We all have them. Your boundaries are the virtual fenceposts in our lives that separate us from the “other”. The “other” can be from people, ideas, cultures, experiences, you name it.
I’m always surprised when I come up against one of my boundaries. I realize that as much as I pretend to be open minded, accepting and non-judgmental, there are certain things that stop me dead in my tracks- I hit one of my walls. And sometimes, I smack into the thing much harder than I ever thought I would.
I’ve been reading and talking about strengths a lot lately, and I have an opportunity to talk to someone next week about this topic in depth. I’m really excited about it- but more on that after (I hope) it becomes a reality. I know what my strengths are, and I’ve gotten pretty good at playing to them on most days. I know how to communicate them pretty well to others, and I feel very good about that.
But the problem for me comes when I know one of my strengths, or my experience, can help someone else, but I am helpless to act. It sends me straight into that boundary wall at full speed and I become frustrated and impatient.
In the case today, some people I know are organizing an event. After having organized a fair number of Podcamps, I know a thing or two about this, and would simply love to help. But I have to keep reigning myself in and scream “This is not my event and my show and I need to sit on my hands and say nothing”, but at the same point, I feel pulled by wanting to see the event succeed, wanting the event to help facilitate growth in the community, and just simply wanting to see it come off as a fantastic time for everyone.
Yet, this isn’t my baby. I know a lot about how to structure events so people feel comfortable and there is a flow. I think this is important in order to let people concentrate on the Why of being there, rather than worry about the “What’s Happening Next” of it all. In part, this is based on the fact I know way too much about basic psychology, and know from experience that if you don’t have the fundamental needs of “food, clothing and shelter” metaphorically met for a large group, it causes stress and tension.
But sometimes stress and tension is what your goal is at an event. You want people to break down their barriers and become different people. You want them to be out of their element and explore. Yet for some people, the chaotic-ness only makes them uncomfortable and shy, it does not make them feel more included. So how do you meet the needs of the extroverts and the introverts simultaneously?
Sometimes, I am willing to go into the lion’s den and experiment. But it’s not always easy. And it’s harder when some people seem to “get it” immediately, while others, like me, may not. It’s difficult to get people to participate when there is no safety net, but then there’s a sense of play that can come with having no rules whatsoever, as well.
So I am at a crossroads. I am fascinated by this tension in myself between control and letting go. Between walking the high wire without a net, and begging for the safety of the ground. And this is why I wrote down a quote from one of Maureen Dowd’s recent columns, something Paul Newman said to her: “You can do anything, as long as you are prepared to deal with the consequences.”
Is what I am feeling fear of loss of control, or is it worry about the consequences, or something totally different? I really have no idea. So, in the meantime, I think I’m just going to have to run my hand along my fences and boundaries, and get to know them a bit better. And maybe during the process, I can figure out what I am trying to keep in, what I am trying to keep out, and whether I need any of these fences at all. They just may be holding me back from the next great adventure.