How many times in your life have you been a part of something new? When were you on the ground floor of a new endeavor, experience, initiative or opportunity? When were you either invited to join a new effort or assertive in creating something that hadn’t been done before?
I think of my marriage as a powerful “something new” that I agreed to help co-create. This relationship had never before existed and a decision, one of both head and heart, was made to see if together we could build something that would last. To this day, it is my proudest accomplishment.
Fatherhood and parenthood was a gigantic “something new.” Talk about a shot in the dark! Again, a commitment of both head and heart, we agreed that we wanted to build a family and then we rolled the dice. All the planning in the world doesn’t allow you to mitigate the variables in that particular new event.
I traveled to Whidbey Island near Seattle this week to take part in another “something new.” I accepted an invitation to attend the launch event for the Institute for Conversational Leadership. This new organization is inspired by and formed around the work of poet/philosopher David Whyte who has been applying his work to organizational settings for the past twenty years. The purpose of the Institute is to provide a greater level of sustainability for the courageous conversations David inspires during his talks. Organizations asked for a way to carry the work forward and the Institute is the response. I do not know what my role will be in this new endeavor but I do know that I was there at the beginning and, like all beginnings of significance, it was exciting, energizing, messy and rife with unanswered questions.
I found myself deeply enjoying the experience especially because it is not yet known what it will be. The mystery of the new and the exhilaration of standing at the threshold is a powerful force in the early going.
The common thread of these examples, and of anything that is deeply meaningful, is that they marry fear with excitement, uncertainty with energy. And, as such, they require courage – acting in the presence, not the absence of fear.
It’s easy to fall in love with the idea of marriage, fatherhood, writing a blog or building a change organization. It’s another thing altogether to recognize your fear of beginning and still decide to put a shovel in the ground and get to work.
© 2010 David Berry