You’ve heard the saying, “There’s a first time for everything.” It’s true. What’s also true is we are often terrified of that first time. It’s impossible to really prepare for the first time you do anything! First job, first bike ride, first baby…we can’t know how any of these things will turn out before we try them.
As children some of us had no fear of doing something we did not know how to do. Maybe because as children, we didn’t know how to do anything! We had no choice but to proceed, without preparation!
As we grow older, we may lose the courage to try. Some of us even lose the courage to DREAM of trying something new. Very often in a coaching session with a client I ask, “What would you do if you could do anything, if time and money were no object and you were guaranteed support and success?”
You wouldn’t believe how often people are stumped. “I would pay off my debt,” some of them say. Well that’s a start, but if ANYTHING is possible, wouldn’t you like to take it a little further? Often people refer back to some time in the past… describing what they DON’T want to do rather than what they DO want to do. Why?
Growing up usually means learning to be prepared. Predict an outcome and plan for it. Know what to expect. Being caught unawares may result in shame. It is a double bind! If we choose to only do what we are prepared to do, we will only do what we have done before. You know the saying about always doing what you have done before and expecting different results? Some say this is the definition of insanity.
In a nutshell, if we want different outcomes, we need to do new things. To do new things we must face unpreparedness. Our friend Cindy Cashman really knows how to dream big. Most women plan their wedding and think of the flowers, the dress, etc. Not Cindy. She thought of the spaceship. Yes, she and her hubby were the first couple to get married in outer space! Now that’s dreaming big!
Rollercoasters are another example. A rollercoaster is fun because it surprises. You don’t know when the next turn, dip or twist is coming. It’s unexpected! And exciting in its unexpectedness!
Over the holiday my sons, nephews and I went to Sea World. We went on a rollercoaster ride called the Manta. Our wait to get on the ride was long. We had plenty of time to watch the track, watch the people, and assess the speed of the turns and when the turns happen. We thought we were prepared.
However, as soon as we got on the ride, we were COMPLETELY surprised from beginning to end! First we were surprised that the ride did not take off like a rocket when we first got on. It gently rocked us back and forth while projecting images of tranquil sea life on a screen. Then, the car launched like a catapult out of the starting gate and twisted, turned, and dipped. We screamed our heads off with delight.
Seth Godin has this to say about surprise, “We’ve been so terrified into the importance of preparation, it’s spilled over into that other realm, the realm of life where we have no choice but to be unprepared. If you demand that everything that happens be something you are adequately prepared for, I wonder if you’ve chosen never to leap in ways that we need you to leap. Once we embrace this chasm, then for the things for which we can never be prepared, we are of course, always prepared.”
Creating a dynamic career or business means to encounter many moments in life that are impossible to prepare for. In fact, every great product or service started with a test pilot or prototype. Everything from great TV shows, to laptop computers and even pants for women started out as an experiment. By definition, an experiment is when the outcome is UNKNOWN.
Our fear that we are not prepared for what will happen next may prevent many wonderful things from happening. Even with something like having risky conversations that may lead to a new intimacy or a great sale, we may be unwilling to create the conditions for that conversation to happen because we cannot predict the outcome. Maybe we wish we could control conversations… write a script and demand the other person stick to it. (but that is soooo controlling!) Since we cannot predict the outcome, it is too scary for many of us to embark on a path or take a step that we don’t know where it leads. So sad!
So many wonderful conversations, partnerships, and amazing outcomes come just from the asking. I am lucky in that I was taught you can always ask. As a young girl, mom would say, “If you try, you might like it. If you don’t try you might miss out on something you like.” And, “If you ask for it, you might get it. If you don’t ask, you won’t get anything!” I learned to try. I learned to ask. Lucky for me!
You can be lucky too! But you must start by taking risks. Try. Take Deborah as an example. Just a few short years ago, her main goal was to expand her estate sales business, Amber Ostrich. She did that, but along the way discovered something new. Deborah LOVES Italy…and all things Italian.
Deborah recontacted me about 18 months ago, asking for help to launch new busines projects which would bring her back to Italy and allow her to share her passion with her friends. Now after conducting about half a dozen Italian themed projects, both here and in Siena, (follow her blog Italy Unfiltered here) she is packing her bags. Yes, Deborah has secured a six month work Visa ! We will toast her this Friday and send her off to her love…Italy!…and of course her adorable Italian boyfriend, and future collaborator, Massimiliano Mori. Augeri Deborah!