Message From Julie: What Have You Stopped Doing?

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I read an article recently by New York Times columnist, Melissa Kirsch. Kirsch shared that she had recently returned to downhill skiing after years away from an activity that once gave her joy. She marveled at the sense of confidence and wonder it provided.

Two days later I read an article by Elizabeth Savetman, one of the teachers at The Mat Yoga Studio where I practice. Elizabeth shared that her husband had recently started playing in a band again after years away from the music scene.  She shared how the joy that a return to something he loves is bringing him – and her as she watches him experience such joy.

A couple of years ago I returned to scuba diving after almost 10 years. A friend and I were going on a cruise that stopped in Roatan, Honduras. She had been an avid diver but had also not been diving in about 10 years.

We dutifully did a refresher course at a local dive shop. It was pretty much a disaster. My fins were so old they disintegrated into thousands of tiny pieces covering the bottom of the pool. My ears wouldn’t clear so I couldn’t even go the 16 feet to the bottom of the pool. And my friend refused to do some of the exercises like flooding and clearing her mask.

Even after all of that we persevered with our plan to dive in Roatan. It wasn’t easy coordinating a dive with the cruise ship schedule. Getting to the dive location was an adventure in and of itself. And I wish I had a picture of the dive master’s face when she asked, and we told her, how long since our last dive. (It was not a look of joy!) We assured her we had done a refresher course (leaving out the details of the experience).

Once we began the decent into the underwater world, I remembered why I love diving so much. The greatest joy though was seeing the look of astonishment on the dive master’s face when we surfaced and she said with amazement, “You are really good divers.”

Often returning to an activity we have abandoned requires us to get outside our comfort zone. The irony is, that comfort zone may not be all that comfortable and staying inside our comfort zone causes us to miss out on much of life. Even though I have gone scuba diving since the escapade in Roatan, I must step outside my comfort zone each time.

As leaders, if we want to foster characteristics such as creativity, innovation, and agility, we need to step outside our comfort zones and encourage our team members to do so as well. And what better way to practice (and model the way for your team) than stepping outside your comfort zone to re-engage in doing something you used to love?

What have you stopped doing that brings you joy? Set an intention now to step outside your comfort zone and recapture the joy, as well as the creativity, innovation, agility, and sense of accomplishment.

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POSTED ON: Emotional Intelligence