Sometimes in your career, just as I was, you are faced with nothing, nada, zilch, zero. In my case it was the train crash that absolutely trashed my financial advice career and left me with no way back. For others it may be the failure of a business, having to change direction in order to survive or even trying a new venture but not being sure where to start. Here are some tips on how to get going:
Gird Your Loins and Keep Trying
To gird is to prepare for a military attack, but more loosely it refers to readying oneself for any kind of confrontation. When you gird for something, you are preparing for the worst-case scenario. Gird can also mean “fasten something tightly with a belt or a band” (as in “gird your loins”),
(Gird described tying up loose clothing prior to hard or dangerous work, as far back as Biblical times.)
Nowadays it is used to describe mental preparation for a challenge.
Don’t be Afraid to Try – I have always said that I would prefer to have tried and failed then not to have tried at all. It’s only by adopting this approach that anything new or exciting can become your future. Open your mind and let the ideas flow. Yes, it can be scary. I’ve often embarked on things that have made me feel sick to the pit of my stomach with fear but I’ve gritted my teeth and still done them. Do not let your fear overwhelm and stifle your creativity.
I would say that 80% of the time things work out, often so much better than you expected which is a great adrenaline rush. The 20% it doesn’t isn’t a waste of time. It is a valuable resource for working out what and why it didn’t work and then altering tack for the next time.
Why you owe it to yourself to keep trying
In business as in life, there are critics. Those whose sole purpose is to find fault, even where no fault lies. I’m not talking about constructive criticism, decent feedback, that is important and necessary. Positive assessment of a situation is useful, and I will talk about that in a later article. No, I’m talking about those people who see something new and immediately shoot it down, because they are afraid and it makes them uncomfortable.
You will come across critics any time you try to defy convention, change direction or take a risk. These small minded people will scoff at your attempts to forge a new path. They will belittle you and ask, “Who do you think you are?” Just remember, they are not the ones living your life, you are. As Teddy Roosevelt famously said in His man in the Arena speech
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
It’s a pretty amazing speech about trying, failing and trying again.
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;
and the idea of failing while daring greatly is a powerful notion.
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910
Anyone trying to change direction; find a stronger meaning in their life; pick themselves up after disaster or simply trying to make a bad situation better has met with criticism and may falter. Sometimes others words can make us defiant and stronger, other times they echo that inner critic whispering in our ear.
Defeating the inner critic and keep on keeping on…
The popularity of those Keep Calm memes is in no small part due to our desire to triumph over adversity. However, it can be difficult to defy our inner cautious voice maybe echoing our childhood cautions; “Be careful, you’ll hurt yourself”. So if you are embarking on something your inner voice is screaming at you its risky, could fail, could end in disaster, maybe you should practise a little on a smaller scale.
You don’t dance, you don’t sing…maybe you should? Celebrity sportspeople, newscasters, even politicians all clamour to be part of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing show. Why? They are challenging themselves- moving out of their comfort zones. They risk failure and even humiliation for the exhilaration of learning something new. If Anne Widdicombe can do it, can’t you? Try something new out of your comfort zone, like sport, art, dance, acting, anything that pushes you- and work that fear muscle.
What I’ve found when faced by my inner fear, is that if I just push through it, the result is never as scary as I originally imagined. I am stubborn and that helps. I just keep trying and failure is simply part of the learning. Success is all the sweeter for it.