Tipping points require tackling what we fear
The last few weeks I’ve been in a rut. Zero energy. Zero inspiration. Zero smile. People told me to just keep at it and eventually I would breakthrough. A friend even quoted me Snoopy, “Keep looking up, that’s the secret to life.”
Even though their intentions were good, their advice didn’t help. No matter how hard I tried to grind it out, and bet on my strengths, my creative muscles didn’t comply.
However, all that changed when during a recent morning commute I heard Seth Godin say, “The best way to complain is to make something.”
Like most times I listen to Mr. Godin, something clicked. But instead of making what I love, and giving my standard creative outlet of writing another shot, I decided to mix things up and give a shock to my system by making something I hate.
You want to feel alive? Do something you hate:
I have a speech impediment and I make my living by helping high-performing individuals tighten their communication skills and build strong relationships. As you might imagine, the road to here has not been easy. But I am very proud I won the comfort I have today by learning how to own my discomfort.
However, wherever pride lies, complacency hides, and somewhere along the way, I forgot the fact that I won the life I love by doing the very things I used to hate.
I used to hate meeting new people. I used to hate moving every two years as a kid. I used to hate giving presentations.
But by facing these fears, I found my smile. Following this logic, I decided to give hate another shot, and I did something I convinced myself I would never do: I hit the streets of Barcelona to film my first ever video for social media.
“Do what you love” is not always the answer:
When was the last time you saw someone who stutters make a video? Can’t recall? This is for a reason, we hate it.
Nothing makes our skin crawl more than hearing every personal branding guru say, “If you truly want to connect with your audience you have to make videos.”
But with my track record of getting hate to work, I knew I had to do it. 20 takes, and an hour of hesitation later, I hit share.
Within minutes, both literally and figuratively, every previous red light turned green. My work began flowing and my smile began growing. However, this was not because the video was good, it was simply because I gave myself permission to be bad.
The benefit of doing what you hate:
There are many benefits of facing the things you fear. The obvious ones being the confidence boost you receive and the glimpse you get of your future self. However, for me personally, the biggest benefit of doing it, just like all my previous experiences when facing the things I used to hate, is it snaps me back into the land of those who are truly living.
It’s hard not to be present when you hate heights and you are about to jump out of a plane.
It’s hard not to be present when you hate giving presentations and you are about to hit the stage.
These things may be scary. But scared in the present is good. It lets you know you are alive and is much healthier than living in yesterday.
That argument with your co-worker loses power.
That botched work assignment fades away.
Filming that video reminded me of this and in the process taught me a valuable lesson: I wasn’t in a rut, I had just failed to do whatever I needed to do for me as an individual to snap myself back into reality.
Get busy living or get busy dying:
The opportunities and enjoyment we get out of life are a direct reflection of the energy we put into it. However, this doesn’t mean we have to spend all of our time doing things we love to find it.
In fact, sometimes the exact opposite may be the very thing that is needed in order to get your mojo back.
You may hate the idea in the moment, but by giving yourself permission to get something wrong, you may end up getting closer to right.
Seth Godin got it dead right, the best way to complain is to make something.
Along the same lines, the best way to get out of a rut is by making something different.
After all, a very wise man once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Article first appeared in The Startup (Medium.com).