Be brave enough to try

September 29, 2017

I think it's important to regularly make choices that you know will result in discomfort, worry and fear.

I say this from a position of privilege, recognizing that as a white, middle-class dude I have many cards in my favour. Other people do not have that advantage.

If you find that you typically gravitate towards what's comfortable, known and logical, you're missing opportunities for growth, a widening of perspective and some good ol' fashioned adventure.

It wasn't until I met Sharla, got married and we had children that I started to recognize some of the comfortable, long-lasting choices I'd made in my life. This became especially true in the past ten years as our kids grew older and I began to see myself through their eyes.

The willingness to try - to purposely choose the difficult path - means opening yourself up to the likely potential for public embarrassment and ridicule. You have to accept that you'll probably make a lot of mistakes and appear a fool.

For example, the sports I've participated most in over the course of my life have been those that I know well and am reasonably good at: cycling, snowboarding, skateboarding and skiing. I chose and stuck with these sports because they are logical and comfortable for me.

Two years ago, I did the opposite: I joined a local men's basketball league, knowing that I wasn't very good and it would be challenging to keep up. Most of the league's players were also 10-20 years younger than me.

My first game, I was a disaster. I shot airballs, passed to players on the wrong team and grabbed rebounds, only to lose the ball seconds later. Like I said, a disaster. This went on for a number of games.

I'd played basketball in high school and university, but only with friends and in pick-up leagues. I had the most basic of skills and could get by with what I knew, but in a game setting that wasn't enough. Not even close.

I'm not a natural athlete, but I'm also not afraid of hard work. If I stick with something long enough, I know I'll eventually gain the necessary skills and experience to look not half-bad at it.

At this point, entering my third season in the basketball league I've made a lot of progress. I don't immediately panic when I get the ball, I drive to the basket and I can more easily predict what's going to happen and where I should be to help my team. Last season I even won the Most Improved Player award.

It's been extremely helpful that there's other guys in the league who quietly give me tips and pointers on how to play and what to do in different situations. This has been vital in building my confidence and a greater belief in my abilities.

Playing basketball is one area in my life where I chose the scary path on purpose. The same could be said for some other recent choices such as my job change, investments we've made, trips we've taken and different things we've done.

Making the deliberate choice to seek out discomfort, welcome worry and encourage fear is not what could be considered logical. It's not logical to me either, but sometimes though, you should do that.

Sometimes, you need to be brave enough to try.