Yesterday morning began not much unlike any other. My diary was speckled with a few appointments; the most important being with my accountant. For well over a fortnight I’d been gathering information for the meeting. I felt organised, and ready.
As I stood bare after my shower, wondering what I should wear, my thoughts drifted to a Facebook status I’d posted a long time ago on the subject of preparing for the day ahead. It went something along the lines of;
When you dress for your day, put on an invisible armour so that no harm can come to you.
Why this phrase entered my mind as I selected an outfit for a meeting that I was in no way fearful of; or fussed about; I don’t know.
Despite the irrelevance, I explored the notion of whether I needed imaginary armour to protect me from the day.
I asked myself:
Do I need my armour today?
Do I want my armour today, to feel more ‘safe’?
Why do I feel so differently about donning my imaginary armour today, when I used to reach for it most days, especially at that time when I wrote the Facebook status?
Because though the armour protected me well, hiding behind it (as I braced for impact) got all too stiff and heavy, and I stopped wearing it.
And so, armourless, I went to meet with my accountant.
Afterwards I ran a few errands and returned to the office to catch up on emails from over the weekend.
There was a blog update from Seth Godin awaiting me. Seth is an internationally renowned marketing guru, respected speaker and best selling author whose blog is one of the most read throughout the world. I look forward to receiving his daily insights and I’m really excited to be seeing him in Melbourne this September, on my birthday. To my surprise, Seth’s blog post was exploring the very sentiment I’d been contemplating that morning.
Seth said; “we brace for impact way more often than impact actually occurs. The boss calls us into her office and we brace for impact. The speech is supposed to happen next Friday and we spend a week bracing for impact. All the clenching and imagining and playacting and anxiety—our culture has fooled us into thinking that this is a good thing, that it’s a form of preparation. It’s not. It’s merely experiencing failure in advance, failure that rarely happens. When you walk around braced for impact, you’re dramatically decreasing your chances. Your chances to avoid the outcome you fear, your chances to make a difference, and your chances to breathe and connect.”
I read with intrigue as I resonated with Seth’s analogy and realised that that was exactly what I’d been doing by donning my imaginary armour. I was bracing for impact, anticipating battles that were likely not even there. In the anxiety of visualising what lay ahead for the day, I’d reach for the armour. Now in hindsight I can see, that I was metaphorically dressing for failure, not success.
I wore armour during a time when my resilience needed a helping hand. It was an extra and hardened layer. It served me well back then, but it won’t serve me for the next 12 months as I plan a new path.
What I’ve come to realise is that this imaginary armour that lies closeted in my mind, ready to accompany me should I reach for it, is not a selective one. It doesn’t shield me from bad yet allow in the good. It is not made of such a special material to let my inner creativity flow outward while protecting me from the criticism directed inward. It traps the elements that lie either side of it, putting a barrier to whatever needs to flow. This is not how I choose to live right now.
The armour is a wall between me and the world. Behind it I can hide a little; while I fake it til I make it. (Haven’t we all at one time or another?)
There are times when you’ve got to do whatever’s needed to ‘get you through the night’. An armour or a wall built strong and high to hide behind is great for that. Beware though, not to keep your guard raised for longer than you need. When your resilience has been restored a little, shed that heavy armour, let down your barricade, and allow the world to see you for all that you are.
Toy with the idea of not anticipating battles, of not bracing for impact. Leave your imaginary armour in your mind’s closet. You’ll be dressed for success, not failure.