No More U-Word

Did you know that “um” is actually a word in the dictionary? It is defined as, “… expressing hesitation or a pause in speech, a natural utterance first recorded in English in the early 17th century.” Wow! That word’s been around for a while. But it’s an automatic response I use when someone asks me to do something outside my comfort zone, and I’m struggling to find a really good excuse to get out of doing it.

For many years, I’ve been an UM-ing kind of person. There have been ums in my marriage, ums on the job, ums in my musical relationships … expressions of doubt, hesitation, and deliberation. I have found that when people respond with the U-word back to you, they’re telling you that they’re not confident with where they’re at and where you want them to go.

Does the U-word ever show up in your conversation? If yes, when? Is it when someone asks you to show them something on the dulcimer? Is it when your turn to start a tune at the jam session comes around? What about if someone asks you to play by yourself for a few friends? Even worse, what if you were asked to play an entire concert? Could you do it? Or would you say, “Um … “ and follow that with a pretty valid-sounding excuse?

With my retirement, I’m turning over a new leaf. I’m going to stop using the U-word. When I’m asked to do something outside my comfort zone, instead of making up excuses, I’m going to be honest and say "No, thanks," or admit that I’m uncomfortable with it but I might be willing to give it a try. If I’m at ground zero with confidence for the request, I can always step into the learning zone instead and figure out how to do it, and do it successfully.

Does this sound like you? Have you ever used the U-word when someone asked you to do something that might be outside your comfort zone? I have a suggestions. Make an “Uncomfortable List.” For me, that might include taking the bike instead of the golf cart to visit neighbors, going to the doctor to double-check that problem, starting up a conversation with a stranger, or sharing my music more frequently.  I’m more of a shy “behind the scenes” person (that's why these newsletters work so well for me), so a couple of these suggestions could be an introvert’s nightmare.  Regardless of how uncomfortable it makes you, start doing some of the things you listed on your "uncomfortable list."

Growing out of your comfort zone and abandoning the U-word will lead you into brand new experiences and update your toolbox with skills to build on as you advance in your growth zone.

Happy dulcimering,



There are no comments yet. Be the first one to leave a comment!