At any rate, at one point in the conversation, as I was describing some of my extra-curricular creative/business ventures, she looked at me with eyebrows raised and said, “Wow, that’s really impressive.”
Not really, I thought to myself. I write a blog that gets less than 500 hits a day. I help make videos that, if you remove a few outliers, only receive a few thousand views each, which is not much in the YouTube world. And my book has sold less than 200 copies in it’s first three months on the market. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely proud of the work I do, and even more grateful for the audience I have (you guys rock!) but I certainly wouldn’t call what I do impressive. Anybody could do it.
“No, it is impressive,” she continued, obviously reading the bashful look on my face, “you’re like, actually doing it.”
She went on to tell me about her countless conversations with friends, all who had ideas and wanted to start things, but they never actually sat down and did it. They’re too busy or too poor, which really just means too afraid.
How does one find the courage to start? Many of us have ideas, but for some reason, we can never seem to get those ideas going. For most of us, the gap between inspiration and implementation continually proves too wide to traverse.
It may be surprising to hear this, but just because I start a lot of things does not mean that I’m immune to the fear that comes with starting. I have started more things than I can count, and I’ve watched the majority of them fail.
As a child, I probably started over thirty novels on our home computer. I never made it past chapter five on any of them.
Before starting The Anima Series, I started Creators for the Creator and the Actor’s Christian Association, two organizations with similar goals to Anima that failed within their first year of existence. (The Anima Series turns one year old next month. Pray that we can make it!)
I believe one of the biggest reasons I’ve been able to continually overcome the fear of starting is that I have so much practice with failure. I know what it’s like to start something and to have your worst fear for the project realized. And guess what, it’s not that bad.
If I start a blog and no one reads it, or I discover I’m not a very good writer, then what’s the worst thing that’s happened? My pride has been hurt a bit and I have to admit to my handful of friends that I gave up on that “awesome idea” I told them about last week. Now, if you’re skydiving, your worst case scenario is a lot more serious. But most of the time, it’s nothing more than some small embarrassment and a slight ego check. I can live with that, especially if it leads to eventual success in the future.
Tim Ferriss, in his book The 4-Hour Workweek, calls this “defining the nightmare.” It’s this idea that fear is most effectively overcome when we define the worst case scenario (the nightmare). Most often we’ll realize that the consequences of failure pale in comparison to the potential gain that will come with success. Not only is it worth taking the risk, but it’s even worth failing, cause failure actually isn’t that bad.
Before you start your next project, take some time and define your nightmare. Chances are that the worst case scenario isn’t as bad as you thought. So why be afraid? Just start.