Pack Power into One Simple Step

As a 14 year old skinny and rather awkward kid, I learned a winning step-at-a-time approach. Alone in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia, I first discovered the brain’s propensity to risk, step and win.

In reality, it seemed more like surviving than winning at first.

Pack Power into One Step

Looking back – triumph hardly seems possible. Penniless on Barrington Street near dusk, I still taste the sheer panic of darkness setting in.

Doom pressured me to  locate a rental room that would accept mere promises of payment.

Step Small at the Start

Plans to survive the night eroded whenever I fixated on hurdles beyond my immediate reach. 

This was no time to plot how to stay in school, much less maintain any valued position on the 10th grade honor roll. As darkness rolled in around me, I opted for the one-day-at-a-time alternative.

Do you struggle to survive a night’s terror? Find yourself sinking into seemingly insurmountable frustrations?

If doom grips you at any moment, like it trapped me as a teen  – why not opt for one simple game plan? One tiny-step in the direction of a dream, could win you another shot at success.

Focus on the Next Opportunity

Let’s face it, we slip faster into a focus on anxiety and fear, than we shift gears to ensure a win.  Why so? We’ve been socialized to favor stress over solutions.

Sudden loss of my mother to cancer, left six underage siblings all sinking more than we swam. Two brothers committed suicide. Two sisters disappeared.  Hopelessness shouted its loss from every corner of my reality.

Armed with little more than a broken heart, I focused more on tattered images than on triumphs for a finer future. Gradually though, as my focus shifted from horrific loss, a brighter sunlight appeared.  Fresh insights nudged me along steps toward earning a simple meal and another day’s rent.

You could say my laundry depot job saved my bacon, but I’d rather say I learned how brains reboot for innovative hops over hurdles.

Leap for Novel Possibilities

No question,  survival can be daily and at times it even seems grisly. Homelessness felt like a jungle of scary creatures, whenever darkness hit before I could pony up a day’s rent. Only by shifting lenses – did I spot a novel game plan to escape fear’s slugs.

Luckily brains come with dopamine lifelines that equip us to risk another baby step in better directions. Dopamine nudges you to  advance, even when reason shouts, Retreat! Once stoked,  serotonin can also fuel a  feisty and passionate determination, to dance forward in novel steps. How so?

In my case, that larger-than-life  hope to stay on the 10th grade honor roll – packed a compelling dream.  One simple choice lit a narrow pathway through poverty’s maze into a brighter trail forward.

Spot Hope Around Your Next Corner

From that first day I walked along Halifax’s water-soaked streets – ratted job ads in hand, I longed for something more than another day’s rent.

Not much made sense back then, until I simply selected a new game plan to survive succeed another day.

Check out  people here who exchanged long range unemployment traps for a new mindset into work – one step at a time.  You?

What simple game plan would spark your dream into the reality you deserve? What if you stepped in a winning direction today?

7 Comments

  1. Ellen – Sharing your personal story is a powerful way to illustrate what our brains and our Selves can be.

  2. eweber says:

    Anne, I appreciate your kind words – and you leadership that models all I write and more! You continue to inspire me with risks you take to improve broken places:-) Together – we are even stronger and I support parts you play!

  3. Ellen,
    What a crystal clear demonstration of how transition is possible even in dire circumstances. When my life feel apart after devastating cancer, I too had to bring myself to look at only one thing: the next moment. Sometimes it was only the next breath. One more breath. One more. One more. Brains like it when we breathe. Strange lessons were learned, such as the fact that I will choose pens and journals over groceries. And being in one moment has another benefit: serendipity. Many days I did not know where dinner would come from, yet during those long months, I was treated to more wild salmon than any time in my life! Often from a friend I wasn’t sure I had. What I developed during those years was a robust foundation built on the wisdom of listening to the moment. And today, I am enjoying the harvest of everything I planted while taking only the step I could see right in front of me. Thank you as ever for your insight and generosity with your stories. –Suzanna

  4. eweber says:

    Thanks Suzanna – for sharing your own next moment lessons and thanks for the wisdom you add to the field.

    I especially liked your reminders that: “Brains like it when we breathe.”
    Thanks also for sharing the good news that: you are “enjoying the harvest of everything I planted while taking only the step I could see right in front of me.“

    It was a special honor for me to discover that my story also highlighted your story – Suzanna.

    Love the notion of stepping forward to learn new lessons daily. Wonderful takeaways from the meaningful work we are called to do. Stay blessed.

  5. DorleeM says:

    Thank you for being so courageous and forthcoming in sharing a part of your personal journey, Ellen.

    I feel for all that you had gone through… I had always been most impressed with your intelligence, innovative spirit, and fascinating work in which you link neuroscience learnings with valuable leadership takeaways.

    However, now I must take my hat off to you – for you to have accomplished all that you have under those difficult and painful circumstances, is incredibly inspiring – you are truly not only a positive role model but one that illustrates many of the concepts you are trying to teach us :) Your life story is one that “walks the talk!”

  6. eweber says:

    Dorlee, thanks for your kind and encouraging words. How critical it is to remember the wonderful places we each are privileged to learn and to grow and to work together with valued friends and fellow leaders.

    Would you agree that for each of us – there are places where we meet the wall of a mighty sea that slows or stops our journey. I’ve discovered we cannot cross over without help in the form of faith, family, friends and refreshing new brainpowered tools in the form of leadership strategies.

    Many thanks for the way you inspire and teach us daily in that regard! Best, Ellen

  7. I am left absolutely speechless after your story! It’s a real science fiction scenario that you’ve managed to survive all this and become what you are today. What a fighter!

Rss Feed Tweeter button Facebook button Technorati button Reddit button Myspace button Linkedin button Webonews button Delicious button Digg button Flickr button Stumbleupon button Newsvine button Youtube button