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100DC Day 2: Boldness and Audacity

100 Day Challenge: Boldness and AudacityFor years I was bullied by a kid in school and at church. It was a defining series of events in my life that still (unfortunately) impacts me today. It determined — for some years at least — how I saw myself and what I thought I was capable of. By college, the burden of this skewed lack of esteem — absolutely none for myself and an outrageous amount handed over to a mean boy who knew nothing about my heart — made me almost desperate for a sign that I was, indeed, valuable, lovable, worthwhile.

Sometimes for better and sometimes for worse, that desperation drove me to do things far outside what I would have rationally chosen. One such means of finding some kind of general social acceptance, was to compete in beauty pageants. Somehow it seemed that if I were to be found acceptable based on the most superficial grounds — which were, after all, the grounds upon which I’d been dismissed and rejected — I would prove that the bully was wrong and I could gain a sense of peace.

Unfortunately, my pageant days didn’t accomplish that goal. They did, however, provide some much needed college funding, some dear lifelong friends, a handful of tiaras, and a few good lessons.

One of the most important lessons was that doing things outside of my comfort zone — whatever they were — was empowering. Whether they resulted in success or failure, the mere act of choosing boldness and audacity by doing something difficult expanded the circle in which I felt familiar, comfortable, and capable.

One of the best books I’ve read on this topic (now, sadly, out of print) is Kissing a Frog: Four Steps to Finding Comfort Outside Your Comfort Zone. It was written a decade ago by a woman named Sharlene Wells Hawkes and her premise is that our greatest successes in life will come in the moments we are outside of our comfort zones.

In 1984 Sharlene was Miss America. Before that she was Miss Utah. And her path to Miss Utah began at the Miss Utah Valley Pageant, where I was her attendant. I had the opportunity to see Sharlene up close and personal — as a competitor. She was confident and poised, but gracious and warm as well. And for nearly 30 years since (holy cow, we are old!) she has continued to be an example to me of someone who refuses to live life where it is easy. Rather, she looks for ways to serve and do good for her family and community without fear. (Or maybe with fear, but without letting fear stop her.)

When I watched today’s lesson about boldness and audacity, I thought of all those people in my life who do things far outside their comfort zones.

Boldness is the act of responding to a situation in a manner that may be viewed as daring to some, but is essential to effectively address the issue at hand.

For some of those I know, that boldness has been competing in the Miss American Pageant, starting a scrapbooking magazine with a second mortgage, or writing and marketing a top-selling book. For others, it’s looking someone in the eye, speaking up in a group, or scheduling another job interview.

Wherever your comfort zone lies today, realize that taking a bold step each day can expand that comfort zone tomorrow. And that continual movement can take you places you never imagined you could go.

Join me in the 100 Day Challenge!

{ 8 comments… add one }

  • Kelly Lester ( January 3, 2013, 11:02 am

    AMAZING post Alison. So inspiring. And I read your entire Bullying at Church post that you linked to above. My heart is broken for you and your daughters. It is just shockingly awful – the cruelness that young women and men can inflict upon each other. We’ve had some of these situations with our kids as well, but nothing to the extent of what you’ve suffered through. And SO distressing for it to occur in church, considering that is not what is being “taught”. I had a similar situation with a synagogue we used to belong to. The kids were allowed to run amok and be disrespectful even though that’s not what the Rabbi and the religious school staff were teaching. It infuriated me to say the least. And it embarrassed my oldest at that time. She was disgusted by her peers. An utterly confusing message being sent by the adults these kids are supposed to revere. What a disappointment. And yes, all too common :(
    Kelly Lester ( recently posted…Even more lunch box ideas for workMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith January 3, 2013, 11:25 am

    Kelly, thank you for the kind words and your insights.

    Years ago I saw a documentary about a school anti-bullying program. I haven’t been able to find it since and I don’t remember the name, but I would love to see it implemented.

    One of the first activities involved taking all the kids in the school to the gym with a line down the middle. The presenter asked all sorts of questions, framed as, “If you have ever experienced X, stand on the other side of the line.”

    Watching the kids faces and watching them painfully move to the other side or — sometimes even more painfully — watch who moved to the other side, made the kids see what was happening to people and, in a small way, recognized the pain everyone felt at some point over some issue.

    In the schools studied, this program completely transformed the school culture, at least for as long as those same kids attended.

    I have found that creating a culture is almost the entire battle, since cultures are persistent and self-perpetuating..

    In the current ward (congregation) we attend (we moved here in 2010 when we built the house), the culture is astoundingly different. After living in Eagle Mountain, we were simply not going to tolerate anything similar and, believe me, I had my mother bear claws out.

    After about six weeks, I asked Belinda what she thought about the ward. “Mom, there’s no one in this ward who isn’t nice.”

    I did a double take. Seriously? But I was waiting for girl’s camp. A week-long slumber party brings out the worst in a huge bunch of teenage girls.

    When the girls got home (both Belinda and Alana were teens that year), I grilled them. Finally Alana said, “Mom, there is just no drama in this ward.”

    I was happy that they both had a good time, but was unconvinced. At the time I taught gospel doctrine to the 16–18 year old boys and girls and was sure they’d fill me in. The next Sunday, I said, “So, Alana says there was no drama at camp. Tell me!”

    One girl piped up, “There totally was drama!”

    Aha! I knew it! “What happened?”

    “Well,” she said, “one night one of the leaders came in and told us we needed to go to sleep.”

    I waited.

    I waited.

    “And?”

    “And, yea, she made us stop talking and go to bed.”

    So I guess I live in nirvana or something now. But the “drama” of this ward was that the leaders tried to get them to sleep at 2:00 am.

    I don’t know how this culture was created or who is responsible, because it preceded me. But having a huge teen group who have been taught to practice kindness and decency is all the difference. That’s how it should be. :)
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…100DC Day 3: Do It NowMy Profile

  • Kelly Lester January 3, 2013, 1:26 pm

    YAY for no drama!!!! Wow. What relief, I’m sure. :)
    Was it this?? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geX7vnu32Sc I remember seeing the documentary you mentioned and this looks familiar. Here’s the website too: http://challengeday.org/

  • Alison Moore Smith January 3, 2013, 1:43 pm

    Wow, I would LOVE to be part of that and present that program. I’m not sure if it’s the one (I’ll have to watch some more of those videos), but it’s been around long enough to be.

    What a great thing to get people to realize others are worthy of consideration.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…100DC Day 1: Get Serious – Grow UpMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith January 3, 2013, 1:50 pm

    Teen Files 4 Minute Preview

    Yup, that is the right one! Thank you so much for finding this!
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…100DC Day 1: Get Serious – Grow UpMy Profile

  • Kelly Lester January 3, 2013, 1:56 pm

    Oh great! I’m so glad that’s what you were looking for. I remember seeing it and it was very powerful. I made my kids watch it too…
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  • Richard Alger March 17, 2013, 6:32 am

    Your bullying post is an incredible story! This brings so much insight into your life. You are made of stuff tougher than steel.

    Wow, I am so sorry you had to live through this and your daughter. I think I am one who might brush things off to avoid a conflict. This story clearly shows that boldly confronting wrongs is the best way to approach many wrongs.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 17, 2013, 11:29 am

    Richard, I’m home from church with two sick kids today. What a nice comment to wake up to on an otherwise icky St. Patrick’s Day. :)

    Lots of us avoid situations or put things off to avoid conflict and discomfort. But, you’re right, dealing with the issues head on is generally the better plan of action!
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…100DC Day 73: Pay the PriceMy Profile

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