This year I have learned a LOT! I have learned a lot about myself; as a leader, student, supervisor, supervisee, family member, boyfriend, colleague, and as a professional.
The most important thing that I have learned this year, however, has to do with being a leader. I was told about a book Who Moved My Cheese, by Spencer Johnson from a great mentor of mine, Dr. Howard London, Provost at Bridgewater State University. He told me a quote from this book, and it has stuck with me ever since. Now, I did not hear of this quote this year. In fact, it was in 2010 that I heard about this quote/book from Dr. London, but this experience has never left me.
“What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?” is the question I ask myself each and every day. This quote allows me to learn about myself and the way I handle/respond to situations each day. This quote (and book- it’s a great read! I highly recommend it!) has helped me to become a better leader, student, supervisor, supervisee, family member, boyfriend, colleague, and professional. Why? Well, its simple, just like the quote…
As you are reading this, ask yourself the question What Would I Do If I Wasn’t Afraid? and I guarantee that you will be able to identify at least one situation, challenge, or experience that this question can be applicable to. Maybe you have a job interview coming up and you are nervous. Ask yourself what you would do if you weren’t afraid, and I bet you can think of at least one thing you COULD DO if you weren’t hesitant or nervous or afraid.
Maybe you need to have a conversation with someone; a student, professor, supervisor, family member, or significant other. This could be a difficult conversation, or a simple one, but by asking yourself What Would I Do If I Wasn’t Afraid?, it can really help you to self-reflect, and maybe take a risk that you normally wouldn’t have otherwise.
I do not think you have to be afraid to use this lesson in your daily life. Maybe you are anxious or nervous, worried or concerned. Perhaps you have been wanting to confront someone, or tell someone how you truly feel, but havent quite mustered up the courage to do so. That is where this lesson comes in handy.
When Dr. London first introduced me to this quote it was at a Presidential Cabinet Meeting. It was me (an undergraduate student at the time) sitting in a room filled with University Officers. HOW INTIMIDATING! Was I afraid? OHH YEAH! Did I wish I had know about this quote before I sat down at the table, you bet! But, boy am I glad that I had the privilege to attend this meeting. It was the most influential day of my life. I was involved with the Student Leadership Institute, and my mentor, Bryan Baldwin, set me up to shadow Dr. Dana Mohler-Faria for the entire day, and it started off with his weekly cabinet meeting…
Dr. London was talking about resistance between faculty members, and how he had to tailor his leadership style to confront these issues. He said, “sometimes I have to ask myself what I would do if I wasn’t afraid, and then let that answer guide my actions”. WOW! I was blown away. I had no idea what to expect during this meeting/day, and this one quote singly handedly changed my life.
I used this quote in my commencement speech, and spoke to over 300 BSU Bears who were graduating on a chilly day in January, 2011. I asked them what they would do if they werent afraid, and to be thankful for all they were taught during their experience as an undergraduate student at Bridgewater State University.
Now that I am a graduate student I ask my self what I would do each day if I wasn’t afraid, or nervous, or hesitant, or what ever the case may be. When I am faced with adversity, challenges, stress, anxiety, or even tired, I ask myself this question and listen to my answer. This question really helps me to focus and challenge myself to take risks, find my courage, and conquer the roadblocks that I am facing.
I challenge you! Ask yourself, right now, what you would do if you weren’t afraid?
What is your answer?
Did you take a risk and listen to yourself?
What was this like for you?