It has been a long time since I tried something new. I’m not just talking about the new deli filling at the sandwich shop but really trying a completely new activity, with no experience at all, going in totally blind. Last month I took the plunge and after a long time procrastinating, and a long drive through France to get there I went skiing. Now for many of you this is no big deal but I am an adult who had never even seen a ski in the flesh or put my foot anywhere near a ski boot, but I really wanted to learn how to ski, I have done since I was a child.
As I strapped my feet into the unforgiving boots and manoeuvred myself over to the nursery slope my heart was in my mouth, my breathing quickened and my ears rang, the adrenaline was pumping hard. I was certain that I was going to misjudge a curve and shoot off the side of the mountain breaking my legs and ruining the experience for everyone. I know that I am not good when I feel that I’m not in control of myself! Lean down the mountain? I thought they were mad, every bone in my body was telling me not to.
My ski instructor was a burly French lady with a quick wit who saw through my smiling, singing façade. She took control and through her strength I developed my own. I fell a lot, and each evening I counted new bruises. With each passing day I became braver and on the last day I joined my friends (all avid and utterly brilliant skiers) and skied down the mountain without the support of the instructor.
I know that I am still no Chemmy Alcott but I have overcome the barriers that I erected for myself. I truly believe that this would not have been possible if I had not trusted my instructor when she told me “you will ski!”. I trusted my guide, believed in myself and stepped out of my comfort zone.
I am fascinated by how we resist change, we’re mostly afraid and rarely push our boundaries. Adam Phillips a British Psychoanalyst and Philosopher noted that ,“we think we know more about the experiences that we don’t have, than the experiences we do. The unlived life becomes more significant and what’s not possible becomes the story of our lives”. Its true, isn’t it? We know all about the consequences, the possible pitfalls, and the reasons why we shouldn’t try something; why we shouldn’t make that jump; shouldn’t lean down the mountain. It goes against all we ‘know’ to be true.
That’s great, we’re all nervous of change but to grow and develop as people we have to make changes, take the next step. How do we go from knowing ‘what’s not possible ‘to ‘having a go’? What does it take?
Grit! It’s all about having determination and pushing yourself to grow. Writers on the subject suggest that some people naturally have more grit than others and while that is undoubtedly true, grit is also something that you can learn, cultivate and grow, by changing your mindset, trying new things, being determined and not being afraid to fail and to try again. Some of the most successful people, such as Richard Branson, Albert Einstein and Marc Zuckerberg all failed. The failing wasn’t their undoing, it spurred them on to try again and ultimately guaranteed their eventual success. If you’ve got some time on your hands a worthwhile read on the success of failing comes from Jia Jiang in his book “Rejection Proof”. Jia, upon quitting his job to become an entrepreneur and failing, set about to devote 6 months to getting rejected every single day. He made unreasonable requests from everyone, even asking to see the CEO of a company in order to have a staring competition with her, amazingly she agreed to see him! Jiang noticed that the more he asked for things the better he became at communicating and negotiating. Needless to say he know commands large audiences as a TED talks speaker and has realised his dream of being a successful entrepreneur.
So, come on, let’s go, let’s lean down the mountain, take the chance, make that step outside our comfort zone, and ask the question. We may fail, we may be rejected but we will always learn, as Jiang did, and will improve and before we know it we’ll get there!
I’m off now, once more to push my boundaries. So, I invite you all to share, comment and send this to all of your connections to help me on my grit growing journey – Hey, if you don’t ask…
Good luck, be brave, show grit and determination, and please do post a comment and keep me posted of your progress too! Thank you for reading. Natalie