One of my clients is a highly successful woman who grew up with a severe learning disability. From the time she started attending school, each time she read either out loud in front of others or in the quiet of her room, she would get dizzy and start feeling nervous, anxious and confused. So she did what she thought she had to do: She told no one.
On her own and without outside help, she took it upon herself to overcome her learning disability by working harder than other kids did. That meant having fewer friends, less time to vacation and have fun. To her schoolmates, she was just another shy and ‘nerdy’ little girl who stayed after school.
But this same little girl went on to graduate with top marks, and several years later earned two Ph.D.’s, one in education and the other in neuroscience. Her biggest dream was to create a school for children like her, where they could receive the support she never got. So, with just $50 in her bank account, and a heartfelt desire to succeed, she opened the school.
Fast forward seven years, her school has become so successful, they sadly have to turn kids away as there was not enough space for them.
When I started coaching her, I invited her to dream bigger than she ever had before. She told me that her biggest, boldest, scariest dream was opening seven more schools. She figured that if she could build and operate one school, seven schools should be no problem. The problem was, she felt stuck and was unable to truly move forward. Until she discovered what I call the paradox of success.
It goes something like this…
Everything that made you a success today, is exactly what is keeping you from experiencing your next level of success.
You see, she had become very successful at running one school. But if she wanted to open up and successfully run seven schools, she would have to learn a whole new set of skills, develop new habits, and become a different kind of leader.
The reason I’m sharing this story with you today is because I’d like to invite you to consider the possibility that, if you’ve been feeling stuck lately, and you’ve been wondering why you’re not experiencing the success you want, it might just be because what took you to your current level of success is EXACTLY what’s keeping you stuck.
I know, it sounds crazy, but that’s how it works. Your previous success is the problem, and the solution as well. To achieve your next level of success you’re gonna have to let go of the familiar, and start doing things differently. There’s no other way. This is why powerful leaders are constantly leaning into their edge, venturing into the unknown, and trying new things.
The key to getting unstuck is ultimately letting go of the current level of comfort your success brought you and finding the courage to change the things you can, facing your biggest fears as you take the actions that will ultimately lead to your next level of success. And, courage, as Brené Brown reminds us, is a heart word (the root of the word courage means ‘heart’ in French.) That’s the secret to success that most leaders will not tell you about.
So here are two powerful question for you:
1) What have you gotten too comfortable with, that it might be time to release it or let it go? (What people, places, habits, behaviors, ideas, beliefs, etc.)
2) What are the new habits, attitudes of behaviors that you’re gonna have to courageously embrace in order to achieve your next level of success?
Basically, how will you need to start doing things differently in order to start getting different results?
The answer to these questions will help you get unstuck and start moving in the direction of greater success!
And, as for my client and her dream of opening seven new schools, you’d be happy to know that she has successfully opened two more schools, and she just received the funding to open up three more schools!
Feel free to share your comments below.
Photo by Julia Caesar