Those of you who have followed this blog for any length of time, or who know me personally know that one of the things I can struggle with is understanding emotionally that when you start something new there is a period in which you look foolish. It is not that this is a difficult concept to grasp, or that anyone really thinks people are just born great. The fact is just how to get past the feeling of looking foolish. After all, I can’t think of a single person I know who relishes the idea of looking like they have no idea what they are doing.
There are two concepts to keep in mind when attempting something for the first time. First, do not compare yourself to others. If someone first starting out in baseball compared themselves to say Babe Ruth, they would be discouraged. Another thing to bear in mind when comparing yourself to someone who achieves a great deal of success at anything is that we only tend to hear about them after they have mastered their craft. We don’t hear about the growth and struggles they went through on the way up. The person you are often comparing yourself to has went through a period of looking foolish as well.
The second thing to keep in mind when starting something new is what you may gain by learning this skill and what you will lose by not learning it. At present I am trying to convince Margie to learn to snorkel when we go to Jamaica. I recall when I first learned to snorkel. There were mouths full of salty ocean water, losing a flipper, figuring out how to get into the ocean while having flippers on and a million other things I am sure I forgot. Knowing this ahead of time I might not have ventured to learn how. That would be a shame, because once I learned how it was like a whole other world opened up for me. The quiet underwater world where you could see bright colored coral and even brighter colored fish. I would have missed seeing eels, flounder, and sea horses. This would have been a shame. I also think about the countless hours of joy I have experienced while snorkeling. It is now the thing I am looking forward to doing most when I arrive in Jamaica.
So before you decide not to try something new for fear of looking foolish, remember the two elements to consider that we have discussed here today. First, do not compare yourself to others. They looked foolish when they began too. One day you may very well be at their level, but only if you begin. As the saying goes, “You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great.” Second, think of both what you will gain by learning this skill and what you may miss out on if you do not. Life is shorter than we think. We should embrace all life has to offer.