I watch this happen over and over again: a reluctance to start something significant, to get started, whether at work, leading others or just as importantly Leading Your Own Life.
In case it doesn’t work
In case it is not good enough
In case you find it harder than you expected
In case others will see what you are doing and see you failing
In case you don’t get it right first time
In case* ——insert for yourself—–
(*you can replace the words In case with What if , they are both expressions of a fear)
I said Start Something, I didn’t say Try something, but perhaps I should have. There is an impermanence about the word try, there is a lack of commitment about the word try, there is an acceptance of failure implicit in the word try which might just give you the permission you want to give it a half-hearted go. But I don’t think it helps.
Attempt does the same thing but feels more committed somehow. Attempt has within it the suggestion that attempts come in a pack.
Passed the exam at my first attempt, my third attempt, at my seventh attempt – That was my driving test 🙂
Climbed Everest AND GOT BACK DOWN again at the xxxx attempt as another example but obviously not one of my own.Too high, too cold, too pointy!
When you attempt something, in your mind you have dealt with all the in cases listed above and a few others.
I have to attempt it first to see if it will not work, and then I will learn why it doesn’t work and if there is another way.
If it is not good enough, I will have learned what I need to correct and what is good enough. I will have a better idea for next time.
If it is harder than expected I have given myself a challenge I can rise to later and have found out what other things I need to attend to.
If others see what I am doing and see me fail they may have some useful outside information about what I could do differently next time – if they were interested enough to keep watching…
If I don’t get it right first time I will have gained by the experience and next time will have more information to work with.
There is an acceptance in all these examples that it won’t be a one off thing and there are many other ways of addressing these concerns.
To just refute all the In Cases would not work. For instance to say “It doesn’t matter if it is good enough” is not a satisfactory response because it clearly does matter to the person saying it. The answers have to make a wider point. They have to respond to the worry and point out the wider benefits of attempting anything in the first place. The issue isn’t dodged, it is expanded.
All the good answers boil down to one thing, the attempt is part of the learning process. If you do not value learning. the answers will not help you. If you do not value learning at all, then being stuck will not be a mental state, it will have become a life choice.
Implicit in all the good responses is the notion that there will be several attempts , that the process of achieving your goal will need several attempts to gain the experience and information you need. You can break down each part of a project, you can start and pause and reflect. There will be failures on the way and all of them will give you useful information.
In the end there isn’t just one start but a series of restarts until you decide to stop, either because you succeeded in your original planned endeavour or because you learned what you wanted to learn and have changed course. Both results are a success on the way to something else, living a fulfilling/meaningful/ ??? life.
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