During my time on the Atlantic, I spent a lot of time wondering, “can I do this?”
My mind would then search through my memory banks to try and find evidence that I could indeed do this. Had I done it before? Had I done something similar before?
And it would draw a blank. Nope, we’ve never done anything like this before. No evidence that we can.
Yikes! Talk about a great way to undermine yourself.
The ego-brain doesn’t like change. It’s a scaredy-cat. It reasons that doing stuff you’ve done before is fine, it’s safe. Doing something that you’ve never done before – you never know, it just might kill you. So best not.
So if it catched you doing something new, it freaks out. The red lights start flashing and sirens blaring.
What do you think you’re doing? Alert, alert!! Abort, abort!! Get back to safety!!
Once I figured this out, I realised I was going to have to find a way to hit the “Don’t Panic” button, to turn off the sirens and flashing lights.
My conclusion was that “Can I do this?” was a bogus question. In the absence of prior evidence that I could do it, I would have to simply carry on doing the thing that would lead eventually to me doing it, i.e. rowing, and only time would tell whether I could actually do it in reality.
So now, if I find myself freaking out because I’m trying something new and I don’t know if it’s possible, I remind myself that there is only one way to find out. And that is to focus on the process that gives me the best possible chance of accomplishing the goal. Don’t get too far ahead of myself. Certainly don’t ask myself if I can do it.
Just keep doing the thing that will get me there.