When you’re trying something new that’s beyond your comfort zone, your mind is going to say whatever it needs to in order to get you to NOT take action, STOP whatever you’re doing, and to remain in your place.

  • It will tell you you can’t do it before you try.
  • It will tell you you’re not doing it right while you’re doing it.
  • It will tell you you did it wrong and you should never try again after you’ve tried it.

It’s an extremely powerful force.

You cannot wait until your self-doubt stops before taking action or making changes. It will never happen.

The only way out is through.

This voice is like a prison guard in a tower along the wall of a prison. You’re in the concrete yard, milling about, lifting weights, staying in your place.

Then one day, you have the thought:

I wonder what’s on the other side of that wall?

In your life, this thought comes in the form of a desire or wish. I want to be able to sing like that. I want to have my own business. I want to be a successful counselor. I want to have an amazing marriage.

As soon as you even think that, the guard turns his eyes towards you. He starts with his most mild control strategy. Yelling from the top of the tower through the bullhorn he says something like:

“Don’t even think about it. Who do you think you are? What makes you so special? What do you really have to offer? There are so many other people who are way better than you who are already doing that. You can never do it. You’ll fail and you’ll be worse off and in more debt. Don’t even think about it.”

For most of us, at this point we turn back towards the yard and stop our foolish daydreaming. After all, we have bills to pay, a job to do, a serious life to live. What a dumb idea that was anyway…

But sometimes, just sometimes, we don’t listen to that guard.

We think: Maybe, but I really want to do that. I want to give it a shot at least. I couldn’t live with myself if I never even tried. I have to try.

You start walking towards the wall.

At this point, the guard becomes alarmed. What is this? This is highly unusual behavior. He starts firing some shots in your general direction. You feel this as fear, maybe even terror. Your heart may be pounding as you try to sing those first few notes you may feel overwhelming stress when you sit down to write out your business plan.

“What the hell are you trying to do?” The guard yells. “No one else wants you to do this, no one thinks you can. You’re insane, foolish! A naïve idiot! Everyone else knows you sound and look terrible. You’re pathetic!”

For many people, these shots are enough to take them down. They put the business plan aside after several days of trying, or they cancel that singing lesson. Nah, not for me. Not right now. I’ll start in the beginning of next year when I have more time.

Once in a long while, we make it past this barrage of negative bullets and actually make it to the wall.

We jump, scramble and claw our way up the wall and somehow manage to get to the top.

In life, this is when we’re doing the thing we’re most afraid of. This is when you’re singing in front of a group of people, approaching a beautiful stranger and starting a conversation, asking that beautiful stranger out for some tea, dancing sober with your date, writing that business plan and committing to creating the career of your dreams.

And then, success, right? I’m afraid not. When someone scales the prison wall, the guard doesn’t throw his hands up in resignation and say, “Well, that one got away. Best of luck to him…”

No, the guard will turn his turret right around to the outside of the wall and keep shooting at you. Sometimes these bullets can be even worse.

“That was terrible. Your performance was awful, no one liked it. Anyone who says they did are just taking pity on you. This business proposal will never work out, you realize that don’t you? She’ll never call you back, she thinks you’re a terrible dancer, and you are. Wow, you’re an embarrassment. Totally despicable.”

This can come as a shock to many people. Wait, this is what the other side of the wall is like? Unfamiliar terrain and an even more intense barrage of negative bullets? Wow, I should have never come over here. I was wrong about this whole thing.

Many people will climb back over the wall, back into their own prison.

What’s worse, the next time any other inmate talks about escaping they’ll say: “Yeah, I tried that man. Made it over the wall too. And let me tell you, it ain’t pretty out there. Worse than in here. No, you’re better off just  laying low and letting that fantasy go right now. Ain’t nothing but pain out there.”

Have you experienced someone in your life giving you this message?

What most people fail to realize is the end result is not to scale the wall. It’s to turn towards the wall and to start running. To hit that wall at full pace – leaping towards it and scaling it in a vaulting jump. Once you’re on the other side, you keep going in the direction that you started, heading full speed away from the wall and into the unknown.

Moving towards your dreams at a running pace helps you overcome the mental, emotional, and societal molasses we can all get stuck in if we move too slowly and spend too much time listening to the fears of everyone around us.

And guess what? Even when you’ve scaled that wall and ran out for miles and miles into the open landscape, you’re not free of guards. You’ve opened up your voice and now you can sing comfortably in front of small groups, or you’ve started your dream business and are starting to gain some income.

Soon, you’ll find you hit a new wall. Now there’s an opportunity to make a CD and sing to a concert hall, or now you have a chance to expand your business marketing message to thousands more people.

There’s always another level of expansion, and always a guard in the tower ready to shoot at you as you move towards it.

Imagine a future in which you have run towards your dreams and scaled walls so many times you see the whole scenario differently. Instead of this guard being an intimidating jailor who traps you, he’s an obstacle, a challenge, a worthy foe.

There you are, standing in the middle of the concrete yard, planning your next move over the wall. The guard is staring right into your eyes, right into your soul.

Without shame or submissiveness, you stare him right back in the eyes. There’s a silent moment when everything else stops and there’s just you and your jailor staring eye to eye…

And then you begin to run towards the wall.