I’m normally a nice person. But purposely try to run me over in traffic, and I can turn into a verbally abusive not-so-nice person, or so it seems.

Recently (and without hesitation, I might add), I shouted at a young driver who nearly cut my life short – ‘you ar#ehole!’. He quickly averted his gaze while looking decidedly ashamed of himself.

Now, as a usually well-mannered woman (and mindfulness practitioner to boot, who considers kindness her #1 attribute), I don’t think anybody was more shocked than I was when those words flew out of my mouth.

And while part of me is not terribly proud of my behaviour, another part kind of is!

You see, I’ve spent a lifetime being ‘nice’ when what I really needed to be was assertive. And old habits die hard.

I may well grimace at the memory of my recent behaviour, but I also feel a tiny bit proud. Like I’ve taken a step in the right direction.

If you’re practicing being more assertive (when you’re normally a walkover like me), you might go overboard from time to time and become a bit too aggressive. It’s like you over-commit, you over-balance.

Trying on any new behaviour challenges us. We’re literally designed to revert to our old patterns because it feels more comfortable in the moment. But in the long term it creates a monster. You know what I mean.

The important thing is not to give up. You try, you fail…

Just keep going, and one day you’ll find a happy medium, a place of balance, where your behaviour aligns with your highest standard for yourself, and that makes you feel very good indeed.

Obviously, I’m not quite there yet…but overstepping is common as people begin to stretch themselves.

When facilitating The Mindful Leader: Vertical Growth program I see this happen a lot. Leaders courageous enough to have a go at stepping up – perhaps holding others accountable, or giving honest feedback – often fall short.

When that happens, I remind them – we’re not going for perfection – we’re going for progress.

Sometimes progress looks more like under-committing or overshooting the mark.

In my case, it’s not my intention to call people bad names. I want to grow as a person and become more assertive.

I use this story in sessions to remind people that we’re all a work in progress…and none of us is ‘there’ yet.