Outside My Comfort Zone Is Where I Need To Be

Well, it’s over.  The big race is over.

If you want to read the blow by blow of how the day went, you can visit my fitness blog.  It includes all the geeky details that people who routinely attend races and things like that might be interested in.

In the last paragraph of my second post about the day (two 1000+ word entries were enough, right?) that the event was life changing for me.  Overstating?  Maybe.  Then again, maybe not.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had that kind of direction or a goal.  Honestly, since 2004, when I stopped working for Rick Springfield, I’ve never had a situation where I felt that all of my skills and knowledge were brought to bear to make something happen.  And this event pushed me very, very far outside my comfort zone.

Right from the start, I had to make contact with strangers.  This would surprise people who knew me personally, except those closest to me, but I truly hate “cold calling” people I don’t know.  Soliciting them for something, asking them for something.  Is it fear of rejection?  Is it shyness?  I’m not sure, but I’ve never liked it, never felt good at it.  It’s why I like email better than phones.  It’s easier to sound composed and poised when you have the ability to backspace.  I put off making the nearly 40 phone calls and in person visits until I literally had no choice any more.

Then there was working with the people who had previously worked on the race, some of them for the last 20 years.  They were all strangers to me, and most of them significantly older than me.  Again, my insecurity came into play here.  Would they like me?  Would they be willing to share with me how things usually went?  Would they think I was some kind of interloper who was traipsing all over their turf?  I like to be a leader, certainly, but it is usually with a group I have chosen and assembled because I know them and their skillset. Would these people support me or back out, leaving me in a real lurch?

But as the months have gone on, I’ve slowly gotten better at both things.  I got to know my committee members, added a few new ones, and communicated with them regularly (still mostly by email, but I learned who needed to be dealt with on the phone, too).  I’ve gotten better about the cold calling, to the point where I might put it off still but I don’t dread it the way I used to.

There were also things that I really liked doing on this race that I haven’t had a chance to do in a very long time.  I designed a new logo for the race, giving a nod to the events in Newtown.  That was extremely important to me, and since I was in charge, I could do it.  I redesigned the entire brochure, using my graphics skills that have been quietly growing cobwebs.

By the time race day grew near, I had gained a confidence that has been missing from my world for a long time.  My committee not only seemed to be supportive of me, but they seemed to genuinely respect the work I was doing.  These strangers became friends.  They were helpful, friendly, wonderful new additions to my world.

Other than a few minor glitches during the event, it went off without a hitch.  Nearly a thousand people descended on our local park that day.  Nearly 700 of them ran or walked the 5K.  Another 225 kids ran the kids’ race.  We had about 50-75 people volunteer doing everything from putting the after race food and refreshments together, to pointing people in the right direction on the course, to helping with parking.  It was just a tremendous feeling to watch it all come together and know that each of those tiny little details was something I’d made happen.

I can’t wait for next year.

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