October 6, 2023
60 seconds can seem like nothing, unless you are in labor. Or watching the last minute of a tied football game and your team just got the ball back. Or when you are waiting for the results of a pregnancy test. Our time can feel fleeting or forever, depending on the circumstances. I remember checking my watch and counting down the seconds, then feeling the flutter in my chest at the moment those two little lines appeared. The palpable anticipation that in nine months, I was going to be a mom. The gravity of knowing my life was going to change, but not having any idea back then how much it would truly change.
In many situations, we are forced to wait. Sit still and wait. Watch the hands of the clock and be patient. Those moments can be mildly frustrating all the way to borderline infuriating. We can find ourselves writing the story before it even happens. Anticipating a diagnosis, breakup, catastrophe without any evidence to suggest it. Our minds are powerful and can be relentless. We have the unique ability to fill in the blanks without any pertinent information. In those moments, we often feel at the mercy of time. Paralyzed, unable to move until the picture has been fully fleshed out for us.
But what if we looked at time from a completely different angle. What if 60 seconds could unlock greatness? What if it could bring us closer to the life we want to have? What if 60 seconds changed how you saw yourself and brought better opportunities to you? Sometimes we believe that change is time consuming. The mountain seems too high. The effort feels too great. We talk ourselves out of the opportunity before we have even begun. Defeat at our heels as hope dissipates in front of our eyes. But what if there was another way of thinking? One that doesn’t force us to give up so much. What if it just requires us to be brave for 60 seconds? Change can happen in an instant, but only if we are ready to commit. We have to be willing to get out of our own way in order for the magic to happen.
What if you knew you deserved to be paid more. Costs are rising all around you and your work and efforts are not matching the money you are making. What if for 60 seconds you decided to be brave? What if you asked for a raise? And what if you got it?! What happens to your life because of your 60 seconds of bravery? What about in a relationship? Opening up and letting your tender underbelly show and asking for more compassion and time together. Or how about with your child? Being brave by asking them how school is really going? How differently might we parent or show up in our marriage if we knew what was under the surface, tucked inside the hearts of the people we love.
We get stuck.
At jobs, in relationships, in how people treat us. We accept this is our normal and we stay. We become stagnant, compliant. Accepting that our present is our future. Perhaps we entertain the idea that maybe someday we will change, but not now. Not today. The burnout is real. The mind numbing, soul crushing, fatigue inducing exhaustion steals our drive. It limits us. Each lie we believe is another bar we fit together until a cage surrounds us. We look off on the horizon, remembering the glory days when we felt invincible and that all things were possible. Before responsibilities saddled us and mortgages sang our names. When we were free and weightless, without the same burdens we carry now.
But there is always a light. Even if it’s dim. Even if we can’t feel the warmth yet. The light is one decision. One act of bravery. What if one act led to another and another? What if one choice created an avalanche of more opportunities? The only way we will ever know is if for a moment, 60 seconds, we cling to bravery and we ask the hard questions. We take an unveiled, honest look at our lives and ask for help in the areas we desperately need it. We choose action over sitting still. We take one decision at a time. Losing my Dad to cancer has brought into clear focus that our time on earth is short and fragile. We have things to do, people to love and a purpose to fulfill.
The decisions we make, shape our future. And consequently, the decisions we don’t make also impact us, sometimes even more so. When we do not know what we want or where we are headed, we drift. We are influenced more by what everyone around us wants more than our own desires. We go on the defensive or as I like to say, we initiate firefighter mode. With an imaginary hose in hand, we are putting out the fires all around us. It is sort of like playing whack-a-mole, standing back with the mallet in hand, eyes primed to see which mole we need to knock down next. When I live that way I am exhausted. My head hurts from trying to keep all the details straight. We have to buy a birthday gift for who? The party is when? The volunteer list is out now? I need to bring what? A call comes from school saying pick up is early today because of a sick kid. The appointments to keep, the lessons attend. The housework, the “work” work, plus all the tasks daily life brings (so much laundry!) and all the things to remember.
Of course, some of it we can’t avoid. Some of it we can (more on that in my next blog post!). But the more I live into the idea of 60 seconds of greatness, the more I see the things I want to appear in my life actually come into fruition. My priorities shift as I ask for what I need and reevaluate the things that no longer serve me. I’m scheduling time into my week to work on the projects that bring joy and purpose. Writing this blog had been on my heart for so long. One day I decided, I’m going to sit down and see what happens. I had to get out of my own way, release my fear of what others would think, and just do it. It hasn’t been a straight line, but it has been life-giving. Every time I sit down, the rest of the world falls away in the most beautiful way possible.
But something has to give. This season I am being challenged to put my ego aside. To not hold so tightly to things being done my way. To ask for help when I need it and accept it when it is offered. To show up with a mostly positive attitude and for once and for all not make eye contact with comparison. To not be so afraid of judgment when I write or speak or of the jeans I show up to school wearing. I can feel my shoulders relax and come down from my ears even as I type this.
As a classroom music teacher and a mom, I see every day how our kids are watching us. They take cues from how we behave. They are constantly being molded and shaped as they see us operate in the world. The more we can show them that bravery matters the better. I received a beautiful compliment last week from a teacher at school who saw that my middle daughter shut down some mean girl drama on the playground (doesn’t that stuff always go down during recess?!) and how she not only put an end to it she affirmed the girl who was getting picked on. Rather than walking away or pretending not to see it, she used her 60 seconds of greatness to help someone when they really needed a friend.
Courage is action.
Bravery set in motion changes all of our lives. By speaking up or into or simply offering a listening, compassionate ear to someone who desperately needs it, we can all accomplish great things. We can change the story of our lives and because we don’t live in a vacuum, that usually means a change for others as well. We might not ever know the full extent of the ripple effect our decisions will have. When my Dad made the decision to leave India and create a new home in America, it changed the trajectory of not only his life, but ultimately for me and my brother. We live in California because of a choice my Dad made fifty years ago.
As I type these words, I am writing to myself as well. To have courage, to be brave. To not be afraid of a 60 second, hard and uncomfortable conversation. To be willing to hear the truth about my own blind spots, even if I don’t want to hear it. To believe that I am worth good things and you are too. We are allowed to dream big, in fact, we are encouraged. A rising tide lifts all boats.
The first step can feel incredibly scary. A risk that we question if it is worth taking. For me, when I listen to the whispers and subsequently act or say the words I feel pulled to say, they usually have God’s fingerprints all over them. The beautiful reminder that I am not in charge, rather I am simply the conduit for a much bigger and greater purpose. The 60 seconds of greatness is faith in action. Trusting the prompting on my heart and then leaning into it rather than away. As humans, we are limitless. The possibilities are endless and opportunities are everywhere. Usually what stands in our way, is our fear. Our own self-doubt. The excuses, justifications, and laundry list of barriers. We see all the problems, even when the solutions are in front of us. My challenge to you (and to me!) is to seize my 60 seconds today. Where do you feel prompted? What area of your life has been trying to get your attention? Who do you need to talk to? Call? What decision needs to be made? What would happen if today, for 60 seconds, you took the risk? I can’t wait to find out.