Each year, I create a new mantra for myself. One year it was “think big.” I spent the entire year 10x’ing my ideas, goals and dreams. Another year I claimed “follow the positive energy.” I made it my mission to pursue those people and activities that energized and inspired me. This year, I’ve declared 2014 as “The Year of Adventure!”
So when I heard about an all-ladies cattle drive taking place in the heart of Montana led by Ambassador Barbara Barrett, I did what any city girl would do – I ignored it. But the more I tried to ignore it, the more Barbara and the cattle drive crept into my psyche. Until finally, I signed up.
Why did I try to ignore it? Because it was so far outside of my cushy-snuggly comfort zone that the idea terrified me. Me, the girl who has to call my brother because I’m too afraid to chase a mouse out of my house… had signed up to go on a cattle drive, fly fishing adventure of a lifetime in Montana. Little did I know that this 6-day excursion would have such a big impact on my life.
Here are four (4) things it taught me –
Changing my mindset.
I went from thinking, “No way!” to “How could I make that happen?” by breaking it down into a few simple steps –
* Safety – I called the organizers with a list of questions to make sure it was safe for a “beginner” to sign up.
* Finances – I got my finances in order so that I had a budget for it.
* Preparation – I mitigated some of the fear by taking four (4) horseback riding lessons and a fly fishing lesson before the big event so that I wouldn’t be such a “beginner”
After I put all of these small actions into place, then the rational side of my brain gave me the green flag to go for it.
Role models are important.
On the first day of the cattle drive, we were pushing about 30 angus cattle along a narrow dirt road tucked between a mountain and the Bitterroots river. One of the calves decided to go Maverick and bolted up the mountain to make a U-turn and run back to his buddies in another pasture. A female wrangler named Holly yelled “YEE HAWWW!” as she smacked and kicked her horse straight up that mountain to chase down Mr. Angus. It was impressive. It was jaw dropping. It was crazy inspiring to see someone role model boldness and bravery. If you want to learn something new – go watch a role model in action. We need people in our life to role model “how” and “that” we can do it.
Trust in yourself that you’ll figure it out.
For most of the initiatives that I lead in my career, my plan is about 50% set in stone, and the other 50% I figure out along the way. But in my Montana adventure, I had about 90% that I needed to figure out. In the end I figured out what I needed to. I asked questions, got help when I needed it, stayed open to coaching, and just kept trying. What I learned is that it’s okay to be a novice at something and it’s okay to be scared. What’s not okay is to let fear stop you from doing anything.
Repeat after me: TRY –> LEARN –> REPEAT.
The feeling of being “empowered.”
Yes, it started out as sheer terror, but after a couple of days of just doing it (i.e. not falling over backwards on my horse Tonto because “we” decided to jump over a ravine,) the fear transformed into feelings of confidence, courage and empowerment.
I can’t remember the last time I felt empowered in my career, and I’m not sure I ever felt empowered in my home life. But I sure felt empowered by day #3 of the cattle drive.
I’m going to take this confidence back with me into my real life. I figure if I can conquer staring down a steer then I can certainly conquer managing my toughest career challenge. This experience has given me a new perspective – if I can manage through something that is so far outside my comfort zone, then anything that falls inside my day-to-day world seems easy peasy
I guess the thing that amazes me the most was how invigorating and personally rewarding it was to go outside my comfort zone. I use to plan my vacations to be low key, low maintenance and low stress, because I figured I had all the stress I could handle in my daily life. Now, I’m going to seek out vacations that are new, different and highly adventurous. I’m thinking that “vacation with gusto” may be my next mantra for 2015!
Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist. She teaches others how to think differently and more proactively in their career. Her book, “The Bounce Back” is the 2013 winner of “Best Career Book” by Indie Book Awards for independent book authors. Her first book is on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books, “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a powerful personal brand.” As the Founder/President of Career Coaching 360 Sherri passionately teaches professionals and executives how to reinvent themselves into a more enriching and fulfilling career.