In 2003-2004, I spent a year in Israel on a fellowship where 12 of us were selected to study Jewish texts, learn Hebrew and volunteer. It was an incredible year but I never really felt comfortable with the other fellows. Most of the group were ivy league educated, ambitious and humor-challenged. A lot of my discomfort stemmed from my feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. I respected these folks, but I didn’t enjoy them and I didn’t feel like I fit in.
On Monday night after work, I went to a text study session on power and powerlessness with alumni from this fellowship. No one was from my year, so it was 16 fellows in attendance that I had never met. Because many of us didn’t know each other, the facilitator decided to do an icebreaker. As he started to lay out the ice breaker, all my grungy feelings of insecurity and inadequacy started to bubble up. The icebreaker was to say your name, the year of your fellowship and…………. something that gives you joy.
Wait, what? Something that gives you joy??? This is the snooty, pretentious fellowship. They are supposed to be interested in the latest book you wrote, the class you teach, the company you started, the people you saved. Joy is in my wheelhouse, but obviously, I have to tailor it to this cerebral crew. And so I start to rack my brain for something that has given me joy recently and I am drawing blanks. I got nothing. My turn is quickly approaching and I am considering making something up. And then it dawns on my. Uh, you are doing.a 60 day growth challenge. Why don’t you just take a deep breath and experience the challenge of sharing the growth challenge with them. It gives you joy and if they want to judge you, let them judge you.
Here goes nothing – my name is JBG, 2003-2004, I am doing a 60 day growth challenge where I choose to do one thing each day that contributes to my own growth, health and happiness and I keep a log of the things that I do each day. I also share with someone that I don’t know that I am doing this challenge, the purpose being to hold me accountable, keep me enthusiastic and to connect with a new person each day. I also ask the person what is one thing they could do today to make their lives a bit better and I invite them to take on the growth challenge.
And………………they loved it!! They started peppering me with questions. The woman whose turn it was to go next, was like, “how am I supposed to follow that?” A woman came up to me after and needed to know more. I told her about Advanced Ed. The head of the fellowship approached me and said he wanted to continue this conversation.
What’s starting to change for me is that I am getting closer to living the work and it’s starting to feel much more authentic. It’s starting to feel less like something I do, and more like who I am. At least that’s the path that I want to be on.
So the growth challenge is going really well. Today is day 9 and I am 9 for 9 with sharing with strangers! Not a single person has rejected me from the onset yet. That is really shocking to me. I thought I would get rejected three times before someone would say yes to me sharing an idea with them.
Here are some of my daily accomplishments:
-called my parents and told them I love them
-set up appointments with an ENT, Dentist and Dermatologist
-emailed and met with the head of banking at work- started a mentor/mentee relationship with her
-am in the process of pursuing a therapist – have a first meeting this Tuesday.
-did yoga 2x in the mornings
-met up with out-of-town friends.
I haven’t done anything towards my financial goal yet. But by Friday, I will call the consulting group at my firm and get the process started.
Some days I wake up more excited than others. Some days I wake up fearful and sad. But the fear feels more like potholes on the road of growth, I notice that they’re there but I mostly stay on the road. (that analogy is paraphrased from the one and only Emileah Aguilar.)