“As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal.” Robin S. Sharma
With great risk comes the possibility of great rewards. Many of us don’t dare to question the status quo and continue to reel under the pressure of our habits. Habits sometimes hold us back and may even be responsible to stymie our growth.
A wonderful old story that I had read and love to talk about is of the Monk, the cow and the cliff.
Long ago, a Monk set out on his travels across a faraway land. Night was falling, and he needed somewhere to shelter. Eventually, he found a humble shack, in the middle of nowhere. A poor family lived there and the mother, father and children were dressed in rags. The Monk asked if he could spend the night there. “You are most welcome to spend the night,” said the father. They prepared a simple meal comprising fresh milk, cheese and cream and the Monk appreciated their simple generosity greatly.
When they finished eating, the Monk asked them how they survived in such an isolated place, so far away from the nearest town. The wife told how they survived. “We have one cow. We sell her milk to our neighbours who do not live too far away. We keep enough for our needs and to make some cheese and cream–that is what we eat.”
The next morning, the Monk said his goodbyes and set out to continue his journey. Close to the family’s little hut, he came across the cow. The Monk pondered for a moment before leading the cow to the edge of a nearby cliff and pushing it over the edge.
Several years later the Monk again passed that way and found himself on the same road where he found lodging so many years ago. Driven by a sense of curiosity he visited the family. He rounded the curve in the road and to his surprise; he saw a splendid mansion, surrounded by landscaped gardens in the place where the little hut used to be. The Monk knocked on the door. The father of the poor family answered, now well-dressed and looking healthy. He recognised the Monk immediately and invited him in, inviting him to stay as a guest.
While they ate, the Monk asked what had changed in the years that had passed. The father explained how the family’s fortune changed. “You know, we used to have a cow. She kept us alive. We owned nothing else. One day she fell down the cliff and died. To survive, we had to start doing other things, develop skills we didn’t know we had. We were forced to come up with new ways of doing things. It was the best thing that ever happened to us! We are now much better off than before.”
The old Monk smiled.
We all feel stuck at some point in our careers or in our lives. This emotion of Feeling Stuck comes when one is engulfed in anxiety. Fear drives us to remain frozen. In my career, I have had this feeling at crucial junctures. While on one hand I wanted to accomplish something in life, on the other hand the fear of treading on the unknown path, kept me stuck. Truth be said, one does not want to bring a change in life till one is pushed to the wall.At times such as these, it always helps to get different perspectives
My organization had recommended my name for a foreign posting. While I was excited and honoured to be selected for the job in a different country, I was procrastinating the move. I had several questions in my mind that bothered me. Things like, will I be comfortable in the new culture, will I be able to perform as expected, what will happen to my children’s education, will they like the new country and the list went on and on. My mentor stepped in at the right moment and offered me perspectives that helped me decide and make my decision before the due date given to me for accepting the offer. I realized that not only did I accept the offer, but also had worked out a plan to read up on the new culture. I had talked to my colleagues in the new place asking for suggestions for my child’s schooling. I had planned out all my personal work that would get impacted by my absence for the duration of my stay in another country. I was ready for the transition.
Had my mentor not pushed me, I would have let the opportunity pass by because of my resistance to make a change. My habit of procrastinating would have impacted my career and I would have to settle for being in the same role. My dream of getting global experience would have shattered if I would have continued to stay paralyzed because of my fears.
Responding to Change
Some life changing moments compel one to think and upskill. My friend recently lost her job because the company went in for automation of all mundane task. Without losing much time, she pursued her hobby of jewellery designing and joined courses that helped improve her skills. While she was on the job, she was reluctant to pursue this hobby and start a venture from it. Only when the door to her day job closed on her, she could change the direction for the better. A life turning event like the job loss made her push out the old habit of procrastination and embrace the change.
Change we all know is the only constant in this life. Charles Darwin, rightly said
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
All of us have some cow we need to push off the cliff. My friend pushed her cow that was holding her back for several years. How about you?