What's the difference between the people who are remembered by history and those who make up the silent majority who simply live and die?
I don't believe history remembers people by chance. I don't believe some people are born with better ideas or more capable skills or that it requires a unique set of circumstances to do great things.
Many of us -- perhaps most of us -- have incredible ideas, world-changing visions for how things could be better. We think many of the same thoughts that memorable people throughout history have thought.
So why aren't we doing anything? Why are we just living out our lives, caught up in the daily grind?
I think the answer lies in our reluctance to believe in ourselves and face our self-doubt. We see the possibility in our idea and we get scared that it just might work. As Julien Smith calls it, we flinch. We see the possibility and then pull back from going any further.
I read Julien's new ebook today (it's short and
free [edit: it's not free anymore, but you can easily find it for free by Googling 'the flinch']; a great read) and there were lots of things about his idea that rang true for me. For example, in one part of the book he talks about leaning into the flinch and allowing that instinctive desire to retract to point us in the direction we should push forward.
The last time I clearly remember leaning into what I would've normally pulled back from was when I wrote my first ebook, Small Ways to Make a Big Difference.
The idea for the project came suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere. I was sitting at my laptop in the kitchen of my hosts house, only a few days after arriving in Kathmandu, Nepal.
It certainly wasn't the first time I'd had a spontaneous idea for an ebook, but what followed the idea this time was much different. Instead of over-thinking and considering all the reasons I shouldn't do it, I immediately sent an email to 60 people inviting them to participate in the project.
That one action, that leaning into what I normally would've pulled back from, essentially opened the door to the completion of that project. It took three weeks of obsessively working on it every single day, but there wasn't a single moment in that entire three weeks where I thought of quitting. I kept leaning into the flinch until I was done.
I think the people who are remembered by history are the ones who don't stop pushing. They see something, or have an idea, and instead of doubting themselves or the possibilities, they lean into them.
Despite the entire world pushing the status quo onto them and doubting the usefulness of their rebellious nature, these few people push back. And they don't stop pushing. Ever.
Failure doesn't make them flinch because they're leaning into failure. They're walking in the direction they expect to fail while holding onto a belief that what lies ahead is something worth it. And they're usually right. What lies on the other side of failure is usually what helps them change the world.