Showing Up Scared – but Strong

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Two weeks ago, I traveled for the first time in nine months. I had to be persuaded by my colleagues and a little nudge of intuition that I needed to go.

Some thoughts:

1. Traveling is a learning curve. With practice you get good at it. Though I’ve traveled frequently for years, I was a little out of practice. I forgot a number of important items. I’ve committed to creating an travel checklist before I travel again.

2. Traveling again allowed me to test some things I’ve been advocating, like experimentation (Expert in Experimentation). No matter where we are on the Learning Curve, but especially when we are at the launch point, we’re running a test. I tried out a new mental script about forgetting important items. “This is an experiment. I’m at the launch point. I’m not going to say unkind things about myself to myself (or anyone else). This is an opportunity to practice resilience.” For example, on my Apple watch I had a 90-day move streak, 90 days of burning 250 calories per day. I was closing in on 100 days of tracking this goal. But I forgot my charger. Instead of heading for an Apple store, I practiced resilience in disappointment. P.S. Tuesday, November 10th, on LinkedIn Live, Lori O’Grady suggested that I celebrate those 90 days. I had set the top of the S Curve at 100 days. But I’m making the rules. So…90 it is.

3. Starting something new takes energy. Over the past nine months I have developed a routine. There has been a lot that I could chunk. Which freed mental and emotional capacity to do a lot that is new. But traveling, like any new S Curve, disrupted my routine. My brain was having to solve problems I’m not accustomed to working on. Mental capacity was directed to survival. A lot of us have experienced this in 2020. A lot of our resources have been siphoned in adapting to unfamiliar circumstances and challenges. If you’re more tired, need more down time, make more mistakes this year, this could be why. When we figure out our lives post-Covid, that’s going to take energy too.

4. Being with people gives us energy. I have introvert tendencies. Many of us do. But traveling again connected me with Amy Humble, the president of WLJ Advisors. I see her almost every day on Zoom, but it was a huge boost to my psyche to be in her company. It’s a reminder—and something to look forward to—that there is a difference being with people.

Traveling again made me nervous, but I’m glad that I showed up for the experience.

Researcher Brené Brown teaches us that vulnerability is showing up when we don’t know the outcome. We’re doing an encore episode of our interview with Brené on the podcast. As vulnerable as we all feel these days, it seemed like a great time for a re-listen.

A favorite part of this is a story Brené told about her mother. Brené came from a family rife with alcoholism and had a difficult early life. When she was 21, her parents had just divorced, and her mother’s brother was shot and killed in a random act of violence. In the days and months following these tragedies, her mother was crying a lot. Brené said to her, “I’m scared. I’m not used to seeing you weak like this. And her mother said to her, “I’m vulnerable, for sure. And sad. And scared. But I’m not weak. If I were [emotionally] weak, I’d be dead now.”

We may be sad. We may be scared. But not knowing the outcome and showing up anyway isn’t weakness. It’s strength.

My best,I love that you are here. I love that we are learning together. Keep showing up.


P.S. We have four copies of Brené’s book, Daring Greatly, to give away as a way to say thank you to her for what she teaches––and to you for being here! If you want to be eligible, share what you liked about this episode on Instagram! Tag me @johnsonwhitney and @brenebrown.

P.P.S. Thank you to everyone that expressed curiosity regarding my travels. We heard you! Check out my Instagram this weekend, I will be sharing some highlights from my trip.

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