By Dean Whittaker

What’s holding you back from making that decision that will transform your organization into what you know it can be? This month’s lesson for me has been to come to grips with what is holding me back.

While on a six-day, 2,000 mile road trip (some call Spring Break), I had time to ponder. The Interstate Highway system is a marvel at efficiency, but I can say that it is not much for its beauty. As we passed through 8 states on our way to Louisiana to wish my wife’s 77 year old friend a surprise Happy Birthday, I had time to reflect about what was keeping me stuck. I was stuck in the rut of not moving forward in areas of my life that matter.

When I returned from our road trip through Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan, I realized the challenges I faced were not external but rather internal. There were issues to which I had put up enormous resistance to making the changes I needed to make. I realized that my life just doesn’t happen to me, but rather it was about the choices I made and how I respond to every situation.

Letting go of the past in order to morph into the new is what is necessary to transform into the butterfly that is waiting just beyond our caterpillar’s cocoon. Everything I wanted was just past the other side of my fears. So what is it that I am so afraid of that it keeps me stuck in the past? I suppose it is the shame of failure. But, then, how can one make progress in anything without a willingness to fail and learn from those failures.

Several years ago a wise friend gave me a framed picture of a smug cat. The caption under the picture read, “If at first you don’t succeed, try to hide your astonishment.” Making mistakes is essential to long term success.

What I finally realized was that my fears bred doubt, and doubt led to a loss in confidence. What I needed most to move forward was confidence. I needed confidence in myself and my team to face the challenges and deal with them head-on. To move forward and become unstuck from my comfortable rut, I needed to step into and become comfortable with the unknown.

To regain my confidence I began by reminding myself what I had done well that day. I listened to or read inspiring biographies and autobiographies. I reminded myself to be thankful. I reconnected with supportive friends. I pushed myself to accomplish short-term goals. Lastly, I began to celebrate my weekly accomplishments.

To more effectively manage my stress, I began a mediation process using an iPhone (and PC) app called Head Space which is a 10-min/day guided meditation by a Buddhist monk. I resumed my 40-minute daily walk on the treadmill, and I have just completed a 30-day wellness health detox program to change my diet.

Are you, too, stuck in a rut? Then, I challenge you to face what is keeping you stuck, to take one step past your comfort zone and see what happens. What is the worst that will happen? Failure? Perhaps, but what if you never try?