Learning to be brave, or at least learning

That pool is just as freezing every morning and it’s just as hard to get naked and dive in.
— Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

The truth is: I have to muster my courage every day.

I want to do things that I don’t have the skills for, so every day I struggle.  To learn.  To take the risk to try things I don’t know how to do.  To ask for help when I’m pretty sure I have stupid questions.  And then ask stupid, quite possibly annoying, follow up questions.  I take calculated risks about things that wouldn’t be risks at all if I knew what I was doing (email me if you know anything about changing Permalink structures and transferring activation keys to subdomains.  I’m a nurse, for goodness sake!).  And so I make too many mistakes.  I consume way too much time researching to try to understand the risks and avoid the mistakes, but I also seem to evaporate time in the daily exercise of overcoming my avoidance.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love to be productive.  Which is probably why it’s so hard for me to work so slowly, to have so little product to show for my efforts while I’m trekking through the valley of the shadow of the learning curve.

But I do keep hiking that curve.

Avoidance would lead me down the path of complacent contentment.  No one can really argue with contentment, which makes it very tough to resist.  Contentment is so serene.  (Maybe a little boring, but) so peaceful.  So easy like Sunday morning.

But complacency, now that’s another story.  That’s a kind of resignation that makes the creator inside me rebel.

You can see my dilemma.  Steven Pressfield eloquently calls it The War of Art.  But because I’m more of a plodder than an artist, I just call it fear.

I’m good at some things.  Things I’ve done a long time. They’re easy for me now.  I can drive a car without thinking about all the coordination required between my eyes, my hands, my feet and the steering wheel —  which are all things I used to think about, especially after I hit a tree on my first driver’s test.  (Well, it was a parallel park, what can you expect?)  I’ve done my day job so long it’s like a vacation from what I put myself through on my days off.

But I keep trying.  Because there are things I want to accomplish that I don’t know how to do yet.  Things I want to build.  To share.  To create.  I keep learning because I know from experience that once I do a task 3 or 4 or 100 times, it gets a little bit familiar and there’s not quite so much to overcome.  And one day, some day, it get’s easy.

And I take the risk of writing this because maybe, just maybe, you can relate.

Kim Doyal inspired me to write this post – because she’s a self taught WordPress expert, and she sent an email to her universe of readers today that said to stop waiting for permission to put yourself out there and speak in your own voice.  And she added a link to Sara Bareilles song, Brave.  I love the song and posted it to Facebook, but if you haven’t seen it yet (because you still haven’t found the energy it takes to overcome your resistance to learning how to use Facebook), you’re in for a smile.

(I really don’t know if I should categorize this post in Inspiration or Mental Health.  Maybe they’re the same thing.)

And in case you’re wondering, what I’m currently building is an online training program (using WordPress with WP Courseware plugin) that will help more people who want to become Kai Chi Do instructors.  And I think that’s worth the effort it takes me to be brave.

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