Failing to fight procrastination

Peter Bregman has an insightful post on the Harvard Business Review site about something he noticed while sitting on a beach and watching surfers. 

"No matter how good, how experienced, how graceful they were on the wave, every surfer ended their ride in precisely the same way: By falling.

"Some had fun with their fall, while others tried desperately to avoid it. And not all falls were failures — some fell into the water only when their wave fizzled and their ride ended.

"But here's what I found most interesting: The only difference between a failure and a fizzle was the element of surprise. In all cases, the surfer ends up in the water. There's no other possible way to wrap up a ride."

Bergman then suggests that preparing for and embracing the "feeling" of falling is the best way in our professional lives to overcome procrastination and truly excel. 

"The answer that kept coming to me was that we would take more risks. That difficult conversation with your boss (or employee, or colleague, or partner, or spouse) that you've been avoiding? You'd initiate it. That proposal (or article, or book, or email) you've been putting off? You'd start it. That new business (or product, or sales strategy, or investment) you've been overanalyzing? You'd follow through. And when you fell — because if you take risks, you will fall — you'd get back on the board and paddle back into the surf. That's what every single one of the surfers did.

"So why don't we live life that way? Why don't we accept falling — even if it's a failure — as part of the ride? Because we're afraid of feeling."

In order to beat this reality, Bergman tells us to get to feeling. 

"Practice. Which you get by taking risks, feeling whatever you end up feeling, recognizing that it didn't kill you, and then getting on the board and paddling back into the surf. Have that difficult conversation. Listen without defensiveness when your colleague criticizes you. Name the elephant in the room. Get rejected.

"And feel it all. Feel the anticipation of the risk. Feel the pre-risk cringe. Then, during the risk, and after, take a deep breath and feel that too."

It is a simple but profound idea. We don't "do" out of fear. We procrastinate because we are scared of the feeling of failure, or maybe even success. How might this be lived out in the life of a Christian? After all we know how this all ends and were our justifications comes from. In other words we have nothing to lose or risk because we are secure in Christ. We should be known for our willingness to step out, take on the task and be willing to fall or fail and get back up and surf again. 

What are you procrastinating on? What conversation do you need to have? What words need to be put onto paper? What things do you need to say no to in order to free up you time to create? Fall, embrace the feeling and get back on the board. 

Read the whole article here


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