Trust your wings. You can do hard things.
Last week was an exciting week in our family. My oldest son Lachlan graduated university and my youngest son Matthew graduated high school. Matt’s graduation was all the more special given that of the four graduations in our family over the last 12 months (including my son Ben’s high school graduation last June and my PhD graduation in January), this was the only one that was done in person.
Covid-19 has made us appreciate many things we’d previously taken for granted!
Matt’s graduation was also very poignant for me given the huge disruption he’s had to navigate during his high school years, including attending four high schools across three continents in the span of 14 months due to our family relocations with my husband Andrew’s (former) employer.
The morning I dropped him off at the boarding school he has just graduated from in California was one of the hardest parenting days of my life.
Matt had begged us to let him leave Singapore and move 10,000 miles across the world and despite our many reservations, Andrew and I decided to trust that, while he was only 15, he knew himself well enough to know that he was not going to thrive in the very academically-focused educational environment of Singapore. Yet that final hug goodbye wrenched on my heartstrings. As my fiercely independent 15-year-old waved me goodbye, I fought back tears until I got to my car where I sobbed for a good 30 minutes before I could even manage to start the engine.
Last Friday, Matt was awarded his schools highest honor – The Admiral James Stockdale Award – for moral courage and leadership at his graduation ceremony. My heart burst with pride and tears flowed yet again. Those strong wings he spread three years ago had only grown broader. I knew without doubt that as hard as it was to support him to fly so far, so young, we’d made the right decision.
Of course, our family situation is unique. You will also arrive at points along your journey through life that call you to do hard things; to trust that your wings are stronger than you know and that your heart can endure more than you may think.
As I wrote in You’ve Got This!, learning to ‘trust in our wings’ can not only spare us a lot of needless suffering but emboldens us to take the leap of faith in ourselves (and others) in those moments when it matters most.
(If you haven’t had one lately, it’s coming.)
Whatever challenge you are facing now, ask yourself this question:
What would you do today if you trusted yourself that, whatever happens, you can handle it?
I regularly encounter people who tell me how they wish they were braver, more confident and self-assured. I get it. Me too. Yet only when we dare to trust in ourselves more deeply and to take a leap of faith despite our doubts can we ever come to discover our innate capacity to do hard things. Or to use the wings analogy, to know just how strong our wings truly are – how far we can travel and how high we can soar.
The world needs more leaders like Matt and more leaders like you.
It needs more people willing to do hard things even when it requires breaking ranks with the comfortable and familiar.
So just for today, decide to trust in your wings – to choose courage over comfort, self-trust over self-doubt, faith over fear.
Then tomorrow, do the same.
In a world that is bombarding us daily with reasons to hunker down and play safe, never has it been more important to make a bet on ourselves.