I had a conversation this morning with a soon-to-be-graduate. (Soon-to-be, as in, tonight at approximately 9:30 p.m), and she told me something remarkable. She’s going to college this fall in Delaware, and immediately heading overseas to study at university in Madrid. Cool! I said, what a chance to improve on your knowledge of Spanish in an immersion setting (and maybe catch a world-class soccer match). It’ll be life-changing, and you’ll come back speaking the language like a native!
Nope, she says. I took French in high school.
Yup. Here’s this French-language student going halfway around the world to put herself into a hugely-challenging life where she’s bound to be discouraged and frustrated nearly every day, multiple times a day. Not for the faint of heart.
Now there’s two ways to look at this kind of steep-learning-curve scenario. One is with an aversion to risk, the instinct to play it safe and avoid it, settling for learning Spanish in a classroom, or even a French-immersion scenario.
The other is to embrace it.
What better opportunity for growth, for learning about the potential pitfalls of a risky endeavor, and discovering how to overcome them than to pitch headlong into the water? Maybe it’s a carefully-calculated dive. (It probably should be). But even if it’s carefully-calculated, it’s still a dive. And there’s only one way to dive. Whether you know how to swim or not, what’s bound to happen after you hit the water?
In this scenario, or a hundred others like it which you’re thinking of in your own life – your dreams, your deeply-held passions – there will be a chance to leap, which will be followed by the potential for thrashing. Maybe even epic amounts. And, along with that thrashing will come frustration, discouragement, questions about the purpose and meaning of our existence, or this dream, all of that.
But, as with all new endeavors which involve thrashing early, my friend Ceara will be doing something extremely important: she’ll be getting the most difficult, existential-crisis part of her venture out of the way up front, to make way for growth later. There’s only one way to go from there – up.
If you’re going to thrash, as Seth Godin puts it, thrash early. It’s better than thrashing later. Because obstacles will come. But you’ll see them early.
So, what new endeavor are you considering? What risky, lump-in-the-throat leap of faith in the direction of a dream or passion? There will be thrashing. But if there’s thrashing to be done, let’s get it out of the way early.