A Case for Being Bad
Anyone who knows me on a level just slightly deeper than a professional relationship, knows that I'm a bit obsessive. (l blame/thank my father). So of course, you're all going to hear about my obsessions and right now my number one is skiing.
I decided when I moved to California that THIS was going to be the season that I actually get "good" at skiing. I had only been 4 times in my life and although I loved it (except for the first time) it was still pretty scary and unknown to me.
Last weekend I went skiing with my friends Mike and Jet. At one point in the middle of the day, Mike said to me, "You know, when we ski in a group we'll usually go about 1/3 of the way down, stop, regroup, and continue on."
My immediate response was, "I'm just bad at stopping and restarting. I always mess up and fall when I do that."
Mike- "Well, maybe you need to practice."
Ah. Just like in my life, I don't like to slow down.
Getting out of your comfort zone really brings out your most innate tendencies. In this case, I am not scared of falling necessarily, it is the slowing down and giving myself the grace to stop that I don't care for very much.
I LOVE learning something from scratch for 3 reasons:
1) The learning curve is on your side. You make the most noticeable progress in the shortest amount of time. Improving is addicting!
2) You get to see your innate tendencies and true self. You get to see how you react when things are frustrating, scary, or just plain difficult.
In addition to the slowing down thing, here are two more examples of things I've noticed:
- When I start going fast, if I just stop worrying about turning or falling, I can actually make a good run of it.
- I'm a pretty moderate person. The "one more run" thing at the end of the day? Yeah, not interested. I am happier to say you guys go ahead.
3) You get to practice conquering fear.
My lizard brain is scared. I have nightmares about speeding down the mountain out of control. Through practice, however, I can also get outside of my own head and recognize that. I can talk myself through the physical manifestations of fear.
I'm not 100% sure when I started doing that but the furthest back I can trace it is my first few years out of college. I think it's called mindfulness... or something.
No one is fearless but in order to do life changing things you need to practice not letting fear limit you.
My keys to getting past fear:
- Identify the emotion as fear
- Sometimes you are scared but it comes out as anger at someone or a hatred for whatever it is that you are scared of. For me, I get physical symptoms: stomach ache and restless sleep.
- Assess if the fear is valid
- Is the scenario that you are imagining actually a logical outcome? (Is it possible for me to accidentally go speeding down a hill? Actually, yes.)
- Walk through the most likely outcomes
- What's the worst that can happen? What's the best thing that could happen? Once you list out the possible outcomes, you can decide if what you are scared about is: a good idea but just scary <OR> a bad idea and scary. Either way, the decision becomes obvious.
- Breathe, pray, and take action
- The reality is that the outcome is almost never as bad as you imagine. Moving cities, changing jobs, learning to ski, talking to a new person, changing your diet, etc.
The key is moving quickly once you get to step 4!
Once you decide, you need to commit and do so quickly before you get scared again. Money usually makes me commit so I bought a season pass, rented skis for the season, and signed up for a lesson the following weekend. I was IN.
My final, slightly corny, but 100% accurate metaphor for tackling something new or doing something scary:
When it starts to get difficult or you're not sure how you're going to handle the next turn, get low and lean into it.