On Daring to Begin … And Continue

When it comes to daring to make a change, to be creative, to follow your dreams, the key is not just starting. But rather continuing against all odds.

Photo credits: Marie-Theres Langlotz, taken in Sougia, Crete, Greece

As so often in my life, I recently recognize a pattern. A pattern as colorful as a kaleidoscope, a mandala made out of the threads of dreams and doubts, motivation, exhaustion, and passion, and most of all courage. As human beings, we are a species driven to innovate. The instinct behind this, an inner force, is creativity. Creation is never static, it’s in motion, but for it to bloom, we need to give space to our ideas. There are countless books on entrepreneurship. All that is written is the source of someone sitting down to create, let knowledge, feelings, thoughts, flow onto a page. Especially as an entrepreneur, anyone on an endeavor, you find yourself in the middle of it. First there is a vision, then there is the scribbling it down, the conversations about the idea. If the universe conspires in your favor, serendipity seems to match you with people and events that allow the seed of your idea to become a reality, your reality. Change.

Daring greatly in that moment can make all the difference and lead you on a path of accomplishments and purpose. These first decisions always feel exciting and boost the fragile little voice inside. Somehow, this is the time when a lot of people that do not dare greatly compliment you on your braveness. This is the time when you realize how many people are all talk and no action. It’s the time when you realize how few people do what they actually enjoy doing on a regular basis. You keep going and see the bright side of leaping towards the idea that found a home within you. And this works out fine until the day, the week, the month, the months, where you seem to hit one wall after the other.

As in fairy tales and love stories that tell us narratives about how they fell in love, got saved, found their courage, the stories of “daring to begin” often end here. Where the moment of joy and courage unfolds. No one shares failures or disappointments on social media. Instagram stories are rarely a platform for an artist speaking about roadblocks, a minor (major) crisis. Experiencing obstacles is culturally not received as something to embrace or praise. Most people feel extremely uncomfortable simply holding space for someone who emotionally needs to speak about what exactly is not working, why nothing is working, or why they doubt their own existence in consequence of the projects they are working on.

It is boring to listen to self-pity. For others and for oneself. It is difficult to find the right words in response to failure. “It’s going to be fine” or other sugarcoating phrases rather end up sending out a message of blocking deeper understanding of the challenges we’re going through. And though solving the discomfort of such a conversation by blaming circumstances or others involved is easy, the solution might actually be in the attempt. The continued effort. And that is a perspective that we need to train ourselves and others in, in order to keep going.

Instead of interpreting it as a sign that points us towards quitting, I think roadblocks and challenges, obstacles thrown our way are all signs that actually invite us to observe the situations and ourselves. It’s where it gets interesting. What they do is reveal great knowledge on our limiting beliefs, society’s narrow-mindedness, a flawed system. Of course, this raises the question, do I want to continue? What needs to change, in order for me to continue? Me? The place I find myself in? My attitude? My surrounding? And that is really the point where we’re required to face ourselves. We look into mirrors for reassurance, yet this is a mirror that reveals a truth not necessarily giving us charming compliments. But the comfort zone is not a fertile place. Nothing ever grows there. So keep looking.

It is easier said than done to un-stuck yourself, when you’re feeling really stuck. When we look back on our lives so far though, hasn’t every challenge and every perceived “failure” led us somewhere? We always do something. We always continue. And that’s the beauty of it. True resilience is within all of us. The plant that grows through concrete. And it is the only way. Real courage does not just lie in daring to begin, but in daring to continue.

Whether it is daring to paint, although you haven’t done it in a lifetime, or keeping up a routine of running, of meditation, of self-care. Maybe it is trying to find a connection, a compromise, a solution, after a period of conflict arising in your relationship. Or the realization of a travel to foreign places you’ve never seen, practicing new habits, or setting up your own business. Building something, writing something, planting something, loving someone (or something). Anything. When it gets tough, when your arms get heavy and the wind blows in your face and you’re out of breath. Rest for a bit. Cry a river. Retreat inwards. And without judgement, ask yourself, what does this tell me? Do I still want to create this? What can I try to change this situation? What do I need to take a closer look at? The truth will be there. The truth is always there. It’s just that sometimes, we need to go a few more rounds, before it becomes loud enough for us to hear. It is part of the process.

Then, buckle up, get up again, and keep going. You got this. Maybe, it means changing the direction. Maybe, it means a lot of work. But dare to continue. This is the way.

And as you shift your perspective and trust in your own resilience again, practice this new kindness towards yourself and others. On your journey towards realizing your dreams, who do you look up to? Think about everyone around you. Who dares greatly?

I have come to embrace those that surround me as my role models. Real people. They share their doubts and pain with me and I walk through the fire by their side, as they do with me. The greatest gift and source of motivation and inspiration remains this: seeing those close to you blossom and craft the reality they envisioned.

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