When is the last time you climbed out of your shell? I said your shell, not your rut. Your shell, if it is anything like mine, is that place I climb into when I am fearful of a new situation. I encounter a lot of them and generally I take a deep, deep breath and jump off of the cliff. So far none of the jumps have been fatal.
I stayed with the same employer from age eighteen to age fifty-three when I hornswagled an early retirement. I never had a resume as such but I did create many different brochures that I sometimes sent out a thousand at a time. Sometimes I took a deep, deep breath before I nodded to the program chairperson to get on with my introduction. Like the time I was hired to substitute for the then President Gerald Ford. My dad was in the audience with my mother and it was the first and only time he heard me give a professional speech. I had rewritten my opening line dozens of times and it worked so well that the rest of the talk was a breeze. Still, it was a climbing out of my shell process just the same. That time I was a keynoter for the Toastmasters International Conference in Toronto I knew that nearly every person in that audience probably believed in their heart that they were better qualified to give that talk than I was. I struggled on my opening lines while writing them but they came out just right and it too was a wonderful thrill. Just the same I felt as if I was jumping off a diving board as I walked to the microphone. I’ve had that same, same feeling a dozen or maybe fifty times in my career and every time, I took a deep breath and went forward I experienced the feeling of great accomplishment and personal growth when I survived.
How about you? Have you accepted any special challenges recently…I have and I am headed out of town early tomorrow to take another giant step forward. I’ll tell you about it next week. Meanwhile, why don’t you line up a special challenge you might meet. 
- Originally published on September 28, 2009