The fear of appearing inadequate blocks many of us from trying new things. It can feel safer to stick with what we know, even if it means missing out on meaningful opportunities. Courage is a force that equips us to stretch beyond familiarity for the sake of possibility, learning and growth. How do you muster courage when you need it?
Last winter, a colleague introduced me to something called coaching, and she encouraged me to participate in a nine-week training program. According to the International Coaching Federation, the work of a coach is to partner with a client in a creative process that equips them to maximize their potential. Coaches and clients can meet weekly, monthly, or any other frequency the parties involved deem suitable.
I was curious and hesitant about the program. My nervousness increased exponentially when I learned that the training program would require me to be observed and recorded in practice sessions with other classmates. My imagination got carried away with visions of failure and humiliation. What if I’m a terrible coach? What if I instantly forget how to communicate with others the second I’m being recorded?
Thankfully, courage jumped in, and I listened to that voice instead: “Emily, coaching sounds like a valuable set of skills to develop that you could use to serve other people. Release the expectation of instant excellence in all things. Be a learner.”
The intention to shift my focus from “doing it right” to “being a learner” made a big difference throughout every Thursday morning session.
At varying points in the course, I made mistakes. I strung lots of questions together instead of focusing on one good, quality inquiry. I got wrapped up in actively listening to my clients and forgot to make use of thoughtful affirmations. My classmates and instructors created an environment where everyone knew that we were not expected to be experts. The goal was to embrace the experience and glean as much from it as possible.
The program is now complete, and I received my final feedback and a Level 1 certificate a few days ago. This 8.5-by-11-inch document feels like an important memento. It doesn’t represent mastery; instead, it reveals a willingness to try something new. Hopefully this experience will provide fuel for my courage tank!
What opportunity or adventure has been knocking on your door? As you consider the pros and cons, listen closely to courage. Maybe it’s the right time to stretch.
"Holy Everything" is a weekly column by Emily Carson. She is a Lutheran pastor. Visit her website emilyannecarson.com.