“Don’t do a handstand on that ledge.”
“Don’t apply to Stanford, you’ll never get in.”
“Don’t leave school to join the circus.”
But, you do it anyways.
Neigh-sayers unite against the unknown and the scary, unbeknown the opportunity and fun they are missing out on.
There are a variety of reasons you may be told not to do something.
The examples at the beginning of this post represent 3 of these reasons:
“Don’t do a handstand on that ledge,” is a, “for your own safety,” Do Not Do (DND)
Also part of this category are rules such as, “wear a helmet,” or, “don’t stick a metal object in an electrical outlet.” You’ll live a bit longer if you follow these DNDs, usually.
“Don’t apply to Stanford, you’ll never get in,” is a, “it’s threatening ME in some way,” DND. Somehow, your action and ambition offends another. Maybe it’s regret that they never chased their dream, or jealousy that someone else is brave enough to do so. Whatever the reason, these DNDs, once identified, can be ignored.
There’s a great piece relating to this by Dr. Kent M. Keith called, “The Paradoxical Commandments.” The full poem can be read here.
The third example, “don’t leave school to join the circus,” is an, “I’m afraid for you,” DND. These warnings are often coming from a place of love or care. They are considering your well-being through their own lens, and fear the unknown.
Consider the worst-case scenarios, then make a decision.
Here are 3 reasons to ignore a DNDs:
1. It’s a Chance to Grow
If you take a chance, you may fail. Consider failure a learning opportunity and suddenly your excuses are no longer justifiable. Try, fail, and try again.
2. The Positives Usually Outweigh the Negatives
If you succeed, what will you attain? Gain of knowledge, skill, whatever it may be, outweighs failure. Every. Time. Reread number 1.
3. You Don’t Want to Live With Regret
“What ifs,” plague us. The cure is action.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Author H. Jackson Brown, Jr.’s mother. (Though commonly attributed to Mark Twain)
This isn’t about “fighting the man,” or breaking rules for the sake of breaking rules. Some boundaries are in place for your safety, and a community’s well-being. But when something truly calls out to you, entertain the opportunity.
I’ll share a short story, but please do not try this at home. I’m a professional and have been doing this most of my life. I do not approve of this behavior.
One day off in Tokyo…
We were in a rush to beat the rain. The sky was turning all 50 shades of grey, and those fancy cameras aren’t waterproof.
Starting in Shibuya, Eno and I tore up Tokyo. In search of the tallest buildings, we hopped rooftops, entered back-doors, rode questionable elevators, all while peeking around the corner to make sure nobody was there.
This was one of the first shots. Nervous, uncomfortable. Those years of, “Dont’s” almost kept me from sitting on that corner… Almost. I’m not one to miss out on an Instagram opportunity.
Fumbling around at a few different locations, I was in what you could call, “a frame of mind adjustment period.” My thoughts were swinging on a pendulum from, “you are going to die,” to, “well, this is the coolest thing I’ve done in Japan so far.”
Sometimes, after struggling with mistakes and working through kinks, you break through a barrier. Something special happens. You succeed (In this case, the success was finding a location). However small the victory, it’s a win, and you worked for it.
It doesn’t mean that every attempt afterwards will be perfect, but you get a taste of what is possible. And boy, does it taste good.
These are the moments I live for.
The photos we captured are sprinkled around my website.
You can ride that success wave for a while, but it is important to stay realistic.
Ego can take over quickly. Overconfidence can lead to stupidity.
This was stupid (sorry mom). I came down from this handstand and had another breakthrough: this was one of those, “for your own safety,” Do Not Do’s.
The photographs turned out pretty cool, but I will never do that again.
Luckily most day-to-day choices have less-severe consequences.
This is my co-worker and good friend Oyuna. She is a professional contortion/hand-balancer. Find her Instagram here.
So do that thing you’ve been wanting to do… but leave the ledge-handstands to the pros.