I had my first home haircut in about 40 years the other day. They say ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ and entering week 7 of lockdown with a shaggy mane and no prospect of a haircut, I was definitely in need. My wife Shelley was kind enough to take up the challenge (and the clippers) with lots of rowdy encouragement from the kids.
But here’s the funny thing. Although she had never cut anyone’s hair before, she gave me one of the best haircuts I’ve ever had! Is Shelley a coiffure savant you might ask? Nope.
So how did she not just cut my hair, but do such a great job? She Googled, watched videos, paused, re-watched, checked, went slowly, focused on the details, asked me for my feedback.
When I initially asked Shelley would she cut my hair, she point blank refused. “What if I mess it up”…”What if the clippers slip”, both very fair questions.
Fear of failure can be an invisible hand-break for all of us on trying new things and pushing beyond our comfort zones. These self-limiting beliefs are sneaky though, they’re delivered in our own internal monologue and sound right and sensible.
“I’m a ‘marketing manager’ not a ‘sales person”
“I can’t do that, I haven’t got the proper training or experience”
“What if I make a mistake, fail or people laugh at me”
“Won’t that mean I’ve wasted the past 5 years, if I change direction now?”
Making a change or mastering a new skill at any stage in life is frightening. The later you leave it, the more frightening it gets, but the fear changes. It’s no longer the fear of failure, it’s the fear of regret, why didn’t I do something sooner, what if this next path isn’t the right one either.
My personal belief is there’s no magical right path, but through a fair bit of self-reflection you can work out which ones are definitely wrong for you and avoid them, which at least moves you forward.
I have this sense that right now in all corners of the world, a huge number of people are re-evaluating their direction, their career path and their purpose.
Wondering if they’re doing the right thing. Wrestling with big questions around fulfilment, legacy and impact and smaller questions around focus, fun and creativity.
I’m not for a second telling anyone to jump ship, change course or do something radically different with their life or career, I recognise everyone’s circumstances are unique and any decision of this nature is deeply personal.
What I can say however is that my own personal experience has taught me that being type-cast is a bad thing. Not changing direction, despite a strong feeling you’re heading in the wrong direction, can be deeply frustrating and stultifying.
If you’re struggling with these questions, a book that had a huge impact on me was “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield, which explores all the sneaky invisible obstacles to doing the stuff that you’re capable of and fulfilling you’re potential.
The best advice I can give? Just start!