Thursday, December 12, 2013

Let's plunge, shall we?

The sign I made at work yesterday.

Growing up at summer camp, I was often met with a clogged toilet in one of the two bathhouses we had in the woods. Encountering these catastrophes as a kid, I would crinkle my nose, back out of the stall, and walk three stalls down to a less smelly, free flowing toilet.
After washing my hands, I'd promptly run away, afraid that if I told a counselor about my findings, they’d try to teach me “responsibility” and “initiative” and other crap like that.

The Waldorf, one of the bathhouses at camp. 

This pattern of discovery/running away continued for several years until I was a counselor myself at this very same summer camp. I skirted through the first few years on staff, avoiding all such clogs. I’d hide from campers when they saw the problem, hoping I wouldn't have to be the one to fix it. This worked great for three summers. Until the fourth. 

I was completely caught off guard. The little girl came right up to me. There was nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide.  

I had to plunge.

It’s occurs to me now that throughout my formative years, this was the first of many experiences I would have to plunge. Beyond taking care of far too many literal summer camp plunges since, I have had the opportunity to plunge and fix many uncomfortable situations. Bonding with a girl I had no desire to get to know. Talking down my cable company to get a discount for six months. Managing authors who were doing more damage than good with their writing. Each of these situations (and many others) needed plunging. And it was up to me to do so. 

Hudson, making his own mess that I have to clean up all by my-freaking-self.

As I grew into adulthood, I found myself more often than not unable to find someone else to fix these uncomfortable situations for me. Avoiding the problem was either not an option, or an option that would hold me back from my goal. And so, plunger in hand, I dug in.

And that’s how I found myself willing to drive my new friend to the airport, an hour away.
And how I found myself saving $20 a month on my cable bill.
And how I found myself talking with clients I shouldn't have needed to talk to and taking on projects that led to raises, promotions, and leadership.
And how I've found myself plunging—yes, literally—at work, when no else would. As in, today, thankyouverymuch.

Because in the end, someone has to do the dirty work. And if you can learn to do it yourself, you’ll grow. And you’ll reach. And you'll fail. And you’ll learn. And you'll succeed. And others will notice. And they’ll help you grow. And you’ll feel more powerful. And you’ll be more powerful.

Bring it on, Katniss.

Because life will always need to be plunged. And the sooner you learn to do it, the easier it’ll get.

Practice, practice, practice being uncomfortable. Expand your comfort zone. Repeat the hard challenges until they become routine. Welcome the awkward experiences. Rehearse how you’re going to handle them. Until they become easy and comfortable.
The more you plunge, the more progress you make.

Give it a shot. Because life is worth the shit. 

Livin' the dream.

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