Back in November I talked about those women who do a million and one things—have a career, have a nice house, do charity work, volunteer at school—and how I'm going to be more like them. So far it's going pretty well—I helped with a fundraiser at school, I'm chair of a somewhat underachieving Eco-committee (part of the problem being that whenever we think of something eco to do it turns out the school is already doing it), and so far my children haven't starved to death or sickened due to the filthy state of the house. One thing did falter: I missed a few notes in the Christmas concert because I wasn't at the dress rehearsal. Lesson learned.
But I digress. The reason I bring this up is that I realized that this ambition, to Do Lots of Things, is a subset of a bigger ambition which I have just put into words: Be More Awesome.
As I have discussed before, I see myself as a veritable well of unfulfilled potential. Sure, I have a rather lame math degree and two lovely children, but other people my age are running for city councillor and writing books and,well, being awesome. I want at least a little piece of that.
Let me digress again for a moment. The school is getting a second kindergarten playground, and the eco-committee wants it to be a natural playground, one of those jobbies with logs and rocks to play on instead of metal and plastic playstructures. Great idea, very eco. We (mostly I) came up with this idea ages ago, but I wasn't sure where to start, who to talk to, how to broach the subject. So I didn't do anything.
And then last week I busted up my back (You know why? Because in my last post I was all "I haven't hurt my back for over a year!" Stupid.) and I was stuck on the couch all week. Rather than be completely useless I did some research on natural playgrounds and then I emailed the principal. I was all, "The eco-committee is exploring the idea of a natural playground for the new kindergarten playground", and I went on to briefly describe a natural playground, and explain why we (I) thought it would be a good idea. I cc'd the vice-principal, our trustee, and the rest of the committee, and hit send.
Three minutes later the trustee replied saying he would be happy to attend a meeting about this proposal. Proposal! It was just an idea, a whim! But by writing it down and sending it to some people, it became a proposal. Thirty minutes later the principal responded with a five-paragraph email, cc'd to about a billion more people, saying that they had considered a natural playground, we should meet soon and what was my thinking? We're meeting on Tuesday.
That's it. That's all it took: an idea, some Googling and a judiciously cc'd email, and now we have a proposal and a meeting. Obviously I'm going to have to prepare for the meeting, and there will be other jobs coming down the pipeline, but all it took to get the ball rolling was one email message.
What I have learned from this is that the path to awesomeness is paved with tiny baby steps. This a truth neither profound nor abstruse, but it has been a long time coming to me. I don't like to act on things unless I know how they're going to turn out. And not just the first step, I like to know what's going to happen four or five steps down the line. I like to think things through and anticipate problems, and prepare for them. This is a wonderful trait if you're going camping, or taking two small people downtown, or going on vacation, but it has its limits. When I'm contemplating something complicated or new, or that involves other people, I can can always think of nine or ten ways stuff could go horribly wrong. Thus, paralysis. Inaction. Failure to be awesome.
A while ago I read a book called Feel the Fear... And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers and as you can see from my discussion of it, a) this blog post is well overdue and b) I am a broken record. The good news is that I've taken the lessons I learned from the book on board—the ideas that were new to me back in 2008 are a comfortable part of my daily coping repertoire now. So, odd as it seems, these realizations, that I am scared to act if I don't know I will succeed, and that it only takes a small step to start getting things done, actually represent progress in my quest to be more awesome.