We took the kids ice skating for the first time this week. Despite my childhood visions of being the next Olympic skating champion, I’ve now been on ice skates a total of 3 times. We laced up our rented skates and hobbled to the outdoor rink. The sun was exceptionally bright for January. Some skaters had even shed their coats. We stepped onto the ice and gripped the railing.
The kids own roller blades and thought ice skates would be similar. They are. Except for the whole ice part. Little Miss took a tentative step forward and said, “Whoa! That’s slippery!!”
As we wobbled our way around the rink the first time, I asked Little Miss, “Can you imagine spinning and jumping and doing flips on these things?”
With eyes staring straight ahead to not lose her concentration and arms stretched to either side, she responded, “No. I can’t. But this is where everyone starts!”
This is where everyone starts.
Arms flailing just to keep balance.
Holding onto a rail.
Gripping a friend’s hand.
Sore and blistered.
Not sure we can really do it.
Everybody starts here no matter what it is.
The concert pianist didn’t sit down and play her piece flawlessly in one sitting. She spent years practicing, learning to read music, playing one measure over and over and over.
The best-selling author didn’t write his novel in a day. He wrote. Re-wrote. Re-wrote again. Submitted and was rejected. Submitted again.
The professional basketball player didn’t walk onto the court a star. He became one after years of early morning practices, heartbreaking losses, and drilling until his lungs burned and his feet ached.
Ed Catmull, one of the founders of Pixar, describes early versions of their movies as “ugly babies.” In Creativity, Inc. he described a process that takes years of writing, re-writing, story boarding, brainstorming, sketching, re-sketching. Most of the time, the movie we see on the big screen doesn’t even resemble the initial idea.
Every Pixar movie starts as an “ugly baby.” It’s not like after Toy Story and Monsters Inc. they “figured it out” and suddenly making great movies is a breeze. Catmull said one time they attempted to streamline their process and shorten the time it takes to refine the story. It failed. They discovered that writing, re-writing, designing, and re-designing was part of the required process to make their movies great.
The Olympic skaters? They still fall. Maybe not as often, but it still happens.
The celebrated author? He still has ideas that editors don’t like. Maybe not as many, but it still happens.
The concert pianist? She still fumbles a wrong note now and then.
The mom who looks like she has it all together? She still has meltdowns behind closed doors.
We all start out wobbly. The question is, will we keep practicing, keep growing, keep pushing through? And honestly, we are all still a bit wobbly no matter how successful or “put-together” someone appears. We just keep going round and round and round, getting a little bit more steady as we go.
Whatever it is that has you a bit wobbly, looking for your balance, sore, tired, feeling unsure – keep at it. Find a coach, a mentor, a support group. Practice. Keep practicing. Don’t give up.
We all start like this.Learning something new? Everyone starts wobbly.