One morning, as a novice runner, I noticed a habit: I tended to stop before the end. So, if my goal was to run up to a certain point–a street lamp, a corner, a bus-stop–, I started walking four or five steps before actually reaching that spot. Was it because I was too tired to run four or five more steps? No. It was because I told myself I was already there–but I wasn’t.
I’d let this behavior slip into other aspects of my life and now that I was aware, I reckoned how bad the consequences had been. At times, I’d even avoided starting for the fear of not being able to finish. Or for the fear that no one would care about what I wrote, I wouldn’t get that grant, or I wouldn’t hear back from a hiring manager.
Research has shown that most women apply for jobs only when they’re certain they fulfill 100% of the requirements–while men do it when they meet just about 60%. What that means is that most women don’t even try because they assume they won’t be able to get the job, the promotion, or the raise.
And they assume that ‘no’ equals failure, and that failure is a permanent state.
A dear friend of mine, executive and career coach Neptali Martinez, asked me once, “You want to go to a certain place and you decide to ride your bike to get there. What do you do if you find a big fallen tree blocking your way? Do you just turn around and drop your goal of getting to where you wanted to go?”
How many times have you reset your goals or dropped out because you assumed you wouldn’t be able to get to where you wanted to be? Difficult doesn’t mean impossible. You just have to keep going.
The path to success is convoluted and requires sustained effort, grit, and determination. You won’t know what happens unless you try until the very end of the way. Not being able once doesn’t mean you’ll never be able. Failing once (or nine times, or 100) doesn’t mean you’ll always fail.
You may think you’re there because you see the shut door from a four- or five-step distance. But you don’t know what could happen if you got close enough to knock on it.
Someone may let you in. Or you may see a very tiny sign that reads, “It’s open.”