To people who have just met me, it might seem that everything I have done seems to have panned out. I wanted to work for myself, and my first few business endeavours didn’t turn out so bad. I wanted to paint, and most of my art has had some gallery time as well as been sold. Same with photography. I wanted to be a good rock climber, and I’m climbing at a pretty respectable level. I wanted to be good with women, and my dating life is respectable right now, to say the least. I wanted to be a good snowboarder, dancer, magician, white water kayaker, adventurer, speak multiple languages, and so and and so forth.
Have I been lucky?
Not so much. Along each thing that works out, there are a serious number of embarrassing failures and a lot of perserverance. I’ve just gotten comfortable with embarrassing failures.
I have a number of shelved paintings that I feel are uninspired, even though I’ve spent countless hours on them. I’ll probably throw them out soon once I accept that they are that bad.
Many of my creative endeavors were canned. Even look at this website, for example, you can see on the sidebanner that I had a writing gap. Risingbean.com had virtually no readership in the first year. And right now, I feel the first few articles I wrote were not particularly well written.
I’m more than sure many of the women I’ve approached in the past thought I was creepy, awkward, or weird. Honestly speaking, 9 out of 10 phone numbers I collected didn’t pan out beyond flirty text messages. Even now, many numbers don’t work out. It’s just part of the game.
When I started learning Latin dancing, most women in the clubs wouldn’t dance with me because I wasn’t a good enough leader. Even today, some women don’t like dancing salsa with me because my style is unconventional (it’s heavily hip hop infused).
I’ve taken huge falls rock climbing, had snowboarding tricks go wrong and land bad, desperately pulled out of my kayak and gasped for air in bitterly cold Nepali rapids, been “busted” doing my magic tricks, offended many people accidentally, and have gotten lost all over the world.
So yes, it’s not without a lot of failure and perserverance that one gets a breakthrough.
And I’m not talking about just trying out something. I’m talking about committing to learn a skill to a proficient level or have a true experience of something.
It’s easy to try out snowboarding and give up because it’s too painful ( tip for beginners: wear wrist guards, knee pads, and a butt pad on your first three days if you want to succeed). Similarly, it’s easy to go snowboarding once a year but never learn to carve. It’s easy to say “Hello”, “How much?”, “Where is the toilet?” and count to 10 in a language, but having a conversation, making friends, or flirting with the opposite sex in a foreign language is a whole new ballgame.
The same goes for anything you try – my point is that you need to commit and follow through consistently to get good at it.
How do we do this?
Castenada once wrote:
“Before you embark on any path ask the question: Does this path have a heart? If the answer is no, you will know it, and then you must choose another path. The trouble is nobody asks the question; and when a man finally realizes that he has taken a path without a heart, the path is ready to kill him.”
Choose the path with heart. Sometimes, like rock climbing, it’s new and exciting from the start. Other times, like learning languages, it takes a while to see the results. As long as the heart is there, once combined with grit and determination, you’ll get there while enjoying the journey.
The journey may involve some loss. Many actors retire from high paying but monotonous TV or movie roles to pursue theatre again. I’ve lost the approval of many people in the pursuit of my endeavours. It’s all about the evolution of ourselves.
So get started. Take your ego out of the picture. Stop worrying about what other people will think. Remove the distractions from your life. Think abundance and opportunity. Everyone is capable of making great achievements.
“Do or do not. There is no try.”