I used to think that there was an “it” to figure out, that one day everything would snap into place and make sense. I’d know my purpose and exactly how to fulfill it.

In search of that, I’d dip a toe, or maybe a calf, into something new, and then move on when it wasn’t perfect. I was committed, but there was always a part of me that held back. At the time, I wasn’t even aware that I was shielding myself, but it’s clear as day looking back. I wanted the certainty first.

Somewhere in the last couple of months, I’ve realized that it’s not likely to happen that way. But I’m not the least bit disappointed.

I’m learning about myself inch by inch, understanding that I needed to keep digging in the same place long enough. I’ve even learned to embrace the pain when it appears, noting that it’s often a false alarm or a signal to what I’m passionate about.

A book I read this week even gave me a name for what used to stop me every time: the flinch. Whatever form it takes, the flinch is there to support the status quo. It whispers in your ear so you’ll dismiss a good idea that requires a lot of change.

This line in particular reached out and grabbed me. It’s about how to determine when the fear you feel is fake.

You’ll know you’ve opened the right door when you feel a strong, irresistible impulse to do something else, anything else. This usually means that you’re right at the threshold of something important, and you need to pay attention and keep going – now.

I have a few projects that definitely fall into this category – one in particular. I’ll creep up to the line, only to let distraction or perceived fatigue get the best of me. I’ve done this multiple times over the last three years, but I never connected the dots. As Steve Jobs told us, you can only connect them looking backwards. At the brink, I flinched. Every. Single. Time.

Today, I have a name for my opponent, and a new attitude. I’m committed to gaining ground inch by inch, leaning in at the flinch.


If there’s a great work inside of you that hasn’t been birthed yet, read The Flinch by Julien Smith. He’s discovered the roadmap for doing the best work of your life.