“The most effective way to do it is to do it.” Amelia Earhart
We all have had times when we were so afraid of the possibility of failure, that it stifled us from even taking a chance to try… failing before we start. This could lead to taking an “easier road” or even to regret not having taken a chance on what gives you true joy. Imagine being let down so great that it leads you down a different life path or creates a phobia in your life, leading to avoidance of something that initially gave you joy.
Most of the times this obstacle is not an external blockade — it is you. We are capable of sabotaging our dreams even before we can stumble. Think of anything that you desire to do — anything — and it could be possible with persistence and accepting that mistakes — let’s call them “stepping stones” — are a form of growth not a reason to give up. They are outcomes that allow you to navigate more precisely toward your goal.
As a father of three children, I got to witness my children learn how to walk. The process didn’t just occur in an instant. There was natural development of the muscle tone and an increase in coordination. The child strengthened themselves further by rolling over, standing up and then coasting. As a child goes through this process, they will invariable fall many times. Maybe it will occur at first after standing up, afterwards with coasting, then later with something in their hands. Each and every fall prepared them to walk. Each and every step became a fall in one direction that they were able to balance and take the next step forward.
Ultimately, we are both blessed and burdened by reaching out and trying to experience this life — the only one that we have to live. There will be “failure”. There will be “rejection”. There will be someone who is better at a certain skill. What are these experiences but mere interactions, or checks, on your growth. How we handle these is the cornerstone of how we can grow and learn.
I remember when I made my first attempt in giving health and wellness talks last summer. I reserved a two hour time slot at my local library — two weeks in advance. I hung up four signs — one in the library and three in local supermarkets nearby. I prepared my talk and practiced it several times. The day came and I arrived to the library 30 minutes early and prepared the tables and the snacks and drinks.
The time arrived… no one showed up. Well, maybe they were late because of traffic. I waited longer. After about 10 minutes, I walked in the hallway and welcoming people coming into the library to join me in my health talk. Still no one showed up.
Was that a “failure” or a “stepping stone”?
Well — I waited until January to re-emerge but I could have tried again the next month… Instead of saying in my head, that “This must mean that I am failure and that I should just stick to being a doctor — seeing and consulting one patient at a time”, I asked myself “what are ways that could improve attendance”.
Sure I reserved a room — but only 2 weeks in advance… I only hung up 4 signs. I didn’t use other methods of getting out the information, such as social media. I didn’t get around to various clinics or other settings to get my information out. I got a chance to really explore the reasons that I did not do this and was able to brainstorm other ideas. In part, I realized that I sabotaged my own plan — perhaps out of fear of rejection, fear of public speaking — also the very thing that I like to do — perhaps even a fear of success … to add to my other fears.
A few months went by… I registered my company Your Health Forum, started this blog and signed it up with facebook, meetup and instagram. I tried another iteration … and I got an audience — approximately 14 people showed up. I set out to do this monthly … and for the most part similar sized groups came. Each of these talks was well received and I thought — what next? Then it happened again. Another free seminar was scheduled on the main social media platforms … no one signed up.
Another failure or another opportunity to figure out how to direct it the way that I would like it? And so on….
If I had never taken a chance after the initial no-show, would I have ever been able to meet those attendees and gain so much out of it myself, even as the speaker?
Our lives are the great unknown. We can ride the wave – in some ways being taken and in many ways controlling where we are going. Sometimes opportunities come differently than expected – even in the form of failures. Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, had made over 1,000 attempts before he invented a stable light bulb. When asked by a reporter, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times,” his response was “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
After reading this, if you struggle as I do on the journey to your self-discovery, close your eyes and think hard about what gave you the greatest joy as a child. It may be just a general idea or feeling — not necessarily a decided career path. It may be the way you feel when you did an activity – that warm, tingly feeling of longing that you get when you think about your destiny…
I look toward nature for examples when I think about destiny… it is how a tree grows out and stretches toward the sun… it is how water droplets move effortlessly in concert down a river… it is how a finch collects grass samples and constructs a nest in my hanging flower pot, lays four eggs and then cares for its four hatchlings…
When we are tapped into our true self, we are just like these forces in nature – freely flowing, free of shame and able to be our true selves. We are able to think the unthinkable, to infuse our lives with creativity, to share with others in this joy, and reach past our dreams, making them even better.
What is it that brings the greatest joy that a person can have? Maybe it is to live in the state of active living, building bridges to others, being an example… not looking back in the past with regret or past hang-ups or ahead in the future anxiously… neither are real after all. The past is lived but the reality is really just a perception through your senses of your perspective … yes, even your reality is a perception – that requires our brain to process… imagine how we can get fooled by optical illusions and take it to every level of our brain’s processing.
The most effective way to do something is to do it, right? If you want to be a writer, you have to write. If you want to be a musician, start playing music. I fumbled through that one too once — it took me about 10 years from wanting to play guitar to actually getting one — and playing it. Now 20 years later, it has been one of the greatest gifts that I have given myself… it has opened my heart to discovering my true spirit.
Whatever it is that you find joy in, DO IT!!!!
Here are a few suggestions:
- Think about how your life has brought you to the person you are now — what are the things that motivate you, where does your passion lie? Acknowledge the past experiences that have led you to set barriers in your life. Think about what some goals could be and write them down – both long and short-term.
- Think about how your inside voice guides you to making a decision — or leads to indecision, procrastination or staying safe from failure — and FREE that SHAME. Most of the times, a mistake, failure or letdown is a lot less than you might think it could be — and anyways, it can help you to grow further.
- Write down three to five skills that you could develop to take you closer to that goal.
- Get started being your true self.
A few helpful references for reaching your fullest potential:
An Intelligent Life. Buddhist Psychology of Self-Transformation. Koitsu Yokoyama
Buddha’s Brain. Rick Hanson, PhD with Richard Mendius, MD
The 15 invaluable Laws of Growth. John C. Maxwell.
The Power of Now. Eckhart Tolle