One morning I heard about a book called The Flinch by Julian Smith. Everything inside me said I needed to get this book NOW and start to read it — why hadn’t I don’t it already? So I followed the little voice and got the book. I started reading it on my lunch hour. I really wanted to finish it in that time but only made it about 19% through, mostly because I stopped to really think about a few things in my life.
Instead of telling you about The Flinch, I’ll let you go read about it on Amazon. It’s free right now, so I highly suggest you read it on your Kindle if you have one or get a Kindle app to read it. The link is not an affiliate link. I’m promoting the book purely because I think it’s worth it (even though I haven’t finished the book yet) and even though the book itself is free, the information I have found to be priceless and I want to share.
But I would like to share a flinch moment with you. When I was growing up, I loved to swim (I still do, but I don’t go nearly as often as I use to). I was on the swim team for many years, eventually got a gold metal in the 400 meter butterfly (that was 8 laps in our pool and about 4 laps in an Olympic size pool). Now, there was one pool no one liked going to, but since we only 3 towns in our little swim team district, we spent 1/3 of our meets at this pool. It was cold! Just thinking about it makes me shiver. Even when they said (and they lied!!!) they had the heater fixed in their pool, it was cold. No one wanted to take their warm-up laps because, well, you never felt like you warmed up. Just turned into a Popsicle instead. Seriously, getting up onto the starting blocks before a race was pure torture. You knew your muscles would cramp the second you hit the water. Not to mention the feeling of your breath being kicked right out of your lungs.
But the point is that you knew if you wanted to race, you had to get in there and swim. You had to endure the flinch and the anticipation of it.
I am often fond of thinking that I am use to jumping in and swimming when referring to learning something new or trying something different. Even this last weekend, I thought I was pushing my comfort zone. But, the truth is that I wasn’t making any great leaps. I wasn’t really pushing myself. I was jumping into my hometown swimming pool, so to speak. I never had to endure the flinch, not like I did when I was getting on the starting blocks when I was 14 and knowing I was about to jump into water barely above freezing. I have become comfortable and only willing to take little risks.
There is a question near the beginning of the book that asks a question something like if your younger self was to see your older self now, would the younger you be proud of what you’ve done or embarrassed? I had to admit that it was half and half. On the one hand, I have lived through things I hoped would never happen to me, which when I was 14 I had hoped would be impossible. Of course, this would feel like more of an accomplishment if I’d been the initiator of events instead of just having to deal with the fallout. I still want my points for surviving and not letting myself fall into victim mentality though. But yes, the part of me which would face the cold water with a sense of anticipation because I knew everyone else had to deal with it too would be ashamed of me for not having more gusto for life and accomplishing my dreams. She would wonder where I lost my vision along the way and let things become so unclear.
As Seth Godin said in a recent blog, “We’d like to romanticize our problems as unique, as the one and only perfectly difficult situation….” It’s the flinch at work.
But now I see the flinch in my own life and realize how comfortable I’ve let it make me, so now I hope I can pull things into focus. I’m ready to dive in and swim now.