on to let it take me back down the slope. To my surprise, a return trip was not possible. The only way down was for me to ski down. The one thing I remembered from my ski lessons taken when I was a teenager was how to fall so as to cause the least amount of harm. As soon as I looked down at my destination and saw how far I had to go and how many slopes I had to overcome to get down, I got scared and decided to go for the safe fall. What I hadn’t realized was that falling down and getting up at the age of 14 is far easier than when you are thirty-something. I could not get up without help and because I had to sit in the snow so long to get help, I decided falling was not a good idea. Once I returned to an upright position on my skis, I decided to look ahead, not down. I decided looking to the side or backwards was not an option either, so I just looked straight ahead. Eyes facing front, I enjoyed the view a little better. My heart didn’t race as much. I didn’t get nervous again until I reached my destination and tried another way to stop other than to fall.
The lesson I learned that day sticks with me every time I am faced with a new challenge. Lately, I have found that it is easier to accomplish my tasks when I tell only the people who need to know in order for it to happen. I decided to limit the amount of oversight I let others have on my decisions and new directions. Without other folk’s opinions or doubts nagging in my ear, I am allowed to look forward. I don’t look back at my mistakes or the mistakes of others. I don’t take side way glances wondering “what if?” I don’t try and guess how long it will take to get to my destination, what slopes I have to overcome to get there or what the end result might be. I just look straight ahead. I have been guilty of swooping in on someone’s dream for themselves offering my edited version when I had not dreamed nor authored any of it. The bottom line is that no one knows me or you better than we know ourselves. That is why you or I feel guilty when we don’t live out our dreams or live up to our God given talents and gifts because deep inside we know we took the short cut. We know when we have settled for the safe 9-5 route, instead of reaching beyond the space of our cubicle or desk. We know when we have squelched that voice that wanted to sing and offer testimony to those who would tell us the road is too tough and the journey is too long to realize our dreams. I personally know that feeling of responsibility to do more with my talents; to continue to stretch myself beyond spaces of comfort; to get uncomfortable trying to do something else so that I don’t fail myself.
No one likes to fail or fall, but the truth is we have all done both more times than we can count to get to where we are today. How else would we know what success looks or feels like if we didn’t know the fabric of failure. Just drive the bus. That is what my cousin Tonya told me when I spoke to her about being conflicted about the next steps I wanted to take in my career. Recently, I’ve felt like Jerry McGuire the day he boldly sent out his mission statement and then realized how naked he has left himself to the world. That is how I feel when I boldly push forth crossing out completed task on my “to do” list. There is trepidation and fear as I move forward, but there is also that sense of accomplishment that I am doing my best and being my best. My nephew Khalil phrased it best when he said: “In the car of Life there is a long road with infinite turns with no maps, signs or directions…you just drive…”