I took my daughter to the pool to learn to swim the other day. After being in the water for a while and getting her comfortable, I asked her to jump to me off the side of the pool and I would catch her.
“I’m scared.” She repeated multiple times while refusing to take the leap.
Now, for contrast, this child leaps onto my back from the top of our couch sometimes when I’m not looking or paying enough attention to her, or if we’re playing. She’s not scared of falling a few feet and landing on the hard ground, yet when faced with a 6″ leap to the water, while wearing flotation devices and a father who is a strong swimmer, trained in the water for safety and is willing to catch her, she won’t do it. Why would that be?
There is a narrative void in her head.
Human nature is to fill in the narrative and if you can’t, walk away from it.
She has no clue what to expect, and she is shying away from it. No explanation of how minimal the consequences will be will let her step into that void in a positive way.
This story isn’t unique to my daughter. We are all constantly “learning to swim” metaphorically with different topics in our life whether it’s entrepreneurship, marketing, managing relationships, taking care of ourselves or just about anything else. Just like my daughter, we’re often scared to do what we know can be done. To take that leap.
The way I see it, there are two ways out for my daughter: one of these times at the pool she’s running around and accidentally falls in the side. She then realizes the consequences aren’t that bad and jumping is no big deal. The other option is she sees others doing it and decides it’s possible that she can do it too.
Regardless of whatever endeavor you are taking on those are the only two options, but in some cases, like writing the great American novel, you’re not going to do it by accident. You’ll have to be deliberate. The only option to fill the narrative void is to choose to fill it by doing the work. As a quick reminder, “work” is just the word for it, we don’t have to fill that normal association we do with that word.