I had a conversation with a good friend of mine about the wonderful world of adulting. It’s so interesting how that word turned from a noun to a verb. Adulting is something that we actually perform. It’s a task or a set of tasks that we choose to do, or choose not to do every day. After performing a series of tasks everyday for an amount of time, we then transform into adults. That role becomes second nature to us, but not without some trials.
In having this conversation with my friend, we talked about the first time we both realized that we actually had to be adults. For me, it was when I was finally living on my own and the bills showed up every month. I actually remember calling my mom in a panic because it somehow dawned on my that I was responsible for paying my bills- all the time! She laughed at me. Then after I finished amusing her, she told me that I’d be alright. In other words, “Get over it. We’ve all been there and you’ll be fine.”
My friend and I also admitted to each other that there are some days where we just don’t feel like adulting. Some days, I don’t feel like paying bills, taking kids to their activities, making decisions at work, thinking about wills and retirement, worrying over my parents now that they are getting older, and doing a plethora of other actions that flood my brain. To be honest, it gets scary because as much as I wish I had learned about life before actually doing life, I just don’t know how to do everything. Part of living is learning as you go.
Thinking about this reminded me of a past talk I had with students about leadership. I was asked what successful leadership was really about. Of course I could think of 101 answers to this, but there’s one answer that seemed to not only summarize being a successful leader, but also summarized getting through life as best as one can: Do it scared and rely on others.
Let me explain what I mean by this, as I think that it applies to so much of our roles in life. Most of the things we are called to do are not things we feel prepared to do. We are usually called to do things where we have to dig deep into our resources/tools. In other words, we have the capability, but we can’t do it alone. This requires relying on other people and their skills, along with ours; we also have to expand our own knowledge in order to truly pull off what we’ve been asked to do. I can honestly say that every major thing that I’ve been asked to do has been something I’ve never felt qualified to do. However, the person asking me saw potential and talents that I didn’t see, and luckily I had enough sense to call in my troops to help me get things done. Like the rest of my life, my success has come from using the skill and knowledge I had, while relying on others for the things I didn’t have.
Which brings me to the next part of this saying: do it scared. What fun is life if there’s not a bit of fear mixed in it. I truly believe that a huge part of having a joyful and successful life is being able to move forward in fear. Fear is a natural emotion, but it’s important to decipher if it’s meant to stop you from taking that next step, or propel you. Sometimes fear is used to make us stronger and better. It’s up to you to discern that. Once you’ve done that and decided that it’s important to proceed, move forward with caution, but keep moving forward.
The job offers, the health diagnosis, the aging family members, the new house, marriage, kids, new business: all of it requires relying on others and moving forward with fear. Some things will end up being a home run, while other attempts will end in failure (depending on your definition); however, everything will be done with as fear a partner in crime. So embrace it, let it move with you, and at times let fear guide you- in leadership and in life.
Keep leading and be safe,