James Bryant Conant was fond of saying: “Behold the turtle. It makes progress only when it sticks its neck out.” If you research Conant (1893 – 1978) you will discover that he was an American chemist, a very transformative President of Harvard University (who almost got dismissed of that title due to his forward thinking & actions), and the first U.S. Ambassador to West Germany. It is fitting that this quote was made by a man who continuously and consistently pushed the envelope for his time.
I was talking with one of my personal friends and life mentors today, who reminded me that I need to still be like the turtle in every area of my life. Whether you are thinking about business or personal life, it is good advice to remember the turtle. How far do you think you will get if you stay safe and secure in all of your actions? If staying where you are right now is your goal, then by all means, stay. However if getting ahead is your goal, then make this quote personal to your life: “You only make progress when you stick your neck out.”
The turtle is safe when he is in his shell. You are safe in your comfort zone. However if the turtle (or you) would like to reach another destination, he has to stick his head and neck out of his shell. Even though his head no longer has the protection of his hard shell in this stance, it is the only way he can move forward. He could get hurt this way. His head is soft and sensitive to harm in this position. Sound familiar??
Relationally, how many times have you felt the initial surge of fear? That nagging doubt that the person you are thinking about might not like you as much? They might disappoint you, hurt you, leave you, or many other negative feelings your mind can conjure up? The mind wants to protect the heart. The heart just wants to love and be loved. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is a very brave thing! There are “what if” scenarios that is might not work and that it might work. Is it worth being brave IF it just might be IT?? Even if it doesn’t work out… guess what? You WILL be alright. You are here right now, reading this right now, which means however many times you’ve loved and lost in your life, you made it through. You will make it through. I say, be brave.
Professionally, this quote repeated on a daily basis is a great idea to push yourself on to the next level. Stepping out of your comfort zone and into the areas that make you nervous is both frightening and exciting. When Babe Ruth retired in 1935, his 1330 career strikeouts was an MLB record. However he is known for establishing the MLB record career home runs and is now a legend! Babe Ruth talk didn’t fear being mocked for striking out more than anyone else. He just kept swinging! Babe Ruth has some pretty great quotes to go along with this topic as well: “Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” “I swing with everything I’ve got. I hit big or I miss big. I like to live as big as I can.” Just like the turtle, Babe Ruth put himself outside of a comfort zone and made greatness for himself! In spite of everything. If you keep getting up, keep fighting, keep moving, no matter how many times you get knocked down you WILL make the finish line!
Even if you do not aspire to be a legend in the public’s eye, this lesson to be like the turtle still applies to any amount of progress in your life. So do it, I know you can. Stick your neck out of your shell. Make the move forward. Make that ask for something you want. Make the call. Send the email. Write the letter (I know, old fashioned huh?!). I’ve lost literally every personal belonging & relationship simultaneously in my life before, and yes it sucks and hurts and takes some getting back up. But I GOT BACK UP and am even farther ahead now that I was then. I am still here, my children are still here, my life is still happy, I am still smiling, I am still moving forward. So once again I am reminding you, as well as myself, to look at yourself in the mirror. Tell yourself that YOU are worth it. Put your shoulders back, stand up straight, take a deep breath in, and exhale then smile! Now, stick your neck out for progress for yourself!
Coming out of my shell & sticking my neck out along with you,
Sonya… She Idealist