Step out of your Velvet Rut

Last week’s message about being in a Velvet Rut hit home for a number of readers. Thanks for your feedback! We all know how comfy it can be, but even velvet gets worn and fades at some point.

The potential payoffs are plenty. Stepping out of a velvet rut raises your awareness of your capabilities. It tests you. You get to trust that you can change, climb, start. And experience the joys and challenges that come with it.

I promised to tell you about leaders who climbed out and what it’s done for them. Here are three.

Andrea wanted to work in a bigger city. The dream was ever present, gnawed at her. But family and friends didn’t want her to go. When she finally found an ideal opportunity, she researched, interviewed, flew to meet the team, and trusted her instincts. When the offer came, she accepted. Now she’s happier than she’s been in years. Loves her new job, new home, new life. It’s been a major adjustment, she misses family and friends, but has no regrets. She’s loving the adventure, the newness, the challenge of being completely on her own. She’s growing in ways she never would have in her velvet rut. She’s glad she climbed out.

Matty experienced heart-wrenching years with her husband’s battle with cancer. Throughout, she maintained her management role and upped her caregiving at home. She was grateful for her velvet rut at work. The consistency and challenges were a welcomed distraction. A year after he passed, she was offered a role in an area completely new to her. Reluctantly, she stepped out of her velvet rut. The new challenge, new team, new goals to conquer, have brought a renewed energy Matty hasn’t felt in years. She’s glad she accepted the challenge. So is her team and her family.

Carl was rocking along as a leader, doing well, committed to his work and meeting his goals. Then surprising 360 feedback knocked him back. His team wanted more open and frequent communication, they wanted to know his vision, wanted him to delegate more. He held a lot close, didn’t want to overload them. But they wanted to grow. He beat himself up over it, a lot. Then, with reflection and candid, exploratory conversations, he chose to view it as an opportunity. A gift, actually. Because leaders grow by developing their people. Carl learned to stop fearing it, and he’s a better leader now. He’s more open with his team about their growth, delegating and trusting more, and they’re more creative and committed. He’s glad he shifted his view.

A velvet rut may feel right for a time, but at some point you have to stick your head out to see (or visualize) what’s possible so you can start the climb. Because a brighter future is beyond the rut.

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