To Succeed, Do It Badly at First

I’ve had a number of conversations with my clients recently that sound kind of like this:

Me: So how are your development meetings with your employees going?

Client: Um, yeah, I’m kinda not doing those.

Me: Okay, why not?

Client: Well, I just don’t feel like I know how to do it yet.

Me: What’s one question you could use to start?

Client: Um, you’re always saying, “What do you want to change in yourself, and how are you using your job to change it?”

Me: Yup, that’s a good question to use. How about that?

Client: But what happens after that?

Me: You don’t get to know that.

Client: Argghhhh! But that’s so uncomfortable!

Me: Yup, and water is wet, and air invisible. That’s just how it is. I’ve been asking questions like that for sixteen years, and I still don’t get to know what will happen. It’s never not scary for me when I coach. I never really feel like I know what I’m doing. So let’s talk about what this is really about: your fear of the unknown.

Every day I see people who are waiting and suffering and waiting and suffering and waiting and suffering. They tell themselves things like, “I don’t know what do do” or “I’m not skilled enough.” But with just a little bit of inquiry, it’s easy to find this isn’t true. They know enough. They’re good enough.

Consider for a moment what things you are able to do for the first time with complete proficiency. Ride a bike? No way. Use chopsticks? Hardly. Eating? Not even that? As babies, we work our way up to solid food. We even need to be burped at first, because we don’t know how not to swallow air. We start out clumsy at just about everything. Everything.

So where on earth have we gotten this idea that we should NOT be clumsy with a new thing?

As we age and gain skills, our solidified identities enjoy the comfort of ease. My ego relishes my advanced skill with chopsticks and my ability to order items not on the menu at a sushi place (the latter never fails to impress people).

But I after I moved to the other side of Maui, I noticed I avoided swimming at a nearby beach for months. Instead I was driving an extra 20 minutes to a familiar beach with calmer waves. I finally decided to brave the larger waves and higher winds, and though my first experience there was a clumsy failure, I figured out how to swim there safely. Now it’s my go-to spot.

“Why did I wait so long?” we ask ourselves, after mustering the courage to do something new and realizing it wasn’t that bad. We were waiting for the discomfort to go away, which it never really does. (Click to Tweet)

Life is waiting for you to do something uncomfortable—something you’ll do badly at first. But embrace it, because it will undoubtedly take you to your next level.

What discomfort are you avoiding? And what would happen if you tried it today?

Do you feel like you need some accountability to nudge you toward what you’re avoiding? Clear and Open Members get direct feedback from me and their peers about what challenges they can embrace to create breakthroughs in excellence. Now is a great time to join, as the next live course, The Art of Self-Management begins September 6.

If you’ve been thinking about joining, maybe this is a time to ask that question, “What am I waiting for?”

Is it your experience that challenges get easier when you wait?

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