There have oh so many times in my life when I have come to a point where big change were breathing down my neck, stalking me, wanting me to decide, wanting me to take action, and I was ducking around corners, stalling, hiding out, turning my back, putting my fingers in my ears. . .lalala, I don’t hear you. . .
But I did hear. I did know. I was scared to death. I don’t know how! What if I am making the wrong decision? What will people think of me? What if I change my mind? What if I can’t do it?
- Running away from home to put myself through college.
- Finishing my dissertation for my Ph.D. in Clinical Community Psychology
- Getting married.
- Starting a medical records software company.
- Doing a 1.5 million dollar real estate development project.
- Getting divorced.
- Learning to dance Zydeco.
- Getting remarried to someone much older.
- Learning to dance Tango.
- Starting a B and B in our big loft after the kids left home.
- Starting New Tricks to help entrepreneurs develop an online presence.
I have to say, at each juncture, I saw the next step. I may have even “decided” to do it. (Three frogs sitting on a log. One jumps in. How many frogs sitting on a log? Three. Deciding isn’t acting.) I have gotten under the covers and sobbed, wracked with guilt, fear and crazy thinking. The voice saying all the time, “you have to do this”. “You know you do”. “You want what you will have after you take the steps to get started”. “The doing it will be uncomfortable, but you will get through it”. “It will either work or it won’t but you know it is right for right now”.
And I answering back, “But I don’t want to”. “It is too hard”. “Maybe I am making a huge mistake”. “I can’t stand it.” But I did “stand it”. I really had no other choice.
Last night, I was out with a friend who has been in marketing for years. In 2009, she, like so many others in the recession, was let go from her job. She had been the marketing director of a nonprofit. She is smart and savvy and has everything all set to get her own business set up. My god, she even has a few clients. But right now she is stuck. Can’t get her website finished. She could whip one up in a week for someone else. But she has been obsessing over hers and is second guessing herself. Maybe I should focus on this, maybe use that tone. What if people think I am being too arrogant? What if it is not professional?
It is so easy for me to see, from the other side of the table, while sipping on my dirty martini, safe on the other side of that place of fear and indecision, It is easy for me to see that the place she wants to be is just right outside her grasp. But, I know, because I too have seen this, that what she sees is a wall of fire, which looks as if it goes on forever. How can I possibly go forward? It is so uncomfortable to contemplate going through there all alone, it feels overwhelming and it feels like it will always be that way.
But from over here, I can see the other side and I know it is good and it is within her reach, if she will only start putting one foot in front of the other and go into the fire, instead of reading one more book, doing an internship or yet another training. Gulp. It is so hard to take that step, that leap of faith, that fake it ’til you make it, that living through the rawness. But is is always so worth it because we do know what is right and what we need. And I hate, hate being a beginner. Once I take the step, I will do whatever it takes to get through that shitty ass period of being a newbie, before I get my feet on the ground, before I am in the in crowd before I gain the knowledge, experience and confidence that can only come by doing that fearful thing. But those first steps are truly the hardest.
Years ago I did a ropes course in the Mountains of upstate NewYork. It came time to cross a sixty foot wide and very deep ravine on a zipline. Oh God. I was scared to death. When I got harnessed in and set out, I was surprised, “Hey this is easy and kind of fun!” The thing was I was going along fairly fast, but then I reached the middle. I came to a total stop. You see, the first half you are going with gravity because your body weight pulls you down but then you are going uphill and it was impossible. I started to cry and thought the buzzards were just going to have to eat the meat off my bones because I could see no way to keep going. Then I heard them. There were lots of people on the other side, cheering for me to get across. I put one fist in front of the other and slowly pulled myself six inches at a time. They were getting louder and louder, I knew I could do it, and then I was across . I made it to the other side.
Where are you stuck and what is your next right step? Can you hear us cheering?