I'm writing this from three days into our Strut Kiteboarding women's kiteboarding camp in Waves, NC. Yes, I also run a side business producing and leading empowering women's kiteboarding retreats (and I also do business and confidence mentoring and education!).
I wanted to write as a reflect on what authentic connection and vulnerability allows you to create as a human. So far, this week has been full of laughs, failures and honest conversations. Everything from what products to use while you're on your period to how to send a jump even higher to why trying something new can be really challenging.
I've learned that it's only through challenging ourselves and trying something new that we can grow. But that doesn't make it any easier to attempt. As humans, we're fearful of looking stupid.
We often get stuck in this idea that we have to be good at everything. We don’t want to be seen as stupid, we don’t want to go through the pain of being a beginner. But this holds us back. We’re stuck in this idea of looking good–all the time.
I’ve struggled with this a lot in both my kiteboarding career and business. Sometimes I find myself unwilling to try because I don’t want to be seen as stupid.
There have been plenty of times when I’ve been one of the worst people out kiteboarding (hard to believe, I know ;) ). I do not like being the worst. I like being the best. And when I’m not the best, I often find myself unwilling to attempt a trick, because I don’t want to be seen crashing what is an easy trick for the other people on the water. I don’t want to be judged. I use this example because it’s so obvious, if you’re not trying anything new when you’re riding or doing a sport, then you aren’t getting better. There’s that saying: if you’re not crashing, you’re not getting better.
We let our children fall on their faces but we don’t let ourselves. We get so caught up in how we look and in what people think about ourselves, that we limit our own progression.
But we know, that on the other side of fear is expansion. And it is ONLY THROUGH TRYING, that we can improve. So how can we be more willing to try?
Here are my top four tips for creating more of a willingness to try.
#1 Reframe failure. Let’s stop talking about failure as a bad thing! Failure is a great thing! In order to improve we need to let ourselves get uncomfortable and look stupid. We should find ways to do something new and embrace every failure as progression. Easier said than done, I know.
One tangible way that we can practice this is by replacing the word failure with “revelation” Mika Agrawal teaches this in her book Disrupt-her. Life is about learning and growing and failure simply doesn’t have a part in that because it’s about disclosing something that was not realized before. And both good and bad are part of the growing process. The more you reveal, the more you’ll learn and the more you’ll be able to grow the next time.
#2 Embrace the beginner mindset.
One of my favorite stories was told during a speech by Marc Randolph, the founder of Netflix. It was “nobody knows anything”. He spoke about how, when starting Netflix, they would just keep trying stuff. They weren’t sure exactly what their rental business would look like and they kept iterating and iterating and trying and trying and failing and failing until ultimately they landed on their winning combination of unlimited DVD rentals by mail. They didn’t know that’s what was going to eventually launch the stratospheric success that is Netflix. And nobody on the team really knew, but they kept failing and they kept trying.
This second lesson then is embrace the beginner mindset. Come into situations without presumption and assuming that you know everything. The beginner mindset is this idea that we always have more to learn and that it's through acknowledging the journey and staying curious and open that we will have the most success.
- In the words of Liz Bohannon, "instead of posturing, and being afraid and desperately trying to save face and keep up with the Joneses, we can pour ourselves into building a meaningful life that aligns with your truest beliefs and deepest desires".
- In her book, Beginner’s Pluck. Liz challenges us to "own our average" so that we are freed up from all the sucking energy of comparison and instead channel that energy into being an interested observer.
- When we own our average, when we understand that in the grand scheme of things we are pretty middle of the road, we can let ourselves relax.
- We don't have to be the best. We don’t have to be the number 1 speaker or accountant or athlete. But we can be our best.
- We can choose to be curious. We don’t have to pretend like we know everything, because we know that we don’t.
#3 Do a debrief. What can you learn from this situation?
A few years ago my friend Debbie Jean and I were doing a photoshoot in Maui. We had convinced one of her friends to take underwater photos of us. Her and I were swimming around underwater, posing for photos. We thought we looked fabulous. We thought we were amazing. We thought we were beautiful mermaids and we could not have looked better.
We wrapped the shoot thinking we had absolutely killed it and we go home, put the card in the computer and eagerly start looking through the photos. And the photos were terrible. We looked liked drowned rats! We looked completely awkward, we couldn’t use a single photo. And you know what? It was hilarious.
Was that experience, technically, a failure? Yes, we didn’t gather any content. But we learned a lot.
After every situation, do a debrief. What worked well? What didn’t? What did we learn? This will help cement the revelations and help you embrace the idea that even when things don't go perfectly right, there are key takeaways.
#4 Hang out with people who are slightly better than you.
In order to be shown what’s possible and to push past our inner limiting thoughts, we need to hang out with and be around people who are slightly better than us in the areas we want to improve in. But they can’t be so much better that you can’t imagine yourself doing what they can do. Because then you have an excuse not to go for it. Or it’s too intimidating.
I find myself doing this in kiteboarding a lot. When I’m riding around with a group of professional guys who are attempting tricks that I can’t even imagine myself doing, I kinda just get stuck in my same old patterns. I can’t see myself doing what they’re doing, so I just keep doing the same trick I’ve been working on for 3 years. But when I ride with people that are at a similar level or just slightly better than me, I’m inspired! I’ll see a peer doing a trick, and immediately I’ll think, oh if she can do it, so can I.
Surround yourself with people who are doing awesome things and allow yourself to be pushed out of your comfort zone. You got this!
I hope these tips help you go out there and try. You're doing awesome.