As the Northern Hemisphere advances steadily into lengthening nights...
I write this from a place nicknamed "The City of Eternal Spring" due to its year-round pleasant climate at an altitude of roughly 5,000 feet...
And, considering "springtime" as a metaphor for awakening, growth, expansion, freshness, and the future fruits of new beginnings...
The idea of eternal springtime has me reflecting on the act of beginning, and why it's so hard to keep trying new things as we get older.
When we are young, beginnings are fun and exciting and full of unknown promise.
But once we reach a certain age, and had a taste of mastery over certain areas of life...
Being a "beginner" starts to acquire a negative connotation: of NO expertise, NO skill, NO finesse or competitive advantage.
Imagine a seasoned skier, expertly carving up the slopes on a mogul-studded double-black diamond.
What mastery! What grace!
Now take that same expert skier, strap her to a snowboard for the first time, and plop her on the bunny hill.
Imagine her friends and colleagues watching as she inches along, flailing her arms to stay balanced, catching an edge, and landing hard on her tailbone.
The truth is that beginnings are painful.
I'm thinking of the morning I got onto my fully loaded bicycle for the first time (after telling everyone I was going to cycle all the way to South America) and thought "oh shit!" before crashing *stupendously* to the ground.
I'm considering the prospect of conducting my Storytelling for Career Transition workshop (which I've run so many times I could do it with my eyes closed) in Spanish, for an entirely different audience, and hoping against hope that I won't have to endure the indignity of being blank-stared out of the auditorium.
Yes, the older we get, the more the prospect of beginning conjures up the prospect of humiliation and suffering for the ego.
So, to protect our egos from the pain of not being good at something, we learn to avoid situations that require beginning.
We unconsciously stop ourselves from learning new things -- even as we talk about how much we want to learn them!
Thus, we keep ourselves small and contained within the comfort of what feels safe.
Over time, this prevents us from becoming the fully realized individuals we can otherwise become.
And -- by the way -- the same thing is true in business.
Fearing failure or ridicule, we learn to stop taking risks, to perpetuate the status quo, and to be satisfied with doing things the way they've always been done...
... Which is a surefire recipe for organizational stagnation and decay.
"What's ONE thing you are constantly telling your employees?" I ask a CEO client the other day.
"Oh god," he laughs in exasperation, "don't be so CAUTIOUS! Please, experiment, take risks, try new things, don't be so afraid to fail. We're never going to be the company we want to be if people aren't willing to do that."
Whether on an individual level or an organizational one...
Your ability to create the life you want is directly related to how willing you are to surrender, again and again, to the humbling experience of beginning.
In fact, the most engaging and successful people I know are constantly on the lookout for new ways to humiliate themselves by daring to try something new.
These people know that the real question is not "but what if I suck at it?"
(A: you will, and it will be ok.)
The more interesting question is: What new worlds might open up to you, as a result of beginning?
Your turn: Think of one new skill or ability you've "always wanted" to learn.
Now, ask yourself:
What will it mean to you, to have acquired this skill?
How will you feel different as a result of learning it?
How will "your story" shift or expand because of it?
Where will you use this skill in your life, and what will the immediate impact be?
How might this impact create bigger shifts in your relationships?
How might it create bigger shifts in your career or business?
How might it create bigger shifts in your financial abundance?
... And how will your experience of life be different, as a result of these shifts?
Bottom line: Beginning is hard, AND it's the key to living a life that feels eternally full of promise.
Whatever you do, I hope you never surrender your right to the promise of eternal springtime; the beckoning of a new season, of future growth and harvest, of perpetual transformation.