My daughter loves to dance. When she was in kindergarten she performed a self-choreographed routine in her school’s Talent Show. It was a long one and after a couple of minutes I saw parents starting to stand as they started to applaud for her. That day I got a new title “Naveli’s mom”, and am known that way ever since in our neighborhood.

It was a joy to see her choreograph routines and enjoy herself as she danced away in our family room almost every day. One weekend I realized that I hadn’t seen her dance for a few days.Upon asking her she replied “My friends tell me I am good mamma. I think I have practiced enough”.

I am glad to hear that Navi. So you are a good dancer for an 8 year old. What would you like them to know you as when you are 9?

She looked at me with a confused look and asked “Well I want to become an astronaut. But that will take time. At 9 I will still be a dancer

I smiled. “In that case we will have to ensure that you are a good dancer for a 9 year old just like you are for an 8 year old. Shouldn’t we practice for that?”

Hmm” she nodded. I watched her fly as she moved towards the boom box and filled the room with music again.That was 4 years back. She is still dancing and striving to be a good dancer year after year….

A few days back, over a glass of wine with few friends the topic of discussion was “Lifestyles and stress”. The discussion went something like this…

“Work never ends. We think it will get better until something else starts”

“We just moved to this new house and there is so much to be done in the backyard”

“We are launching a new initiative…it will take a few tries before we get it right”

“My startup is picking up pace. I am spending a lot more time on road and in flights”

“I just invested in this new start up. Promising founding team though they are a bit green. I have to help them sequence the go to market”

As I was hearing them share their stories, the incident with Naveli flashed back and I realized that I was amongst friends who were constantly striving to reach a goal higher than they had already accomplished. Each new flight meant another journey and a new price. Those who were prepared to pay the price were excited to start their journey and the challenges it may bring, and others who weren’t were stressed. In fact those who were ready to take the next challenge but weren’t taking the leap were also stressed!

That observation made me think if the question of stress management is a question of making the right choices for ourselves. Choosing how far we want to fly and accepting to enjoy the long and possibly painful journey that comes with it. The higher we choose to fly the higher the price we have to be ready to bear. And until we are ready to bear that cost we have to choose to be content with the destinations we have been able to explore so far….until we are ready yet again.

But whether we choose to fly now or a little later, fly we must. Complacency isn’t natural human nature.

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