A Shot of Confidence

Want a shot of confidence?

Start something. A conversation. A plan. A letter.

A start puts something into the world that didn’t exist before. And that’s a powerful thing to do.

Starts can be daunting and destabilizing. It’s scary to interrupt our known world.

But we are powerful creatures. We can handle all of the above.

We just can’t get scared out of starting.

First, Victor Hugo was a writer. But over the course of his 83-year life, the author made some 4,000 drawings. In Shadows of a Hand, Mr. Hugo’s son, Charles, is quoted as saying that the man who penned Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame would begin a drawing with…

“…not the landscape as a whole, but any old detail. He will begin his forest with the branch of a tree, his town with a gable, his gable with a weathervane, and little by little, the entire composition will emerge from the blank paper.”

If we set about to do the whole landscape, we can get scared to the point of never starting.

But if we start with a branch, a weathervane, the entire composition may emerge little by little from the blank paper.

Of course, there are no guarantees.

We can start and it might not succeed. And we will lose some skin off our back.

But there is one guarantee.

If we never start, we lose our backbone. We lose a chance to see what powerful creatures we can be in an unknown world.

So start. Put something that doesn’t exist out into the world.

And trust what Ernest Hemingway told George Plimpton in 1958:

“As long as you can start, you are all right. The juice will come.”

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