Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Stop Planning - Start Doing

Have you ever hesitated to apply for a job because you thought you weren't good enough? "I'll study a bit more", you'd tell yourself. "I'll have to acquire more experience. Right now, I'm not ready." Or maybe you've been thinking about starting a new business, making it on your own. You're so tired of having a boss, of not being able to make your own decisions. Or have you found yourself dreaming that you could be a painter, a traveler or an actor. How marvelous it would be to do something you like for a living. But you never had the guts to give it a go, because you thought you weren't good enough.

Well, you were so wrong. If other people can do it, so can you. "Yes, but they know what they're doing", you might say. No, they don't. Most of them just took a chance and did their best. Because this is how things are done. If you wait around until you're ready, someone else will take your place. Not to mention you'll never do anything, because you're never ready. That's why you're stuck with a job that doesn't satisfy you anymore: because you're afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

Being afraid of the unknown is natural. It's what kept our species going. Running away from a savage animal or a strange tribe member is a self preserving instinct. But we don't live in tribes anymore. While a new job or a stressful situation might be a little unpleasant, it is surely not life-threatening. You have to understand and accept your fear, but don't submit to it. The reason why human beings have evolved so much is because they pushed themselves in spite of their fears. That's what you should do too, if you don't want to spend the rest of your life stuck in the same place.

One of the self sabotaging mechanisms we all use is the "lack of preparation" excuse. But no-one is a hundred percent prepared. You've done enough learning, studying and preparing. You know everything you need to know. No amount of courses, exams and diplomas will prepare you for what's to come. Learning is inaction. You are fooling yourself that you are taking steps towards your goal, but what you're really doing is keeping yourself stuck in the early stages. A surgeon who only operates on a computer is not a surgeon. An actor who knows all the lines by heart but never steps onto a stage is not an actor. You have to really be there, in the middle of it all, if you want to learn something. Because learning is done on the job. The only way up is to act.

Are you afraid to make mistakes? We all are. And we all make them. Are you afraid to make a fool out of yourself? We all do. That's how we learn. And that is how we become exceptional.

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