THE BLOG

Life Can Turn on a Dime

02/12/2015 08:30 pm ET | Updated Apr 14, 2015

The saying, "Life can turn on a dime" neatly encapsulates a precautionary tale. You know how it goes: "Live your life for today, because tomorrow you could walk out and be hit by a bus."

However, seen from a different angle, "Life can turn on a dime" can express an optimistic viewpoint. I've come to appreciate the phrase as a hopeful one. Isn't it comforting to know that quite possibly, at any moment, it can hit you -- a sudden revelation -- opening your eyes to something you never realized before?... that will offer you a new perspective?.....something that can change your life?

Maybe I've gained my appreciation of this kind of instant insight through my coaching experience. Most of the people I coach are middle-aged or heading towards it -- so they're ripe and ready for change and awareness, plus they're well past the point of blaming their parents. Not that there isn't a time and place for considering the backstories, history and reasons for our behavior. But there comes a time when acceptance and personal accountability matter most. And this opens the door for life to turn on a dime.

Many times I have witnessed that moment of a new perspective settling in, either when standing on a stage looking out at an audience, or even over the phone on a coaching call. It usually looks or sounds something like shock, confusion, acceptance, and then... peace. In an instant. A new perspective. A moment of clarity that offers a new way to look at things. Like the tiny money piece itself from which the phrase originated -- the smallest of US currencies -- life can turn around in the smallest possible moment.

I've had my own moments with this many times. Probably the most significant of these came several years ago, when I happened to be sitting in a coach training session, and first heard Marianne Williamson's poem, "Our Deepest Fear." One line in that poem: "Your playing small doesn't serve the world,,." rocked my world. In an instant.

It was in that moment I realized that my long-held story that I was "shy" was actually an old tape running through my mind that was keeping me small. More importantly, it was keeping me from doing bigger things. Holding me back from serving in the way I know I'm capable of. Bam! Toss out the old view and make way for the new one. A new way of living, that comes with new actions and new goals for bigger and better things.

Another unforgettable, instantaneous insight happened at a weekend workshop-- when I realized that I wasn't always the "last one chosen," as I'd come to believe over the years. I suddenly saw with great clarity that it was not "they" who were doing the choosing, but me: because I didn't like the way a lot of games in life and business are played, I had been choosing all along to stay in the proverbial back of the line.

Combined, these two "turn on a dime" moments changed my life. Knowing that it was me in charge of deciding my position in the line, I am empowered to decide when I want to lead and when I don't want to participate. You won't ever find me playing a win-loose game. It's not in line with my beliefs and integrity.

"Shy" has been replaced with visibility. Who would have thought? But the fact is I can't make a difference in the world without visibility. After my "moment", the first thing I did was to hire an acting coach. Not to learn how to put on an act, but to learn how to show up authentically when nervous. Within two years I spoke on dozens of stages, including a national convention, and in front of thousands.

After these "life can turn on a dime" moments, it's all about choice. You are now empowered to make a different choice. Your mindset has been forever altered and each and every action step you take towards your objectives is your choice.

As I said, there's a time and place in life for long, introspective therapy -- to get to the bottom of things. But it gives me great hope to know that for all of us, life can turn on a dime. For the better. At any moment, what we thought was true may not be. And what is possible is right around the corner.

I'm not saying it's magic; perhaps it's simply that we get to a point in life that we just want to get on with it... without needing, or wanting to get to the bottom of things. We want change and are open to receiving it. So we open ourselves up to the possibility of positive, life-changing, turn-on-a- dime moments.

A new perspective. A life-changing decision. Awareness of something previously unseen. Every day seems so much more exciting and hopeful when you consider that on this day, your life can turn on a dime. Today could be a breakthrough day that rewards you with very different tomorrows.

All possible because life can turn on a dime.