When I was young, I loved to write. At 8 years old, I wrote my first book about a family of rabbits. It was three pages long, but in my eyes, it was a book!
While my love for writing ignited at a young age, I somehow lost sight of this as I entered adulthood and chose a traditional career path. Like so many people around me, my childhood passions were extinguished, and pursuing my dreams soon felt out of reach.
More than three decades later, in a year when the world felt like it was turning upside down, something inside of me woke up. I stopped being afraid—and decided to take a leap. In less than a year, in the midst of a global pandemic, I wrote and published my first “real” book.
I wrote Brave Now while facing the biggest turning point in my life: a long battle with COVID-19 that was terrifying and profound, all at the same time. I wrote about the life lessons I’ve discovered from years of work in the fields of leadership development and personal transformation, told through the story of my personal battle with the virus.
One of the most powerful lessons I learned in writing a book is this: if you’re up to big things in life, you may have to plunge headfirst even if you’re not perfectly ready.
Why take a leap when you’re not fully ready?
1. There is power in naïveté. I’m a strategic thinker—usually thinking five steps ahead—but as I was battling my health issues, I wasn’t able to plan like I usually do.
So, in writing my book, I took one step at a time. First, I wrote a few pages. When that was done, I learned about the editing process. Then I learned about publishing. Then I learned about marketing. If I had planned ahead, and had known about all the work that was ahead of me, I might have stopped in my tracks before starting. In this case, the naïveté of “not knowing” was actually a gift.
We often have this unbridled optimism as young people but become jaded with age. I’ve now learned that naïveté is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s worth embracing a “beginner’s mind” as we take on bold, new challenges.
2. We learn by doing. Everything I learned about writing a book, I learned by doing. This doesn’t mean it all went smoothly. If I were to write another book, I can already list 10 things I would do differently. Still, I never would have discovered these lessons without this first experience.
We need to let go of “the need to be perfect” the first time around. Once I told myself, “This is my first book,” rather than saying, “This is my only book,” the pressure in my mind to get it absolutely right dissipated. When we release that pressure, we can also be a bit more playful throughout our journey, which helps us learn faster and have fun along the way!
3. Taking a leap is freeing. One of the most disempowering things in life is when we have silent dreams but don’t follow through. For years, I had been telling myself I should start writing, and then I never did anything about it. Over time, when we put our dreams on hold, we also start to lose faith in ourselves and maybe even begin telling ourselves: “I don’t have what it takes.”
However, when we finally do what we say we’re going to do—even if the end outcome is a complete failure—it’s liberating. Once I stopped thinking about writing and actually began doing it, I started to relate to myself as a “woman of my word.” Now, when I say I’m going to do something, I believe I’ll do it, and that’s empowering.
4. You stop robbing others of your greatest gifts. Often, when we want to take a leap, it’s related to something we care deeply about, where we might have an opportunity to contribute to others. When we have something to contribute and don’t do anything about it, we’re being stingy. We’re robbing others of the unique gifts we have to offer the world!
Once I published my book, I discovered that, through my words, I was able to help thousands of people find joy, play, freedom, and peace in their lives. I realize now that I wasted so many years hiding this piece of myself because I hadn’t been willing to take the leap.
What could you contribute to the world that you’re keeping to yourself? What might be possible if you stopped being afraid? What could you accomplish by taking that leap?