The pain of growth. Never ready. Just willing.

Every day I review my long-term vision and goals — for myself, for my family, for the things I want to do. And every single day, for those 5 or 10 minutes, I feel fear clutch my belly.

I believe we all achieve our goals when we are committed to them. No exceptions. Look back on your life — if you had a goal you completely gave yourself to, you would have achieved it. The bigger ones took a little more time, that’s all.

I also remember how I felt the last time I formed a new goal, and the time before that. It was the same feelings — those feelings of ill-preparedness, helplessness, fear, confusion, doubt, smallness. The despair of not knowing how to climb “the mountain”.

You know….you will never be ready or feel ready. If you are comfortable, then you’ve underestimated your goal, or your goal is not big enough.

You will never be ready for the fear, the doubt, the pain, the lack of progress, the sudden progress, the growth, the lulls that maroon you in a sea of doubt.

You will never be ready, truly ready, for the negativity, the scorn, the poorly-concealed concern and skepticism that others will generously shower you with.

Often, your support network will vehemently oppose you. And you will never be ready for the sudden change in the support, attitude, confidence and strength of those you count on — your parents, friends, spouse, family, siblings, co-workers.

You will never be ready for the unseen obstacles and the unknown pitfalls. The bitter disappointments, capricious betrayals or fickle fortunes. Or, for that matter, the fleeting serendipities that could save you.

You will never be ready for the darkness, and the blind stumbling, for the unpredictable highs and lows. Or the dazzling and tantalising light at the end of the tunnel.

So don’t bother with being ready. If you are boxing blindfolded, you are never ready. but you must be willing. You must be willing to take those hits. To deal with the doubt, the fear, the rejection, the dismissals. You must be willing to prevail, to hold on, to cling on, to be battered, and to be elated. You must be willing to win it all, then lose more than you had, then get a little bit and lose that too, then claw it back.

I believe entrepreneurship is risking everything you’ve got to attain more than you’ve ever had.

You must be willing to be lost, to not know where to go next, and yet give yourself one, single reason to move forward. You must be willing to dig deep in, past the scar tissue, like a champion does, to find your own truth, your own conviction. You must be willing to believe and to have faith contrary to the evidence of your senses. You must be willing to close your eyes and perceive with your soul. You must be willing to be suddenly alone, and then surrounded only by sneering faces. You must be willing to weather all this, if you believe in yourself.

To perform at your maximum, you have to teach yourself to believe with an intensity that goes way beyond logical justification. No top performer has lacked this capacity for irrational optimism.

— Arsene Wenger

You can never be ready, but you must be willing.

First published on LinkedIn on 17 October 2017.

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