Now isn’t that a quote!? I heard this the other day listening to Alie Ward’s 100th episode of Ologies. In just about every episode, Alie will interview an expert about their “ologie.” Just to give you an idea, here’s a smattering of relatively recent ologies:
- Saurology (Lizards)
- Acarology (Ticks)
- Mycology (Mushrooms)
- Scorpiology (Scorpions)
- Astrobioliogy (Aliens)
- Ludology (Video games)
Pretty cool, eh?
Anywho, in Alie’s most recent episode, she wanted to be a bit more celebratory, given that it was her 100th, so she riffed a bit on motivation. And in that riff came this golden quote: “Switchbacks Get You Up the Steepest Mountains.” In the context of what she was saying, she discussed some of the lessons she’d learned from the ologist’s that she’d interviewed — just about all of them had no qualms about diving head first into their profession. Diving head first into trying. Diving head first into trying.
She lamented about her struggle in starting the podcast — she had the first episode in the can for 9 months (!) before releasing. The things we do are never going to be perfect. We’ll always be getting better. We’ll always be iterating. We’ll always be perfecting. Never perfect. Always perfecting.
For some folks (okay, many?) there can be a paralyzing fear about starting. A paralyzing fear about hitting send. A paralyzing fear about publishing. A paralyzing fear about putting yourself out there. Unfortunately, until we put ourselves out there, until we’re “off the deep end,” we won’t know what we’re capable of. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. You — yes you! — could be the next Picasso (er, or, famous artist, in case you’re not a fan of his story). But if you never let anyone see your paintings, how can you get from you to Picasso-level fame?
Maybe you don’t want fame. Maybe you’re happy living as a recluse. I don’t buy it. I don’t think that’s true. We all yearn for human contact and human connection. The “recluses” among us are those who’ve been hurt the most. They’ve been taught, through their upbringing or interactions, that it’s not safe to venture out. That when they venture out, they get hurt. And that makes me sad. It makes me sad that humans, because of their own pain and suffering, lash out and bring pain and suffering to other humans.
“Switchbacks Get You Up the Steepest Mountains.” Venturing out, dipping your toe in the pool, taking that first baby step… Is it going to be on the “right” path — no, almost certainly not. Does it matter — heck no! It’s the act of taking the step. It’s the act of venturing forward. It’s the act of becoming a person who takes steps. It’s the act of becoming a person who recognizes that there’s a vulnerability in putting yourself out there and does it anyway because they know that the rewards are far greater than the perceived — perceived! — losses.
When you steel yourself and take that first step, is it going to be “up” the mountain? Is it going to be straight up the mountain? No, it won’t be. Because getting from here to there rarely ever happens in a straight line. Instead, you’ll start out on the path and get to a point where you realize, “Oh, I need to be going this way, now,” and then you’ll turn on your heel and up the switchback you’ll go. While it might seem like you’re backtracking, after a few minutes, as you gaze ‘down’ the mountain, you’ll see that you’ve ascended quite a bit by moving through these switchbacks. By moving through your life and venturing out. By moving through your life and putting yourself out there. By taking calculated (and sometimes not calculated) risks.
It’s the switchbacks that get you up the steepest mountains.