For whatever the reason, I sat with my legs crossed as the other speaker made her presentation. Thirty minutes. I thought about how ill-advised my position was several times.
Yet, I convinced myself that there was a sophisticated look to the way I was sitting. It was only for a little while. No harm could come from this innocent posture.
As the previous speaker made her closing remarks, I shifted in my chair and looked down at my notes. I really didn’t ever see my notes, because I became aware of something much more important. My right leg was asleep.
You know what it’s like. Initially, it’s all mental. No feeling. But as time marches on and sensation begins to return, you feel the tingling and the realization overtakes you: “Until this passes, walking will almost be impossible.”
It’s not paralysis. Instead, you are keenly aware that every movement with the impaired leg will be challenging and painful — perhaps even perilous.
But the moment comes, as it came for me, that you have to take that first step.
Fortunately for me, I had on a wireless microphone. So following the introduction that seemed far too short. I stood and began addressing the audience from where I had been seated. There was no podium, so it didn’t seem too awkward . . . at first. But the chairs were at the back of the stage. I soon realized that I had to take a step toward the audience, I had to begin to move. So, I waited for my moment, summoned every ounce of will within me, and took a very small step.
I can’t say that it was pleasant. But the movement did a number of things.
First, it brought a degree of confidence. I hadn’t fallen down. I hadn’t revealed my discomfort to the audience. I was making progress in my presentation.
Second, that step increased the flow of blood to my impaired leg. Sure, the tingling was intensifying. But recovery was imminent. Taking the small step boosted my ability to move.
Third, moving that tiny distance gave me a new perspective on my audience. I could see that I would need to move a lot to keep them engaged. I saw a clearer path to success. It wasn’t going to happen from the back of the stage.
And finally, all of the anxiety over that first step changed my future. I probably won’t cross my legs like that any more. And, if I do, I will know that the consequences are temporary and can be overcome by beginning with even the smallest of steps.
In dealing with life’s problems, we are often brought to a state of near-paralysis. The challenge seems too great. In this short series, From The Smallest of Things, we’ve pointed to the way that small things can tackle even big problems. You must Create a Small Space in your heart, you must Breathe a Small Prayer, you must Allow a Small Answer, and finally you must do something — you must take a step, even if it’s small.
Much like dealing with the stress of a leg that’s fallen asleep, we must best the forces that keep us from moving toward a solution. Remember that once you’ve paused and prepared, taking even the smallest action can:
- Instill a new level of confidence in you. Realizing that you can move and negotiate and respond will bring a brighter outlook to your day.
- Overcome the inertia. Movement energizes us. The new experience of doing something — anything — stimulates our creativity and works out the stiffness in our thinking and our willingness to act.
- Give us new insight. We are able to look at the problem from a new angle. Sometimes, it doesn’t seem nearly as bad as it first appeared. Or sometimes it is worse. Regardless, we have a better idea of what we’re facing.
- Better prepare us for our future decisions and actions. We learn through our experiences, even the smallest ones.
We like stories about courageous people — the heroes. You know what makes a hero? One small step.