Your Family Can Be Secretly Incredible, And It’s Easier Than You Think

Have you ever been inspired by the amazing work of others, but thought you were too ordinary to be that great?

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Picture is copyrighted 2014 and used with permission

I recently had one of those exciting and discouraging moments while reading Love Does by Bob Goff.

The book’s promise to “discover a secretly incredible life in an ordinary world” lit my heart on fire, but halfway through I began to doubt.

How can such an extraordinary man claim that the ordinary person can be incredible?

Bob navigated a 25-ft sailboat to Hawaii with no previous navigation experience. He went rock climbing with his 10-year-old son in a snow storm – because his son wanted to.

Bob counts some 20 heads of state as his friends, freed 70 children from African prisons in one day, and sold his pick-up truck so he could fly half-way around the world to meet a foreign dignitary with his kids on one week’s notice.

He left his cell phone number at the back of his best-selling book so he could live his desire to be the most available person. “People don’t follow vision, they follow availability.”

Bob might call himself ordinary, but clearly he’s not. I could never do ANY of that stuff. I’m doomed to be ordinary.

But is Bob really that special, or do I assume he’s special because he can do things I can’t?

I’m not a lawyer and can’t imagine being one. Yet there’s nothing particularly special about being a lawyer.

Being a lawyer is ordinary.

I’m not a daredevil, and don’t care to try. Yet based on the number of “fail” videos on YouTube, there seem to be plenty of people out there who enjoy risking life and limb.

Being a daredevil is ordinary.

I like to have a plan and be prepared. Spontaneous people leave me in awe because being spontaneous requires so much strength and patience for me. But maybe Bob isn’t that good at planning.

Being spontaneous is ordinary.

The ordinary parts of Bob combine to create the potential for incredible action.

Bob flew to Uganda with no agenda, noticed some kids in prison, asked a few questions and noticed he had an opportunity.

He bought the Ugandan law books, brought the cases to trial and restored 70 innocent kids to their homes.

Ordinary Bob didn’t moan about what he can’t do and doesn’t have. He used his ordinary skills and resources to seize an opportunity to touch lives.

The main difference between ordinary Bob and ordinary me is that Bob chose to act.

If it’s possible for ordinary Bob to do incredible things, then it’s possible for ordinary you and ordinary me.

I bet you’re already doing some incredible things that you don’t think are that special because you take your ordinary skills for granted.

Your combination of ordinary skills, ordinary resources, and ordinary environment is unique.

You can touch lives in a way no one else can.

Sometimes we focus so much on what we don’t have that we neglect to use what we do have.

I’ve worried so much about failing to give my children a good art education that I’ve neglected to do much music with them – and I’m a musician!

Let’s embrace what is ordinary about us.

Let’s hold our heads up high, not to look down on people, but to see people clearly enough to discover how we can touch their lives.

I bet the more we practice, the more of an impact we’ll have.

Discover a secretly incredible life in an ordinary world.

If we are confident in our ordinary abilities and open to our ordinary situation, we can lead secretly incredible lives where we make life for those around us a little better, a little less lonely, and a little more joyful.

“Secret” in this case is not exclusive, but humble. It’s likely that most people won’t understand or appreciate the work we’re doing. That’s okay.

One day our work might grow big enough to get noticed, but even then we’re likely to be misunderstood – no one will believe we are ordinary!

Who We Are: 2015 Survey Results

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Thanks to everyone who took my survey! I’m inspired and humbled.

Let’s get to know each other a little.

The wonderful readers of the Blue Ocean Families blog are 100% female. (I know this isn’t true. Male readers, let your voice be heard and take the survey here! Most people completed it in less than seven minutes.)

The average reader is between 30 and 44 years of age, has several young children, and spends a significant amount of time in the home.

All of you care about getting organized, reaching goals, and learning from other families. Most of you want to learn more about building a family culture, being productive and creative, child rearing, and creating your own Blue Ocean.

You aren’t so interested in leadership, but I tell you, you ARE the most important leaders of future generations!

You also gave me some great positive feedback, using words like “calm” and “gentle,” which I love.

Your words of advice I’ve taken to heart and am excited about learning how to deliver!

I am honored to be a fellow traveler with you. You are special women (and men-in-hiding) even though we all still struggle (mostly with getting things done!).

Thanks again! May you and your families grow where it matters!

Thank You For Reading The Blue Ocean Families Blog!

ThankYou

This week marks the half-year point for Blue Ocean Families. For six months I’ve posted every week.

Thank you for joining me!  It’s been a challenging and exciting journey for me.

How is it for you?

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Overcoming Fear: Practical Suggestions

Last week we talked about how our deep parental love for our children can help us face our everyday fears.

It’s one thing to gather our courage for our kids, and it’s another to know what the next step should be.

FearFighterMug

In high school I would cry like a baby trying to gain the courage to make a phone call. One day I invented an alter ego who would make phone calls for me.

My alter ego was beautiful and confident. She spoke eloquently and everybody liked her. She started making phone calls for me, and I slowly got better.

I still felt like a fool every time I hung up the phone, but at least I’d made the call.

Here are a few tricks that I’ve learned from dealing with fears like my fear of phone calls.

1. Practice in your head

I was surprised to discover it was easier for me to make phone calls in German than in my native tongue. Before calling in German I am forced to imagine the conversation in my head so I can look up the necessary vocabulary.

That preparation leaves me better equipped to make the call than when I make an unprepared call in English.

Having an alter ego to make phone calls was really a way to visualize a successful call before it took place.

It turns out this kind of mental rehearsal is excellent practice for any skill.

2. Find clarity

Ask yourself “What’s the worst that can happen?”

Often our fears are out of proportion with reality.

If I let my imagination follow my worst fears to their conclusion, I realize how ridiculous they are. Then I think about how I might recover even from the worst disaster, and suddenly I’m in problem-solving mode. That makes me feel less fearful and more empowered.

The more concrete we make our fears the less intimidating they are. If I think, “I’m afraid of driving,” I won’t want to get into the driver’s seat. If I redefine my fear to “I’m afraid I’ll stall in an intersection,” then I can see that I need more practice starting from a stand-still.

Now I have a specific action I can take to increase my confidence and ability and reduce my fear.

3. Keep a growth mindset

The concept of “growth mindset” verses “fixed mindset” deserves a post of its own. In short, the person with a growth mindset isn’t afraid of failure because he doesn’t see it as a permanent state, but one stop along the path of growth toward increasing success.

The person with a growth mindset says “I failed,” not “I am a failure.”

One bizarre case of a fixed mindset is my mental block with starting a fire. I’m not afraid of fire, it’s just something I don’t do. I’m sure I could figure it out, but somehow I believe I’m missing the special knowledge necessary to make a fire.

It’s like I’m stuck back in the time when my older sister was taught how to make a fire but I was still too young. “My sister can handle fire, but I can’t,” is still stuck in my head.

Simply noticing that our fear is based on a fixed mindset can help us view it as an opportunity for growth and take the next step.

4. Get the right tools

Facing a fear is hard enough. Get what you need to support your efforts.

I’m a bad speller. (Oops! I slipped into the fixed mindset!)  I struggle with spelling. I remember having to stay in from recess to study my spelling words since I’d done so badly on the last test.

Spell check and spelling calculators were hugely helpful in overcoming my fear of looking stupid because I couldn’t spell. They never laughed at me when I didn’t know how to spell a word, so I wasn’t afraid to ask.

I’m still not a great speller, and I’m still embarrassed at times, but I’ve gotten much better.

5. Let go of perfectionism

I still struggle with this one. Any help from the audience? Remembering that “good enough is better than perfect” has been a help. I struggle to act on it, though!

6. See fear as an opportunity for bravery

Thanks Monica, for sharing this idea with us last week.

Don your cape and feel heroic and brave as you fight that dragon of fear!

Your example of courage will inspire your family.

Please share your own tricks for fighting fear!