Sometimes we get into trouble because we overstep: We jump into a situation too soon. We act with too much enthusiasm or commitment.
The bigger challenge that most of us face in life, however, is not that we overstep, but that we understep – that we miss opportunities to be who we most want to be – whether out of fear, self-consciousness, or the simple premise that we are not really up to the opportunity/challenge. Sound familiar?
The biggest regrets people share with me (and frankly, which I have felt in my own life) are rarely about what they did, but much more often are about those things they wish they’d done, but didn’t do. In other words, the times we wished we had stepped up, but didn’t.
Start with the opportunities to step up that are most important to you – not those which others tell you are the most important ones.
But that can change. It turns out that stepping up is actually a learnable art form, and it often comes down to these three basic things:
- Have people in your life who are there to encourage you, to remind you that you are more capable than you may give yourself credit for, and have more permission to step up than you typically allow yourself. You need to find at least one person who sees you as you wish you saw yourself, and listen to them, at least sometimes, when they tell you to step up.
- Be the person who you need for at least one other person. Be the one who gives to someone else the encouragement and permission you most need. In fact, this may be the first step because for many of us, it is easier to give encouragement or permission than to receive it, and giving actually heightens our capacity for receiving.
- Perhaps most importantly, be yourself. Start with those opportunities to step up that are most important to you, not those which others tell you are most important. Perhaps they are right, perhaps not. Perhaps you will get to those, perhaps not.
What matters most, I think, when it comes to stepping up your life, is appreciating that it is your life, and that the steps you are taking, are yours – nobody can take them but you, and because they are yours, nobody can take them better than you can.
Brad Hirschfield is the co-founder and co-executive editor of The Wisdom Daily. A rabbi, Brad has been featured on ABC’s Nightline UpClose, PBS’s Frontline, Fox News and National Public Radio. He wrote a long-standing column, “For God’s Sake,” for the Washington Post, and has also written for The Huffington Post and Beliefnet.com. He authored the book, You Don?t Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism. Brad also serves as President of Clal, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a leadership training institute, think tank and resource center in New York City.