"Courage is the root of change and change is what we are chemically designed for."
Eisenberg, L., & Miele, T. (2023). Lessons in Chemistry. episode, Apple TV.
THE MEAT (The Main Idea)
At its core, Bonnie Garmus, the original author of our quote, captures two fundamental truths - courage and our inherent design for change. It prompts us to consider: that growth is intrinsically tied to change, and the absence of change equates to stagnation. Is it conceivable that the seemingly tranquil state of stasis is a hindrance to progress?
Have you been there - stagnate, in your life, aware that there's more to life if you're willing to be slightly uncomfortable? Yet, you continue to stay in your situation because you lack the courage to make a change? This is precisely the focal point for our conversation - that elusive courage.
It's not just daunting; it's a venture into the messy, the scary, and the risky.
Garmus continues to challenge us, urging us to recognize that we were built for change. Change is actually ingrained in our biology. Our bodies and minds are not static entities. We are dynamic systems engineered to respond, learn, and adapt. Think about the orchestrated release of our neurotransmitters (or chemical messengers) facilitating cognitive flexibility readying our hormones and priming us for action. Our biological makeup is a testament to our capacity to embrace change. So let's continue to explore and dig deeper into real-world examples of people who called on their courage to make change.
THE CHEESE (Added Depth)
Almost two years ago, I found myself grappling with a situation that felt far from aspirational. With over 23 years in education, including a decade in leadership, I had said yes to a position that promised visibility and the opportunity to drive meaningful change in a district. The reality, however, was starkly different- I was tethered to my desk, filling out and filing paperwork, and the job left me far from happy.
As the discomfort grew, I faced a pivotal choice: continue down a path of discontent or summon the courage to make a change.
The fear of judgment and societal pressure to stick with a job accepted just 10 months prior, were very real. The internal dialogue echoed such a move. But at some point, personal happiness had to take precedence.
Two simple questions became my compass during this time:
1) What advice would you give to someone in my position?
2) What was within my control?
The first question allowed me to shift from victim mode to the role of an advisor, gaining a clearer perspective. The response became straightforward- acknowledge the fear, embrace the uncertainty, and recognize the ability to adapt and overcome obstacles. The second question helped filter out worries beyond my control, leaving room to focus on actionable steps. I couldn't control others' opinions about my resignation, but I could control my opportunities for daily happiness.
So, I took the leap, choosing personal happiness over fear of judgment. The realization that the school deserved someone genuinely passionate about every aspect of the job made the decision clearer.
This journey wasn't about changing jobs; it was about taking control of my happiness and health and embodying the principles of leadership I believed in. I've seen firsthand the impact of employee happiness on an organization. Unhappy employees incur costs- substitute payouts, lower productivity, and diminished work quality. On the flip side, happy employees are 12% more productive (according to a study by the University of Warwick and Gallup).
In sharing this personal tale, the aim is to invite you into a conversation about your own experiences. How does the quote resonate with you and where you are in your journey? What small or bold changes can you make to align with your authentic aspirations? It's not about grand gestures but rather the everyday courage to steer your life towards fulfillment.
THE OLIVES (A Surprising Element)
Our unexpected twist is a departure from our normal blogging format.
I want you to pick up a pen (or pencil) and start by responding to these prompts.
1. REFLECT ON YOUR CIRCLE OF CONTROL:
Take a moment to pause and assess the factors causing hesitation or fear in your current situation. Now, could you categorize them into two groups: things you can control and things you can't? Direct your focus on those things within your control. Then give yourself permission to let go of those things you have no control over. This simple shift empowers you to take charge of your circumstances.
2. TAKE AN ADVISOR ROLE:
Picture yourself in the role of advisor to a close friend or colleague facing a situation similar to yours. What advice would you give them? Often, when navigating our own challenges, we become entangled in perceived limitations. By assuming the advisor role, you gain a fresh perspective, untethered by self-imposed constraints. With the advisor role, we open ourselves up to new outlooks and possibilities.
3. CREATE A "COURAGE JOURNAL":
Set aside time and a small notebook or create a digital space for you to document instances where you successfully exhibited courage, regardless of how small the situation may seem. Regularly reflect on these moments, reinforcing the idea that courage is a skill honed over time. The key takeaway here is recognizing your ability to overcome change. You've faced challenges, learned, and grown- acknowledge and celebrate that resilience.
4. EMBRACE DISCOMFORT AS GROWTH:
Recognize discomfort as an integral part of change, a signpost pointing towards growth. Rather than avoiding it, embrace the unease as a sign of progress. Each uncomfortable moment presents an opportunity for personal advancement. By reframing discomfort in this way, you shift your mindset, viewing it not as an obstacle but as a necessary step toward change.
Remember, your body is inherently designed to endure change. It is not meant to stay where it is. Through these practical exercises, you're not merely exploring the concept of courage; you're actively nurturing it within yourself. You are courageous and designed for change.