What would you do if success was guaranteed?

Happy new year everyone!

This Hogmanay has felt like even more of a transition than usual for me. It could be a combination of Brexit, and the unknown of that combined with the unknown of Covid, and how different our Christmas and new year celebrations were from our usual chaotic and rowdy gatherings with friends and family.

Most years I think about new year resolutions. That doesn’t mean I set them, far less keep them, I simply think about what a helpful new year resolution might be, and what I’d like for the year. Sometimes I act on that and sometimes, like the genius ideas that come to me at 4am and are gone by the time I get up, it's forgotten about.

Today, I was thinking about a conversation I had this week with someone I think it truly incredible. We were talking about our work and how on occasion we both play small. For me playing small is when I observe rather than contribute, support rather than lead, suggest others rather than myself, build on ideas rather than put my own forward, take a backseat rather than drive.

There’s huge value in observing, supporting, suggesting, and building so these aren’t always playing small. Often these are absolutely the right thing to do. However, there are occasions when I know I could speak up, add more, put myself forward, out there, take the leap and I don’t. Those are the times that I play small.

I am afraid of making an idiot of myself, of people saying, “who does she think she is?” and other reasons that I recognise as completely made up and in my head. So, thinking about a new year resolution and change, two questions came to mind. Two questions I ask myself when I notice I’m playing small and want change.

The first, “What would I like to have happen?” and, the second, “What would I do if success was guaranteed?” When I ask myself these questions, the first helps me be clear about what I want, what I really want, and the second encourages me be a bit bolder, a bit braver, it pushes me a bit harder.

So, this morning I thought, what would I like to have happen this year, and my mind (as it often does) wandered completely off at a tangent.

I thought about some beautiful tubes of paint that I had been given years and years ago as a teenage birthday present. There were 12 tubes, each perfect, small and exquisite. They were in a box with a professional grade brush that were pristine and elegant compared to my grubby every-day brushes. For months I looked at them and squeezed tiny blobs of paint out to test the colours. And then I’d put them back in the box and arrange the tubes so that they again lay perfectly angled side by side.

I was in awe of those paints and brushes. So much so that I was afraid that whatever I painted would not be worthy of them and would never equate to their beauty. Then one day I tried to squeeze a tube and the paint had dried up. The paint was all unusable, and I hadn’t painted a single picture.

And would I have painted with them if success had been guaranteed? In some ways I loved simply admiring them.... and yes, I am sure I would have.

So, this year? To use that metaphor, I’ll look out for the exquisite paints and brushes that come my way and I’ll paint with them in a way that is a bit bolder, a bit braver and pushes me a bit harder.

And I wish you all a wonderful 2021 with an abundance of exquisite paints and brushes to paint and create with.

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