Learning from a Pair of Leaps

Last week was a big one for me, as I took two pretty big leaps- one professional, and one personal. For someone who recognizes the merit of innovation, and longs to see it take hold in so much of what she does, I don’t talk much about how scary that is.

Doing new things is hard. 

It’s hard because we don’t know what they’ll look like when they’re done. It’s hard because we don’t know what we’re doing and we could stumble or even fall (a physical sensation I hate, by the way). I identify deeply with the sentiment that Matt Bloomingdale shared on his blog about it being easier to take risks on things you’ve done before or are good at. But that doesn’t mean that change doesn’t have to happen, or that we shouldn’t try. And while neither of these leaps is anywhere near complete, that step off the cliff has happened. And it’s crazy.

One of my major projects this past year was assessing our dormant involvement program, LEADERS. We worked with students who had previously been in the program to learn why it wasn’t working for them, and talked with new students about what sort of project they would participate in. I worked with our other assistant director to merge a plan he had designed, with a few additional elements to simplify tracking and help our office’s assessment goals. All that was left to do was to do it. Build the program. Put all the pieces together and make it happen.

For a while I couldn’t. It wasn’t procrastination, it wasn’t a loss for what to do, it wasn’t a lack of belief in what I was doing. I was daunted by something that I had never done before, and I let that anxiety govern how I did my work.

The daunting nature of the unknown had been overpowering me in another area of my life- exercise and working out. For the last several years, my wellness has come from running. It’s made my mind clearer, my legs stronger, and my body healthier. But I’ve been scarily intrigued, but until recently intimidated by, Crossfit. But for a long time, I let my brain build walls to guard myself from the idea. “They’ll make me eat Paleo.” “I can’t afford going to ‘the box’.” “What if I get hurt? I don’t want to have to stop running.”

Finally, last week, I just shut up and gave a workout I found online a try. It was ugly. Seriously…ugly. And it was humbling. And necessary. Because I don’t put myself in situations that challenge me like that very often. Being a novice in something is difficult, especially when you want so badly to be good at it. But we all have to start somewhere. And with Crossfit, in my own home with the help of the Internet, that’s where I am. At novice level. I’m learning to be okay with that.

In both my work life and my workout life, I’m doing things that I’m not amazing at just yet. That’s okay. That’s important. That’s life. But I did what I needed to do: I dove in. The first step has been taken, and now two big journeys- building the newly titled EC Foundations and this scary thing called Crossfit- are at their start. I tell students all the time, “it’s okay to be uncomfortable. That means you’re learning.” Now, it’s time to truly believe in that statement for myself.

Have you tackled something new lately? How did it feel? What have you done to keep it from being scary?

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