“It is better by noble boldness to run the risk of being subject to half of the evils we anticipate than to remain in cowardly listlessness for fear of what might happen.” — Herodotus (The Histories)
I chose the name of this site after deciding to chuck my need for perfection and just start. I’d been planning to set up a blog, but didn’t know what topics I wanted to cover, or what theme I wanted to use, or how to use WordPress, and on and on and on… I was scared to start, because I didn’t want to do it unless I could do it right.
The problem was “…the evils we anticipate…” and it’s a problem we all face at one time or another. When faced with change, something that feels risky, we let our fear of the unknown rule our thoughts, we become obsessed with the possibility of failure, and how that failure will destroy our lives, and that paralyzes us. That’s what happened to me.
But I told myself it would be rewarding and fun, and I shook off my fear and set up this blog. I started out with a few online journal-type posts, but only a few friends and family paid any attention, and it took a lot of work, and then my motivation flagged. I was disappointed in the lack of positive reinforcement and I stopped updating, thus ensuring that I’d attract even fewer additional readers.
I didn’t understand the irony of this until I read Seth Godin’s story “beaten by a sock puppet” in “What to do when it’s your turn”. All of my fear and disappointment was suffering of my own invention: I made it all up. I was scared to start because I feared the risk of the unknown, and the possibility of failure, but all those fears were in my own mind. And then when I worked up the nerve to get out of my comfort zone and put my work out there, I was disappointed that the positive outcome I’d anticipated (again, a product of my imagination) didn’t come true. All of my suffering before and after taking action was imaginary and self-inflicted.
The solution is simple, but not easy: you just have to put yourself into your work, without taking it personally, and without tying your happiness to the result. It will never be as bad, or as good as you imagine, so set aside your fears and expectations and just do your best work. And once it’s out there, congratulate yourself, and then turn to your next passion, and set to work on that.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/60141638@N06/8526560103″>Risks Ahead White BG</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>