We spoke to Dr Kay Bretz, corporate leader, elite athlete and author of Turning Right: Inspire the Magic as he shares why we should embrace uncertainty and “turn right”.
I had always considered myself as adventurous but one day, I realised how wrong I had been in my self-assessment. It was the day when I accidentally turned right at my garden gate. I realised that I had never turned right at that junction.
It was much more than a mere choice of direction. It was how I was leading my life – on autopilot and playing small. There was an entire world out there I had cut myself off from, neither curious nor willing to explore it.
Turn right to interrupt engrained behaviour
Whenever we keep doing what you’ve always been doing, the results will remain similar, if not even the same. For step-changes to happen, we need to turn right – metaphorically speaking. After that ‘incident’ at my garden gate, I started experimenting what would happen if I embraced uncertainty and walked paths that I had not dared to walk previously.
I started a journey of entering unchartered territory. Much more importantly, I started interrupting deeply engrained behaviour. Instead of overthinking whether a new approach would make a difference, I gave ideas a try and quickly experienced where the new path took me. To my surprise, I encountered one peak experience after the next as a result.
First, I left behind the familiar world of running marathons and found myself breaking the race record of a 250-kilometre race by more than five hours. Later, I traded in the label of being a ‘hobby runner’ to becoming the fastest-ever Australian at the 24-hour world championships in 2019.
On this journey I learned the following lessons which hopefully help you giving right turns a try:
Lesson #1: We are capable of the impossible
I realised that each one of us is much more capable than we dare to believe. You don’t have to be a runner to turn right. You can challenge and extend your limits in any area of life. Whether at work or in our private life, we can all experience that we are capable of what we think is impossible. You just have to switch off your autopilot.
My autopilot was exerting unnecessary control which prevented innovation. For others, it might be a regularly withdrawing themselves or the urge to constantly please others which could impact their authenticity or speaking their truth. Whatever the nature of our autopilot might be, it will always keep us small and prevent us from unfolding our full potential.
Lesson #2: The path to magic is accepting vulnerability
Turning right requires courage. When we try new paths, there are no guarantees. Feeling vulnerable and exposed is a scary position to be in. But ask yourself: ‘What would I do if I was not afraid?’ I invite you to not blindly accept the constraints you set on your own life. In my experience, it is new paths that lead to fulfilment and magical results.
Lesson #3: Don’t overthink it
We best cross the threshold into the unknown quickly. Overthinking is the biggest enemy to creativity and innovation. Our minds tend to overestimate the risks we are facing. We might feel that when we don’t change, we are safe. But are we really? When you notice that you are at a junction in your life, why not explore the path less travelled? Find out where it leads to and, from my own experience, the upside typically outweighs the risks.
Navigate the path ahead
Therefore, I encourage you to slow down when you come to well-familiar junctions in your life. Create that space which allows you to challenge and override your autopilot and, once in a while, choose a new direction. There is nothing wrong with starting small and experimenting within an area that feels relatively safe. That’s what I did. First, I explored turning right in my hobby which was running. After a few years of practice, I took the much scarier step: Last year I left a safe corporate job and followed my dream to set up my own business helping leaders and businesses thrive. It’s one of the most rewarding choices I’ve made. Turning right has the potential to lead us down a very different route to success.