Take the leap

Raise your hand if you’ve ever asked yourself, “Am I really ready for this? Like, for real ready?” That question translates into:

Am I capable?

Am I confident?

Do I have enough faith?

Am I willing to fail?

 “Am I willing to fail?” is the biggest question of them all. Being a self-diagnosed perfectionist hindered me from stepping into anything that I could not envision myself starting and completing with 110% mastery. I was never ready because I wouldn’t let myself take a chance. In my 10-hour drive moving from Memphis to Houston, I realized that I was ready because of the simple fact that I had God on my side.

Whatever challenges I faced, obstacles I needed to surmount, problems I had to solve, I either was ready before they happened or would be ready whenever it needed to be handled. That drive happened September 28, 2013, and in the nine months since that drive happened, I have declared myself more ready than ever.

My most recent “Are you for real ready?” moment came in May at the end of my first full semester as a special education teacher. Not only did I fall in love with teaching special education – the students, the work, the reward, all of it! – but I was also asked to lead the special education team on my campus for the next school year.

That’s where the big “Am I ready – I mean, for real ready?” popped up. Here I am with degrees in public relations and public policy, no credentials in the area of education or leadership, the newest member on my campus’ special education team – and they asked me to lead the team for the following year.

During that meeting, I had to repeat my go-to declaration: God hasn’t brought you this far to leave you! I accepted the request to lead the team, and I haven’t looked back! Do I think about all the things that I feel like I don’t know!? Heck. Yes! (So much information, so little time! *breathes deeply*).

As all the questions run through my mind and send my 1000-mile-a-minute brain into a tizzy, I calm myself by remembering that God has not carried me for 25 years for nothing. My experiences, growing pains, and seasons of bounty have not been in vain. He has given me the passion to teach for a reason. And even though I prefer the background sometimes, He created me as a natural-born leader with innate talent, a strong heart and mind, and learned, adaptable skills for a reason.

Everything you ever needed to be ready for that next step is already in you. Being ready isn’t about being fearless; it’s about harnessing the fear to propel you forward, to innovate, to lead.

To be ready even when you think you aren’t …

(1) Have a mantra. When I get ready to step into something that makes me feel a little shaky, I remind myself that God hasn’t brought me this far to leave me. I ground myself in those principles that are bigger than me, and I accept the challenge.

(2) Assess the qualities that you have. What value do you bring? What perspective could you offer? Boost your self-confidence by remembering the goals you have accomplished and the feats you have tackled! Focus on the positive; uplifting self-talk is terribly important. You are thoroughly equipped to do whatever you’ve been asked to do. Step into the light. Shine.

(3) Seek support. Once you’ve stepped into whatever your I’m-not-ready situation is, reach out for support. Seek people who can boost you emotionally, who can help fill your information and skill gaps, and who are models for how to accomplish whatever you may think you’re not ready to accomplish. Drop the perfectionist act, and open yourself to the myriad of possibilities associated with the task, goal, or responsibility at hand.

Accepting challenges, conquering obstacles, being confident in the talent and skill that God has given you takes courage. Nelson Mandela let us know that “courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear” by doing what makes him anxious.

Be confident. Be courageous. You are ready even when you are not. 

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