The end of the year is always a time for me to reflect back and to look ahead. On a personal and professional level, this year is all about transformation and putting myself out of my comfort zone. Again and again, I challenged myself to go into the unknown, go with the flow and adapt to unforeseen events. Looking back, I am surprised and proud of what I have accomplished and learned.
The picture above is a great symbol for that journey: I am at Camp Omega in the mountain near Aspen and getting my white belt as a symbol of getting certified as a guide for the Flow Genome Project. This celebrates a yearlong participation in their leadership program to become a better “well-grown human”.
This program took me from a backpacking trip in the Canyon of Utah (while I had not backpacked in 20 years) to learning life skills (I received my Wilderness First Responder certification and I volunteered as a camp counsellor for a week) as well as tools and techniques that can be used to navigate personal and team challenges such as Polarity Management and the reality of the infinity loop, the concept of the Positive No (inspired from Ury’s book) and many more. I also experienced and led online classes (I am currently leading a course called "Leading Through Fire").
In addition, a component of the program was to adopt opposite practices. I chose two situations which terrify me the most: climbing (I am afraid of heights) and singing (always thought I could not sing).
From the first one, I learned I could overcome my fear and was able to go to a climbing gym. The first time up the wall was the most frightening. After that, the height part was easy, it was all about techniques.
From the second one, I learn to trust my voice more and to overcome my fears and shame. Singing has always been intimidating as I thought I was off-pitch and couldn’t carry a tune. That shame of singing off-tune was also deepened by a previous partner who ridiculed me for my singing and did not allow me to sing in his presence. So, I moved head-on into that challenge and learned my assumptions and beliefs were wrong. I do have a great pitch; I simply did not know how to make sounds. What I needed was to learn techniques like breath control, relaxing my molars and my tongue, and moving my palate to the right way. This is actually a great parallel with my work when I encourage people who believe they are “not creative” to change their assumptions and use tools and reframing to access their creative mind.
This year, I finished writing my first book Fire Up Innovation: Sparking and Sustaining Innovation Teams which I published in November. I never wrote a book before and had to learn when to keep editing and when to accept that it was “good enough”. And while I thought I was done in March 2023, after attending TED in April and hearing so much about AI, I realized that I could not have a book about innovation and not address (at least partially) the biggest innovation of all: AI! Speaker after speaker expressed that AI was the biggest change ever, so I researched everything I could and updated my manuscript, page by page, to integrate the concepts about AI and the ways it may impact our innovation moving forward.
Once my book was done, I quickly realized that writing is only a small part of publishing a book and I had to be comfortable asking for support. First, I reached out for endorsements, a very intimidating process! I was amazed by the response from other authors and successful people, I received 15 endorsements from the 17 people I asked! Thank you …for your early yeses!
Then one of my endorsers mentioned publishing a book is just a start and now I am fully immersed in understanding how to market the book so it will be successful. For that I hired an assistant, boost my linkedin profile by writing original content and post on a daily basis, created a new website for my business and my book and rebranded by business to create a synergy between the two. My business is now renamed Fire Up Innovation Consulting. To finish the launch, I scared myself once more and throw a Book Launch party! I am not a big party person, and the idea of party planning was challenging but I did it and it was a success!
Did I do too much? Yes, and my body told me so. In the middle of launching my book, while on a college tour with my son, I experienced a small panic attack (which I never had before). I realized that I had been working 15-hour days since August at that pace was not sustainable.
Thankfully, life is slowing down, I am going back to my mind body routine: meditation, exercising most day, not rushing to my phone first thing in the morning, a routine that helps me be more centered and grounded, what FGP called the “power hour”.
Reflecting back on this year, I learned to
Courage: from stretching myself physically and mentally, willing to take risks and jump into the unknown.
Letting go of the stories that did not serve me. I create limiting stories – “I am not in good enough shape to backpack with a 40 pounds bag with a bunch of 30 years”, “I’m afraid of height or I cannot sing, or I am not expert enough to write a book”. Only by taking action, was I able to discover which stories may be true and which ones I could overcome which move me to unexpected places.
To ask for help and realize that it takes many to succeed (and it is more enjoyable too)
Embracing failure: on day three in the canyons of Utah, I realized that while I wanted to be the perfect teammate and help the people in my tent, I was not able to do that before I was able to take care of myself first and learn the basic skills (like being faster at packing your sleeping bag and your back pack).
Enjoy the ride and have fun embracing change.
Learning is a never-ending process. The white graduation belt is a reminder to be always a learner and have a Beginner’s Mindset!
As of 2024 I don’t know what will happen with my book and business and with my personal life (I will be an empty nester next fall). I am both scared and excited and ready to jump into the unknown.
What new challenges have you taken this year? Which ones are you considering for next year that would move you out of your comfort zone?
Please share your stories.
If you are interested in stepping out of your comfort zone and create new adventures in 2024, I have two offers for you!
Sign up now for our January 17 workshop (12 to 1 PM PST) to create your own 2024 stretch plan.
Go deeper, participate in a coached Five-week Challenge. I share the format at the end of my book and I will coach this challenge as a group so we can support and learn from each other. Buy the book and read over the holidays and use the QR code to access the Reader’s Club and register for our newsletter on the website. You will receive an invitation to the workshop early January: it is free for my readers!