Years ago, a physical therapist put a bosu ball in front of me and told me to step up onto it. I tried, but I couldn’t find my balance and so I stepped off. “We’ll stick to the doing exercises on the floor,” he said, putting the bosu ball off to the side. 

A few years later, another physical therapist turned the ball upside down (with the flat side up, ball side down) and instructed me, while holding my hands to step up onto it. My leg shook uncontrollably, and once again, I stepped off. 

The bosu ball clearly wasn’t a good recovery tool for me. 

Two months ago, Dave Bender, my physical therapist here in Baltimore, put a bosu ball in front of me—flat part up—and told me to step up with one foot. Whatever, I thought, I know how this is going to go! But, I like Dave, and so I tried it. 

With my leg (and body) shaking, like an infant trying to stand for the first time, I looked up at Dave and rolled my eyes. There was no way. Then Dave started offering some thoughts on what might be causing the pain in my arms. Too captivated by what he was saying and also curious how long I could withstand the shaking, I stayed on the ball. 

Thirty seconds later, my body adjusted, and my leg stopped shaking. Ever since that day, I’ve been able to step up and immediately find my balance. That’s 30 seconds of shaking for many months (and hopefully years) of being able to do the exercises that will help my body stay strong. 

Thirty seconds. That’s it. 

What if we could all commit to experiencing the wobble long enough to find our new balance? Imagine how many dreams would be realized if more leaders, physical therapists, and even parents let their team member’s wobble. What would happen if we let them see us wobble? 

Would they be more willing to— 

  1. share their good ideas,
  2. offer to step up, even if they don’t know what they’re doing, or even
  3. become more apt to stay engaged on the team because they can count on the very thing most of us crave (yet hide from)—Challenge.

Yes! We all want to be challenged. Even if we have given up countless times before, we still want to be challenged. Some will never say it; most desperately want it. And… we want others to help us believe that we can overcome the wobble. 

We can all overcome the wobble—it simply requires staying with it long enough to learn, adjust, or connect the dots. 

Try this two-pronged approach to helping your team, clients, or even children step into their potential— 

  1. Let them see you wobble. Put your name in the hat for a promotion, get that degree, take the class you’ve been eyeing, speak up at important meetings… try something you have never done, and share in the journey. Doing so will make the second approach easier.
  2. Put the bosu Balls ball in front of them. Ask them for help with something important, be okay with their shakiness and insecurities, encourage and support them. Help them make tweaks until they find their balance.

They will find their balance, and when they do they will be so thankful that you challenged, encouraged, and supported their greatness. Of course, you’ll improve measurably in challenging others as you feel the wobble yourself. 

Here’s to your greatness, 

Misti Burmeister 

P.S. On April 2nd, I took the challenge of preparing for a 20-minute talk with just a few weeks to prepare. I abandoned my old, perfectionistic, process and tried on a brand-new strategy, which was far more creative and fun. I wobbled several times during those few weeks. I didn’t know if it would work—I just knew that what I had been doing didn’t work. It was one of the best speeches of my career. Here’s to wobbling!