Few things come out fully formed. You didn’t. I didn’t. Habits, ideas, butterflies, skills, homes, pebbles, frogs, businesses, relationships… all these things take time. In order to reach a state of “perfection,” they need time to interact with the causes and conditions of the world around them.
In fact, it can be argued that all things are in a continual state of process, a process of becoming (or a process of going). And on some very real level, we understand this.
And yet, when we think of taking on something new like selling or for that matter, belly dancing, marketing, the harmonica, social media or __________ (fill in the blank), we expect ourselves to come out fully formed – masters at a skill we’ve never been trained in or tried out.
We expect ourselves to be perfect before we’ve even taken our first step.
If you stop before you even begin, if you turn around whenever you get nervous or if you quit something because you’re afraid of “getting it wrong” then you, my dear friend, suffer from F.O.B.B.; Fear of Being a Beginner.
“I don’t know how.”
“It’ll be be too hard to learn.”
“I’ve never been good at ______.”
“I failed at _____ the last time I tried.”
These are the things we love to say to ourselves before we begin something new. And these statements? Well, they become the very blocks that we use on ourselves so we don’t have to feel the awkwardness of being a beginner.
So pause for a moment and ponder this:
Where are you holding back because you don’t want to feel the awkwardness of being a beginner? What are you keeping yourself from and what is that costing you?
As you sit with your answers and the feelings that they bring up, think of this:
A baby isn’t born knowing how to walk. A baby comes into this world as an adorable mushy blob. The muscles that make up her arms and legs, her core, her back and her neck all take time to strengthen. Her brain and her spinal column need months to develop before she can begin the incredibly intricate and complex process of learning how to sit and then stand upright and finally to move through space balanced on those fat little legs of hers.
We, as the adults in her life, understand this. We don’t rush the process. We allow it to unfold in its own time.
And when this little baby ultimately does try and take those first steps, we cheer her on. We smile and clap each time she falls on her butt. We encourage her and celebrate her as she fails her way towards mastery.
We don’t demand that she know how to walk the second she tries. We don’t shame her or punish her for not understanding the complexities of standing upright and we certainly don’t tell her to just give up and try something else because this is going to take a while (can you imagine?).
We understand that walking is a skill that takes practice and so we give her the time to get it right. We handle her with grace and space and a lightness of heart. And somehow between the combination of her tenacity and our approach, that little baby becomes a master at this incredibly complicated skill.
Now… back to you. How do you at treat yourself when you’re learning something new? My guess is you’re a little rough on yourself. Maybe even a bit of a bully.
What if when you began something new, like learning to be an evangelist for your ideas or business, you treated yourself with the same grace and space that you would give a child who is learning to walk?
As you took on a new skill like selling, how would things change if you knew you could depend on yourself for encouragement and tenacity as opposed to criticism or an immediate demand for perfectionism?
I think would change and change dramatically.
In closing, I’d like to leave you with a few tips for being an Evangelist beginner. As you read through them, see how they apply to any new skill that you might be entertaining…
I. Be willing. Be willing to be new at something. Be willing to experience that sense of clumsiness and awkwardness that is a natural part of learning a new skill.
II. Experiment. Experiment with approaches and styles. It’s only through experiments that you will find your unique selling voice.
III. Don’t try to be good. Let go of having to be good at selling right off the bat. Get in there and be messy. Out of chaos will come something that is natural and easy for you, I promise.
IV. Practice. Every time you find yourself in an opportunity to be an evangelist for your business, take on a mindset of practice. This takes you off the hook for having to be perfect. It gives you the space you need to be spontaneous and in the moment.
V. Maintain a healthy sense of detachment. Not every conversation has to turn into a sale. Whew! That’s a load off. Show up. Do your best. Aim for the result you want, but let go of it having to turn out EXACTLY as you envision.
VI. Be vigilant with your thinking. Be mindful of what you’re telling yourself. Our thoughts trigger our feelings, our feelings inspire actions and our actions create our results. A strong evangelist is one who is able to manage her thoughts so that they don’t get in her way.
Remember: fears, doubts, worries…any limiting belief…these all belong on paper not in your heart.
I love this, Johnny!
I wonder what we would say to our inner toddler when she turned on the video camera for the first time!
Sending love and thanks to you and Jane for all you share!
Linda – haha – my guess is it would be a bit of a mess and that’s not such a bad thing, right? We’d all be laughing. Maybe we could turn it into a YouTube web series?? JD
Thanks for this blog today. My takeaway is that of ‘practice’ and having the mindset of practice when I attempt something new. It really does take you ‘off the hook’. I need this. While I am not a perfectionist, my avoidance often comes from ‘not wanting to screw up and look incompetent.’
Jeanne! Thanks for your comment. That practice mindset can really shift how we experience something new. All of a sudden, we get to fumble or be messy or not get it right. All of a sudden we are connected with a playful spirit that allows us to move towards mastery. That’s a very good thing. JD
Love this! Perfect timing too! I’m going to remember this and reflect upon it the next time I find I am too hard on myself!
I love the suggestion to be vigilant! Thanks for that reminder. I would add that we are best served in our baby step moments when our vigilance doesn’t stop with our thinking (our internal realm) but when we also are vigilant with whom we engage (our external realm).
In my experience, when we step up and out alone as entrepreneurs, we are at risk for being in a pool of people who are not as informed, aware or vigilant with us as we take those first few steps as we as a society tend to be with babies. That’s why being with the right group of people – coaches, mentors, and like-minded fellow travelers – is sooooo important.
Karin, I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for this open and transparent share! 😉
To embrace all that 2017 has in store, I am revisiting this as a reminder to stay vigilant in the center; yet, allow myself to detach from immediate results. This is all about planting seeds for growth! Thanks!