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He who hesitates is lost: lessons from a homeless man

Posted Jan 10 2011 12:00am

Back to work after a nice holiday break, I settled into my work chair to begin my week of listening to and helping people create more satisfying lives.  This chair, which has been with me for years, is infused with stories of hope and heartbreak, loss and connection, joy and sadness.  Every client has a unique personal story and journey through life, so I never know what each client meeting will bring.  So, it was with curiosity and anticipation that I settled into my seat, picked up my steaming cup of coffee brought from home, and opened myself to the first client story of the week.

Sitting with his hot cup of tea at 8:00 am on Monday morning, my first client said, “I can’t figure out why I continue to hesitate to be me.”  I felt the universal truth of this statement deep in my soul.  This common human struggle is universally felt by most people.  My client’s eloquent and pithy question to himself, articulated in my office for us to bat around, turned out to be the theme of most, if not all, of my clients this week.

This was no big surprise, given that this is the first week of the New Year and change is on everyone’s mind.  I was proud of my clients, because not one of them mentioned the phrase ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ .   They all know that real change is difficult and they are able to look deeper within themselves for nuggets of their personal essence that are still out of their grasp, or so fledgling that they worry they might ‘misplace’ them again.

While riding my exercise bike and watching the Today Show one morning this week, I watched Ted Williams, the formerly homeless man with a wonderful voice, stop hesitating ‘to be himself.’  After years of family disconnection and drug and alcohol abuse, Ted has had two years of sobriety.  He created a sign, which he held standing by the side of the road, alerting the world of his personal essence - a wonderful voice.  This courageous act caught the attention of the media and he now has a second chance to ‘be himself.’


I just began reading 'Linchpin' by Seth Godin '.  In this book, he challenges everyone to become indispensible.  He talks about using our creativity and ingenuity to become more fully ourselves and how this adds value to lives, businesses and organizations.

This year, I have challenged myself to do one courageous, un-ordinary act every week.  I have challenged myself to break out of my comfort zone, to live out of the box, once a week, in a way that feels extraordinary to me. 

I have challenged myself to find those nuggets of hesitation within me that still cover up areas of my personal essence and to stop hesitating to be fully me.

Can you imagine what this world would be like if everyone stopped hesitating to be the ‘who’ they really are?

How are you going to respond to the challenge to be more fully yourself?

I would love to know.   So, let me know when you perform a personal act of courage to be more fully yourself.  At the end of the year I will put the list on my blog and together we can see how much collective courage we have.

To hear Chris read this post aloud click below:



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