By the end of the year, I was really looking forward to the holidays. Truthfully, it wasn't as much about enjoying the festivities as it was my need to take a break. Amidst the flurry of competing late-breaking news reels, commentaries from political pundits, and pressing year-end deadlines, my thoughts carried me to a time and a place where I could breathe ... again. Yes, I'd done it again. I had let all of the "stuff" that was happening invade my personal peace and shift my focus. I believe things can and should touch your heart, cause concern, and evoke you to act with compassion; but never compromise your peace of mind. My personal peace of mind is my sanctuary. We all need a place of peace- - a place where hope resides and our passions flourish.
"I needed to reset -- reset my mindset, reset my focus. I needed to "re-mind" myself of what was truly important to me."
Here are a few things I discovered during my time away.
You can teach what you know, but you will reproduce what you are. You can teach courage, but if you are fearful, you will reproduce fear. You reproduce what you are in others around you that you influence. Fearful leaders produce fearful followers. We have to become what we've taught others to be ... courageous, resilient, and hopeful. We need to recognize the power of resilience and hope.
Resilience is a quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. In other words, resilient people have the ability to manage the unexpected and come out victorious.
Resilient people think differently. They have a set of skills -- sometimes learned, other times innate -- that allow them to persevere, manage stress, and triumph in the face of challenges.
Hope is powerful. Hope is a function of struggle. As opposed to its dark paralyzing cousin, despair, hope energizes and mobilizes us. Beyond that, hope affects those around us, lifting them as well. Hope does not disappoint.
Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen and heard. I recently read a book by Dr. Brene Brown entitled Daring Greatly. In it, she shares the following quote from Theodore Roosevelt.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.
Every day we experience the uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure that define what it means to be vulnerable or to dare greatly. Based on twelve years of pioneering research, Dr. Brené Brown dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and argues that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage.
Brown explains how vulnerability is both the core of difficult emotions like fear, grief, and disappointment, and the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, empathy, innovation, and creativity. She writes: "When we shut ourselves off from vulnerability, we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives."
Daring greatly is not about winning or losing. It's about courage. In our world where "never enough" dominates and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive. Uncomfortable. It's even a little dangerous at times. And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there's a far greater risk of getting criticized or feeling hurt.
But when we step back and examine our lives, we will find that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as standing on the outside of our lives looking in and wondering what it would be like if we had the courage to step into the arena -- whether it's a new relationship, an important assignment, a creative venture, or achieving your mission. Daring greatly is a practice and a powerful new vision for letting ourselves be seen and heard.
Like every other year before it, 2017 brings a new set of challenges. We will have a new President and a new Congress with different ways of thinking and behaving. Things are unsettled. There's concern about protecting the gains of the last eight years, while ensuring that we continue to make progress.
It's time for a reset. We must "re-mind" ourselves of the goals that are still waiting to be achieved. We must focus on finding paths forward. No matter who is in the White House or in charge on the Hill, we must always put our mission first. Ending the epidemic is still our true north.