Last winter, I was feeling stuck and stagnant. I craved a new adventure – a physical challenge and a lift for my spirit.
One day, my son asked if I wanted to go snowboarding. “Hmmm,” I thought, “Maybe this was the adventure I was craving.” But I had never snowboarded before. What if I fell? What if I couldn’t do it?
But then, I asked myself a question I had never asked before. Little did I know that this question would become like a mantra to me over the next year. Little did I know that in asking myself this question each time I set out to do something that felt challenging, new, or scary, it would help me to find the courage within me to do things I had never done before.
I asked myself, “What if I was 10% braver?”
Just 10% braver.
On that day last winter, being 10% braver looked like trying snowboarding for one afternoon and spending time with my son. That seemed doable.
I decided to go. I tried it. I fell 30 times. I hated it. My son loved it. I’ve always been athletic so I knew that snowbaording wasn’t for me. But I was learning that being 10% braver was about “going for it” and trying something new with courage, curiosity, and a sense of play. I started to feel brave and excited. I liked this new idea of being 10% braver!
When we got home, my son announced how he loved it and wanted to go back. My daughter asked, “Can I try skiing?”
I thought, “What if I tried skiing? That feels like being 10% braver. I can do that!” I had skied maybe a total of three times in my life – about 25+ years ago! But I figured that if I didn’t like it, I could sit in the lodge and read a book. With both kiddos into it and a slope near by, this seemed doable. The kiddos would be off screens and we would get outside. Bonus. I could try skiing. So I nudged myself to be just a mere, attainable, 10% braver. I could do one day of trying something new, being cold, and feeling a bit scary. If I hated it, I hated it.
But my goal of 10% braver wasn’t to love it – it was to DO IT.
Onto the slopes we went. I fell in our ski school class just trying to get onto the “magic carpet” for the bunny slope. I was scared of going too fast, falling, and getting hurt. I felt like a fool and embarrassed as a newbie.
But…I loved it. I loved being outside, with my kiddos, working out vigorously, and learning a new sport. I loved being exhausted when I got home. It felt exhilarating. I loved being 10% braver!
I was being 10% braver!
My children and I loved it (my husband at the time had a hurt knee – we’re trying to get him to try next year!). All last winter, any chance we got, we headed up to the slopes. And every single time I clicked into my skis, I’d ask myself, “What if I was 10% braver today?”
Some days I was anxious and scared. My kiddos caught on quicker than I did and were going faster down more advanced slopes than I was. But being 10% braver wasn’t about going super fast or pushing myself so far beyond my skill level that I’d get hurt.
Being 10% braver could include being cautious and careful – but just not always COMFORTABLE. If I wanted to grow, that meant I wasn’t always going to be comfortable – safe, but not always comfortable.
At the end of the season last winter, we went to Mount Snow in Vermont. We loved trying out new slopes! On our ride back to Maryland, we talked about how much we had loved this winter. And we wanted to do it again. We got home and we bought season passes for Winter 2019/2020.
We started off the Winter 2019/2020 season by going to Breckenridge, CO. I was so excited to try skiing on the “good stuff” out West! But the high altitude really threw me. Yet, I was learning that being 10% braver wasn’t about “killing it on the mountain.” Being 10% braver was about going on a family adventure. Being 10% braver was about recognizing I could take it easy on that trip AND still have a fun adventure.
When we got back home and our local ski season started, I set a goal that felt like “10% braver”…and fun! I wanted to do 100 runs. A “run” meant one trip up the ski lift and one trip down the slopes (no matter how many trails I took). So every week this winter, we have gone skiing. And every week, I would ask myself, “What if I was 10% braver today?” And every week, I grew a little. Soon, it started to feel incredibly empowering.
Then, one day in February, on a ski weekend with our family and friends at a resort I hadn’t been to yet, I was just about to hit my 100th run. My buddy, Frank, who has skiied his whole life, went down a few runs with me. He said, “You could totally do a black diamond, Lisa. You have the right form. It’s just confidence now.”
I trusted him. I trusted me. I thought, “Well, what if I was 10% braver?”
And instantly I knew: it’s time for a black diamond. I told myself I’d go as slow as I needed to. I told myself that I’d make big, wide turns if I needed to. I told myself I’d stop and rest if I needed to.
Standing at the top of my first black diamond, I looked down the slope and I thought, “I can do this.” I was scared AND I knew that I could do it.
My children went first. Frank went in front of me and said he’d be near by. I stood there by myself at the top of the slope watching our crew start down. “Well, here I go!” I said to myself, and I launched off the top of the black diamond.
Soon I was swishing and turning in the powder. I was doing this! I could do this! And suddenly, everything seemed to click. My body knew what to do. There was no “Okay, Lisa, now do this…now pay attention to this….” It just clicked. I was nervous but it felt exhilarating. I trusted my body. My mind went along. I did it! And I loved it!
I skied to the bottom of the slope and I was so proud of myself! I don’t think I’ve ever felt like that before. I wasn’t proud of myself because I achieved going down a black diamond. Sure, that felt great! But I was proud of myself because of this:
All last winter and this winter, I learned to ski, I kept at it, and I did it MY WAY. I kept going for it and growing. I had gone down a black diamond (and then went down another TEN black diamonds that weekend!) because I had been “just 10% braver” each time I got onto the slopes. That first day learning how to click into my skis and get on the magic carpet, I could have never imagined I’d go down a black diamond. But I kept asking myself, “What if I was 10% braver?”
It feels like I can do anything. It turns out that being 10% braver in skiing was just what I needed to get myself out of that rut I was in. It has opened the door to being braver in more than just skiing. Tackling the unknown while building up my physical strength, combined with the invigorating winter air, has fueled me to feel bolder, fiercer, more focused, and determined in my life. It is paving the way for stronger boundaries, clarity, and confidence in myself that I had forgotten. And I’m doing it on my terms. As a woman in midlife, that feels…liberating.
What if YOU were 10% braver?
What might you say, stand for, start, or create?
What might you let go of?
What might you lean into?
Maybe there is a big dream you have and it feels impossible. Maybe you have a big challenge in front of you and you don’t know where to start.
What I have found is this: big changes all at once are daunting, so we either put them off or dive in and can’t sustain the momentum. What we need is a shift. A step. Something attainable. Not much – just 10%. No matter what your challenge or what your dream is, 10% seems do-able!
What I’ve noticed is this: most people perk up and start to say, “Well, I would……” BINGO! Creativity starts to flow. Possibility starts to emerge. Hope starts to bud.
What if you were 10% braver?
Maybe you dream of writing a novel. What does 10% braver look like? Maybe it’s deciding to carve out 15 minutes every morning to write – no matter what your Inner Critic says.
Maybe you feel stagnate in your job or you aren’t moving up as you’d like to. Could 10% braver mean raising your hand to lead the next project – no matter who gives you a strange look?
Maybe you want to be on better terms with your spouse. What if you were 10% braver in reconnecting? Maybe it’s reaching out to connect with them during the day – like a call at work…for no reason but to say hello – and be the first one to be kind.
When you have a goal, a hope, or a dream in mind, ask yourself, “What if I was 10% braver?”
You will start to sense possibility rising. You’ll feel your creativity budding. You’ll be setting yourself up for success in the process as well as possibly even reaching the ultimate goal. The success you have along the way is what encourages us to take the next step…and then the next.
Breaking things down, celebrating victorious steps, and treating “missteps” as part of the journey, this is the recipe for not only starting but for staying.
You begin to build a new relationship with fear, fumbling, and failure.
You begin to treat the ups and downs with equanimity.
You begin to be okay with feeling uncomfortable.
You bring a sense of curiosity and playfulness as well as determination into what you are going for.
And you find that just 10% adds up to being a courageous, fierce, and peaceful person.
I am well into midlife now. I’m taking soul risks to be 10% braver – now not only in skiing but in my life, work, and relationships. It feels like I am on the verge of something big. I’ll approach that “big” with these mini soul risks AND enjoy the journey on the way – up or down any mountain!
I’m here to help you be 10% braver. Each day. In any area of your life.
Let me help you be 10% braver.
Be brilliantly you.
Be better with your boundaries.
Be better with your self-care and self-regard.
Be compassionate and mindful.
Be the light – the change our world needs.
Be your authentic self in your work, love, and life.
I’m here for you.
Coming Soon: In the spirit of being 10% braver, I am writing a second book! I can’t wait to share it with you! It is going to be a poetic guide to letting your light shine. I publish my books with an Indie publisher which means I’ll need your help to get this book out into the world! I’ll be running a Kickstarter campaign (starts May 5th!).
Coaching: If spring has you wanting to be 10% braver and with a skilled professional by your side, check out the Integrative Coaching that I offer. We can work from anywhere in the world.