I talked to someone this morning about starting a new practice and we agreed few people like being a beginner – we prefer to start out with poise and expertise. We rarely enjoy looking foolish, clumsy, inept, it’s an embarrassing and can even be a shameful experience. And yet, there is something remarkably important about a willingness to experiment in these murky waters.

If we want to move from the ease of every day familiarity to something greater – perhaps a different career, risking new behaviour, being bolder, having the hard conversations – a foundational practice of willingness to risk is enormously valuable. Let me give you a concrete example – over the years I’ve worked with a significant number of people wanting to leave the golden
handcuffs of a career they no longer enjoy to pursue something which makes their heart sing. In supporting their enthusiasm, I also know they have new skills to learn, others to enhance, and having the chutzpah to fulfil is likely more challenging than they are wiling to admit amidst their enthusiasm. Do they have the wherewithal to actually compose the copy for the website,
network their socks off to generate opportunities, be willing to live more frugally while things grow? How often do they stretch beyond their comfort zone?

We’re in the realm of resilience here. And one way to build that is to learn something new, with all its trials and tribulations. I remember my first pilates class many years ago, how awkward, clumsy and foolish I felt. How much I compared myself to the other long-termers (however ridiculous that was), wanting oh so wanting to be graceful and competent. I had to constantly
remind myself that it takes 300 repetitions to get something in to muscle memory, 3,000 for embodiment (and 10,000 for mastery but let’s not get ahead of ourselves!)

The willingness to look and feel awkward paves the way for boldness in places we would otherwise avoid – dance, martial arts, drawing, creative endeavours with observable output – what activity is it for you? For me it includes creative writing. How many times have I heard my fellow writing group preface their reading out aloud with “I don’t much like this, it’s not my best work, compared to yours….” (whether thought or said aloud, it’s clearly underneath). I have a deliberate practice of avoiding such an introduction, it’s a tiny risk in the bold department, but it creates a foundation for bigger ventures, builds momentum, creating satisfaction and courage. It doesn’t need to be extreme, small steps like these are good enough.

What will yours be? And if you’d like some support, do reach out.

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