What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?  This challenge is often offered in leadership development classes and encourages developing an awareness of:

·      how we get in our own way,
·      how we hold ourselves back,
·      what barriers exist in our own imagination, and
·      inspires risk-taking and courage,
·      pushing us into becoming our best selves. 

Recently a colleague offered me an alternative framing: what would you do if you were 10% braver?  It turns out every day is an opportunity for me to ask myself this question and try something just a little different than what my normal habit or pattern may be. 

What does 10% braver feel like?  In yoga, I historically cannot stand crow pose, largely because I cannot do it.  I have sat in a squat while my classmates gracefully mount into this pose year after year, actually angry at the teacher for asking us to do this pose that to me felt structurally harmful to shoulders.  It is a great strategy, by the way, to get mad or annoyed at others while you are really fearful or uncertain yourself. 

I have tried crow pose over the years, half-hearted attempts that just proved to myself how stupid the pose was and just how unattainable it was for me.  The week my colleague asked me: “what would you do if you were 10% braver?” I tried something different.  I was helped by a teacher who broke down the steps again to move yourself into crow pose, and this time, I followed her, without judgment or anticipation.  And, when I got to the point where you need to not just look forward but really tip your weight forward, I did.  I tipped forward 10% further than I had ever done previously.  And a miracle happened.  I balanced my weight on my hands.  I could feel the weightlessness and joy that was possible in this pose and I suddenly got it, why this pose was worth striving for and practicing. 

I still have not mastered crow pose by any means, but I have seen what is possible and believe it is worth continuing to practice and lean in.  Like any practice, this is one that takes reminding and refreshing.  For this week, I ask myself (and you): what would you do if you were 10% braver?

Conversational credit: Kira Varon, Susan B. Trinidad, and our Vitaltalk conversations on small acts of courage, growing here: vitaltalk.tumblr.com and vitaltalk.blogspot.com.  

08/30/2013 11:30am

Awesome, inspired blog, Kelly. Congrats on your progress in crow pose! I'm being recruited to Chair the Board of Directors of the International Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva Association - I will have to be at least 10% braver.


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