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Are You Idling?

Propel yourself forward with full-on commitment.

In my keynote performances, I use a six-foot unicycle to demonstrate how we can more effectively manage uncertainty and move through change.

If you’ve been in the audience, you’ve seen me weaving in and out of tables and chairs, racing across the room in dramatic fashion to convey simple, but meaningful points:

  • In order to move forward, on a unicycle or in life, you must intentionally lean your body forward, off balance, steering (and falling) into uncertainty.
  • Once you are off balance, you are motivated to move, harnessing the energy that comes with change.
  • It takes consistent, repeated action (in this case, pedaling) to maintain your forward progress.
  • There is no such thing as standing still. You are either going forward or going backward.
  • Failure to lean into change requires you to begin to “idle.” This means going forward, then backward, in order to halt your progress and resist the natural progression of life.

Idling is the illusion of progress – effort without accomplishment. Basically, you are marking time, moving forward a bit, then backward to stop your progress.  Moving through life this way is exhausting, as you can’t seem to build momentum for forward progress. And, when you glance backward at your life and realize that, after all that work, you really haven’t gone anywhere, it can be quite disheartening.

To break this pattern of idling in your life, you need to intentionally lean yourself forward, Off Balance, but On Purpose. This means reconnecting to a sense of purpose or meaning in your life, and taking action to propel yourself toward a worthwhile pursuit.

If you idle for any length of time, marking the same territory, backwards and forwards, you can begin to cut a rut beneath you. This well worn path feels comfortable, so you choose to remain their just a bit longer. Before you know it, you may feel “stuck” – trapped in the familiar patterns of thought and action. If you are in this predicament right now, follow these steps and answer the associated questions to break free from your “entrenched” position.

Into Action

  1. Connect to your Purpose. What is your compelling reason for moving forward? By clarifying your mission, you’ll find that uncertainty transforms to excitement.
  2. Lean Into Uncertainty.  What action or commitment would be the equivalent for you of leaning forward on a six-foot unicycle? Whatever it is, do it.
  3. Ask for a Push. Who can help? To commit to the process of change, you might need a nudge from someone you trust or a guide to show you the way. Ask for help. Tell a friend or colleague what you intend to do, so that they can cheer your progress and hold you accountable.
  4. Take Repeated Action. What actions will you continue to take on a regular basis to keep moving forward? You don’t have to do it all at once. But you must do something consistently.

Idling can be comfortable, and it appears to be safe. But, as I often say, “If you limit yourself to what’s comfortable, you deny yourself what’s possible.” And, in the long run, idling is anything but “safe.” Withdrawing from the natural process of change, growth, and progress can be very risky business.

I wish you purposeful forward progress in all areas of life. And those sentiments are anything but idle.

  • Tak Kurtz says:

    yep…it sure feels like idling to me. But I miss our idle conversations…I have never had the courage to try that dismount onto the stage…I always liked that dismount! Afraid I would fall on my face…isn’t that what you are talking about? Maybe I need a push.

  • Craig Wagner says:

    Found myself idling too much lately and feeling unsatisfied. Thanks for the wake up call. refreshing as always.

  • Gloria Ernest says:

    Dan, just when I think you’ve said it all, you create a message like this one that is life changing and empowering for those of us who watch in awe as you cycle through life! To have confidence like yours is something I believe every individual on earth would love! SO thank you for sharing how it can be achieved!! You are forever AWESOME, Dan!
    Cheer4U! and God bless!
    Gloria

  • Bryan says:

    WOW, Did I need to hear this today. Lately I have not only been idling, but going backwards. Loosing vision of the purpose of life. By refocusing on the need to push forward, I can find new goals and continue to reach for them.

    Thank you for your words of encouragement. God has truly blessed you.

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