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“Be careful, small heart.”

Greetings from Disney! I’m on vacation this week, but have time for a quick post before my family disowns me.

Remember Britta Alexander of Eat Media and the post about overcoming writer’s block? She has a couple more kids since we last talked to her (twins!) and a new book coaching business called Year of the Book. One of her clients is Patty Chang Anker, whose book Some Nerve was just named one of the most powerful new memoirs by Oprah.

This is a book about tackling the fear and comfortable habits that keep us from fully living. We thought it was a good topic on the heels of our last post about life goals.

Here’s the gist:

Patty Chang Anker was raised by Chinese immigrants whose favorite phrase was xiao xin or “be careful, small heart.” Now 40, with two adopted girls of her own, Anker felt as if, “given my nervous nature, my bookish upbringing, my midlife responsibilities, and boundless propensity for tripping and falling and hurting myself, my comfort zone was less a zone and more a skittish zigzag from car to coffee shop to supermarket to office to sofa to fridge to bed, where I lay awake worrying.” She decides to challenge herself; first, by learning how to dive off a diving board—then, she pushes herself to tackle the rest of her fears, from throwing away clutter to riding a bicycle. Does she conquer them all? No. But she does confront them—and motivates her friends in the process, including the one who is afraid of driving. Reading her challenges is downright inspiring—once you get past her standing on a ledge.

I’m grateful to my parents, who encouraged us to be independent thinkers and risk takers. As I try to figure out the lesson in Patty’s book, it’s not so much me I’m worried about. Or any of you, for that matter. You all seem pretty remarkable, impatient and feisty.

I’m thinking about how I pass this sense of adventure onto my kids. (Or anyone, for that matter). We’re vacationing in Florida this week, and because we’re spending 24/7 together, their personalities are emerging in ways I don’t see from 6:30-8:00 every night. For example, I’ve got one Safety Marshall and one who spits into the wind.

At their best, Safety is a planner who wants everyone to have the best possible experience and Spitter is the happy-go-lucky, singing in the shower sort. The bad underbelly is that they quickly opt out of activities that aren’t comfortable, predictable or immediately entertaining.

Have an answer for me? I’m interested to hear your stories of how you motivate your kids/your team/your friends to shed stubborn, safe behaviors for curious, playful ones that will deliver them to greatness.

Email me here.

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