Waiting is a national pastime. We wait for the mood to strike us, we wait for the weather to change, we wait for someone to strike up the band and give us our cue to start singing. Some of us are waiting for them to get about us. You know, about how good we are. They should recognize us and promote us and celebrate us. They should discover us. But that's not how it works.
Here's how it works: People don't get it about us until we get it about ourselves. Until we step out of the stands and onto the field--even before we're invited.
We're waiting for the signal, or for the invitation, or to be discovered, or for the planets to be aligned before we take that step to change our lives or our world. We put our power and our futures on hold and wait for the right moment to present itself. And while we're waiting, our lives, our opportunities, our big moments, float on by. As I've learned, sometimes the hard way, moments don't present themselves; you've got to go out and grab hold of them. And that takes courage.
A word about courage: Recently, a newly retired executive and I were talking about how important it was to make the decision to act. After a long silence, he looked up and said, "OK, Gail, I've decided what I'm going to do. I'm going to write a book."
"That's great!" I said. "You've got a lot to say. When are you going to write it?"
Well," he answered, "I guess I just have to wait for the courage."
"Never wait for the courage," I said. "You could wait a lifetime."
It's true: No one is going to knock on your door one fine day with a beautifully gift-wrapped box and say, "Here's your courage. Where do you want me to put it?" Here's the thing about courage: It isn't given. Which is good, because it can't be taken away.
Courage comes with action. The minute you step forward, the minute you declare your decision, the minute you say, "This is how it's going to go," courage comes. It floods through you and energizes every single fiber of your being. You don't have to wait for it. It'll be there.
The waiting thing has got to go on our list of Mental Throwaways. Whenever you hear yourself say, "Maybe I'd better wait for…"--hold it right there.
You don't have time to wait. Remember? This is the only life you have--at least the only one you know of for sure. And while you're waiting around for the right moment before you decide to try for that corner office, or try for Dancing With the Stars (hey, why not?), or go meet that guy from eHarmony (and you've struck out three times before) remember this: The past can't dictate the future. You're the cause and the effect. You get to decide how it's going to go. Why not make it good? And make it now.
Steps for letting go of waiting for the right moment:
- Don't disqualify yourself from the race before it even begins. You're here to compete, not to sit on the sidelines.
- Make a list of your wins: the times you made the catch, made the call or made the day--yours or someone else's. Revel in those wins every time you face a new challenge.
- Abandon the list of your losses. To embrace your power, you have to let go of your fear of losing or being rejected. Remember: Courage comes with action.
- Just as you're about to step forward and that old voice cries out, "Wait!"--don't listen. Speak up anyway. Present your plan, declare your passion, walk up to the plate anyway.
Gail Blanke will be the keynote speaker at the American Express OPEN Women in Business Summit, February 17-18, 2010, in Houston, Texas. Visit the Women In Business Summit Web site for more information and registration.
Gail Blanke is founder, president, and chief executive officer of Lifedesigns, LLC, a company whose vision is to empower men and women worldwide to live truly exceptional lives. Gail has coached presidential candidates, college presidents, Fortune 500 CEOs, a jazz musician and a stand-up comic. A best-selling author, Gail’s newest book, Throw Out Fifty Things - Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life, was published in March 2009 and has been featured on The Today Show, CNN International and CBS Sunday Morning. For more information, visit www.throwoutfiftythings.com.