Looking backward, I know I want to escape. I see a network of business known to me, but there is a lot here I don’t like. I haven’t been recognized. My talents go unused. The business is too busy to notice me. I’m never going to reach my victory here. I have settled for a long inner drama of getting resigned to the conditions that are growing more intolerant for me. I wonder if there is an escape in my future!
And ahead, I see . . . A faint light. Surrounded by uncertainty, limited vision, and financial anxiety, I dare to look forward. I have a dream that tells me “I am talented, I am unique, and I can apply what I know. I am ready to launch my own business.” There is a compelling attraction in going forward – but everything I know is right here in my job, with my self-esteem at a low point.
Have you ever been in this teeter totter? The present is claustrophobic and confining, and the future new career is uncertain and dark. You make a choice, or else you will have fewer choices in the future. You are growing older, and you know that you do not have unlimited chances to redefine the way you work.
The teeter totter moment is unsettling. You see a choice between Scylla and Charybdis, the narrow waters sailed by Odysseus as he sought to return home from the Peloponnesian Wars. Both choices have their dangers, and you seek bigger advice, help in moving past this point. You sway from one position to the other.
My Zen teacher used to tell me, “Ok to zig, ok to zag. Just don’t wobble.” You recognize that you are wobbling! The danger is that in wobbling, you lose your clarity, your uniqueness. You have a unique gift to offer the world; when you wobble, you don’t share your gift well!
On the teeter totter – this is the time to practice mindfulness. Ask yourself, “where am I right now?” Yes, you are in a place of confusion, so let things settle. You are going to make a choice, but when you do, choose to make the choice intentionally.
You cannot choose both routes forward, so start with simply knowing, “I am right here. I won’t rush into a disaster without being conscious of my actions.” Having the mindful attitude on the teeter-totter begins with these properties:
Settle. Have you been letting your fears dominate your present? Remove them. You have a great spirit within you; you are intelligent and experienced. Set that all aside, and let your nervous system recover. Don’t hang on important questions (variations of “what am I going to do?”) and simply hear the questions. Develop an inner smile and realize that you are bigger than the teeter-totter moment.
Pay attention. Notice what signals you have been receiving. When you are in confusion and tumult, you may have missed something important. What can you learn from your emotional intelligence and intuition? You may want to ask for guidance from your Great Spirit. Listen.
Find clarity. Understand yourself and your situation. You don’t have to judge yourself or anyone else, simply observe. Review your priorities and the reaction of your nervous system when you are on one side of the teeter-totter and the other. Perhaps you want to go through a door, but you would like to know more about this journey ahead. Find someone to talk to. Gain the clarity that you need to keep you from endlessly playing on the teeter-totter.
Decide to choose. Be responsible, and choose to choose. Give yourself a time limit to act and get off of the teeter totter. You will be more assured once you stop wobbling. Just begin with the decision and feel comfortable with your progress. Everything you need is ahead of you.
Here is the essential dilemma of the teeter totter: I have security here, but I know this security can change anytime. I have a victory ahead of me, but I don’t know how to get there, and I might fail. Relax, you are human like the rest of us! You will reduce your risk and calm your nervous system when you stop wobbling. You have greatness inside of you.
Steve Broe is an executive coach and author. He lives in Scottsdale Arizona. He answers the question, “How does leadership help people become successful?” in his new book, Leading the Way Up Mt. Olympus, now available on Amazon.