(Estimated reading time 4 minutes)
Have you ever practised something small that has a huge impact?
I have, and it’s one of the things I’m proud of as I look back over the past few months. The skill I’m practising is learning to create from the moment. It’s something that has always been frightening to me because it magnifies any self-doubt that is present and, in my mind, makes the possibility of failure much higher. This practice is about letting go of the plan. Having a plan is not bad but having the ability to let go of it and trust yourself to create something spontaneously is powerful. It often touches people around you in a way that what is pre-planned cannot.
Some of the self-doubts that might creep in as you think about letting go of the plan might be some version of thinking you won’t know what to do, or you’ll end up looking like a fool and a failure in front of others. I was reminded this week that practising creating-from-the-moment is helping me to have a different relationship with failure. Once failure was something I avoided at all costs. It was something that made me feel not only had I done something wrong if things went awry but somehow, I was wrong – as in, it was me being me that had made things not work. Have you ever heard the whispers of “not enough” in your head?
I still don’t love failure or spontaneity, but we currently have a less complicated relationship.
Training in this skill is about learning to let go of needing to have a plan. It’s about using what is in front of you as a starting point. It’s about trusting that you are enough in this moment, as you are, without lots of planning and preparation, for whatever is in front of you. This skill has helped increase my confidence in so many different settings including (but not limited to) making small talk at social or networking events, leading worship more effectively at my church and coaching clients.
A Simple Exercise
Intrigued? Learning to dance in this moment is a cornerstone of the coaching training I’ve been doing over the past nineteen months, but there is another place I’ve been learning this spontaneous-creation through a simple, practical exercise at Toastmasters. It took me a long time to even have the courage to get up and try this, but it has made a significant impact on my confidence and abilities to be flexible and create spontaneously.
The exercise is called Table Topics, and if you’re not aware, Toastmasters is an international organization that teaches public speaking, communication and leadership skills. The premise in Table Topics is that you agree to speak for one or two minutes without knowing what you are going to talk about. You walk up in front of the group and are handed your topic, and then you practise saying whatever you can think of for the allotted time. There is a slightly less intimidating version of this which our club allows those who are starting out (I think they started it just to get me up there!) It involves the option to know the topic a couple of minutes in advance. Both these versions of Table Topics are instrumental in helping build confidence and trust in your ability by learning to create in the moment. There is an “at home” version of this that I promised I was going to work on to get myself prepared to do this in front of others. I’ll tell you upfront, I never did it at home, it was too hard for me. (In essence, you watch TV, and every time there is a commercial you mute it and talk aloud for two minutes about the product they are advertising). If you’re squirming even thinking about the “at home” version, I’ll tell you, there is something important about the expectation to try this when you are at Toastmasters. It actively encourages you to step into your discomfort within a safe and encouraging environment. The uncomfortable zone is the place you don’t want to go where all the transformation happens. (Actually, this is also a great description of what makes coaching powerful. Coaching encourages you to step into the uncomfortable zone, the place you don’t want to go, where all the transformation happens.)
As I think about the past months, learning to create in the moment is one of the things I’m proudest of.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
If you’ve been thinking about coaching, now is a great time to connect with me. I am very close to getting my C.P.C.C designation and as such my rates will be increasing in September 2019. If you start coaching before the end of August I will hold my current rates for you for 6 months.Sue Das, Courage Coach, Writer, Speaker