Do things that scare you
Your instinct is to stay where it’s safe.
But if you want to grow, you need to push yourself. You’re going to need to do some things that scare you.
I started skateboarding really late in life. I’d snowboarded for years, but I was 18 before I stepped on a plank with four wheels.
Skateboarding requires commitment. There’s no better illustration of this than dropping in on a half-pipe.
Once you’re at the top of the half-pipe, you place the tail of the board on the coping, with the nose of the board hanging over the ramp. Then, you stand on the board, with one foot on the tail, and the other sitting lightly at the front.
This is where your legs start to shake.
It’s scary as hell, because the next step is to commit: you have to force yourself to put weight on your front leg and push down hard. You kind of “scoop” into the ramp.
Your brain does not want to do this. The instinct is to keep your weight on your back leg. But if you do that you’ll never drop in. If you “half commit” and start to drop in, but then lean back, you’ll wipe out.
Dropping in is scary. It doesn’t feel safe. But when you succeed for the first time, you realize you’re in a whole new world. You’ve reached a new level: now the entire ramp, or skatepark, is at your disposal.
How did I learn to drop in?
I had a friend who pushed me to commit. Daryl didn’t let me stand at the top of the ramp forever with my legs shaking. He told me the importance of pushing down on my front leg, and keeping my weight near the front of the board.
What scares you? Is it:
- releasing your first open source project?
- publishing a personal blog post?
- putting a price on a product you’ve built?
- speaking at a local meet-up for the first time?
- being a beginner at something new?
Before we commit, the motions feel counterintuitive. Our brains are screaming at us: “Don’t do that! Stay here where it’s safe.”
But the only way to grow is by doing things that scare us.
How do we do this? Do we just pull up our bootstraps, and get it done?
Yes, that’s part of it. But the real secret is to not do it alone.
Here are the different types of people that can help propel you forward (even if it scares you):
- Community: I’m a part of this club. We log in every day to update the group on what we’re committed to accomplishing, and what we got done. When you hang out with other people that are shipping cool stuff, it makes you want to ship more too.
- Mastermind: Every week, I meet with Jarrod and Paul on a Google Hangout. These guys have no qualms about pushing me outside of my comfort zone.
- A class: Before I went to Ruby Weekend, I was scared to try programming. It seemed big, and unattainable. But over two days, those guys guided me through the basics. It felt like dropping in for the first time: once I had that first step complete, it opened up a new world.
- A mentor, a coach, a teacher: just like Daryl was able to coach me, having someone who can lead you through hard challenges is important. They can see things you can’t. They’ve been through that scary part before and have come out on the other side. Their guidance, and insistence, will keep you sharp.
Do you feel stagnant? Like you’re not moving forward?
It’s time for you to take the next step. It’s time for you to move up another wrung on the ladder. What’s the next thing you need to do to grow?
Do it. Drop in, and commit.
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