A torn little scrap of paper. Hot pink if you must know. It was once a post it note. The adhesive is long gone. I found it in the rubble that constitutes the contents of my day bag. In spite of its humble origins and slightly dog-eared presentment it was a life saver. A simple gift.
The gift was the result of a conversation I’d had at a holiday party I attended this week for the board members of a company whose board I serve on. Most of my colleagues brought spouses. Somehow I missed that memo. Regardless, I met many new people. One spouse, an author and former high school teacher, gave me a wonderful gift.
I shared with him a few details about one of my current experiments, my book. Experiments for those new to Novofemina are techniques that I use to validate my transition’s hypothesis. A hypothesis is simply my current thinking on direction, my trial passion. I’ve learned that transition is a process that requires us to re-examine identity, capacity and values. It’s iterative. Marked by learning. Requiring humility.
“Who are you writing for?” asked the spouse and author. I’d just told him how difficult it was for me to write.
At first I misunderstood his question. I thought he was asking about the book’s target market, its future readers. Instead he was asking to whom I was telling my story as I sat at the computer. How simple. To imagine that you are writing – or talking – to someone. He tapes a picture of that person right to his computer’s screen.
The next day I grabbed my hot pink scrap of paper and scrawled three names on it just as I sat down at my computer. It was incredibly powerful. I wrote and wrote and wrote. What’s even more inspiring is that what I wrote seemed more readable. Better.
This secret reminded me of one of my favorite movie scenes of all time – from the Dead Poet’s Society. In it the beloved Robin Williams plays a high school English teacher at a private boys high school. At one point Williams asks his students to come to the front of the room to stand on his desk. Why? To remind the students that they “must constantly look at things in a different way….You must strive to find your own voice.” (YouTube Excerpt)
The simple advice of a stranger helped me reframe this week. It allowed me to step beyond a boundary that I had invisibly erected for myself. Many have asked me about the role of serendipity in transition. I wonder?
May your gift this season be the confidence to look at something in a new way and the willingness to dignify that which it illuminates.
If you have one more minute take a moment to read prior holiday posts:
December 2011 Leading with Gratitude
December 2012 Yuletide Greetings
December 2013 A gift for you this holiday
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