Early last year, I received a call from Sergey Shchepotkin asking if I would be his assistant coach for the University of Northern British Columbia’s women’s basketball team.
I met Sergey when he coached my daughter’s basketball club over a couple of summers and I helped him out at a couple of tournaments.
I was surprised at the offer and honestly didn’t know if I was up to the task. I tried to say no a number of times. I talked with family, friends and the previous assistant coach, looking for reasons that would disqualify me from taking the role.
Finally, in an act of surrender, I accepted the position, not knowing how I could benefit the team or what lay in store.
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Often as leaders, we’re in the awkward position of facing an opportunity or challenge and trying to decide whether to accept the task. Leaders can often be frozen by indecision, overwhelmed by life’s circumstances or too tired to consider anything different than the mundane situation we live in. The result is that we’re hesitant to take on change that will take us out of our comfort zone.
Sometimes as leaders, we’re so focused on being in control that we attack situations to ensure we get the outcome we believe we need.
I remember buying a commercial building and the environmental assessment suggested we wouldn’t get a loan. I called the assessor and challenged his assessment. While my confrontation didn’t change the report, I thought I needed to do something to ensure the deal went through. In hindsight, the assessment had little bearing – the bank was willing to loan us the money we needed, and my aggressiveness didn’t earn me any friends and displayed poor judgment.
The difference between surrendering to what life is offering and trying to remain in total control can be subtle. There are times when we’re backed into situations where we need to go on the attack to protect our reputation, business, family or even life.
However, having been in such situations, if we start by surrendering to the fact that perhaps we’re put in this position for a reason, the outcome is often better than we can imagine. In this situation, our attack changes from fighting the losing battle that this can’t be real to, Okay, this is the situation we’re in; what do we need to survive and thrive?
As I stepped into the gym last August, I was hesitant about what I could bring to the team. I knew Sergey had considerable technical basketball expertise and a successful history of coaching that dwarfed mine. Not only that, many of the players knew the sport much better than I did.
Yet surrendering to the experience enabled me to gently find my place and embark on a season that provided me with experiences and relationships that have enriched my life and hopefully made a difference in the lives of the players I encountered. I would never have been able to experience such joy if I resisted being out of my comfort zone.
Being open to possibilities and surrendering to the understanding that we don’t need to control all of our outcomes positions us to experience a life that’s beyond our limited imaginations.
What are you facing this week that might set you outside your comfort zone and entail surrendering your control for an uncertain future of experiences?
I challenge you to try to surrender your control and live your life on the edge. It’s amazing what you might discover.
Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award-winning business coach and a partner with Pivotleader Inc. Surrender your question to Dave and find out what happens. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. For interview requests, click here.
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