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Finding your wings...

...might involve asking for a little help

There are more ways than one in which to fly. Consider the Condor...

...or the Hummingbird....

It doesn't occur to either of them that they cannot fly...though perhaps neither would believe it if they had only the other for example.

In J M Barrie's truly fabulous tale, Peter Pan could fly. It wasn't a super-power; he wasn't a super-hero. In fact, in many ways he was just another lost boy, but he could fly. When newcomers came into his world, he told them: “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”

I don't hold with that "forever" part of it...nothing is "forever", everything changes all of the time. If you've ever nurtured a rescue dog, you will know that the adage about old dogs and new tricks is rubbish. We can all learn new things. And if we can learn new ones, we can re-learn old ones.

Peter Pan was right about one thing though: self-doubt is the stalker and wounder of ability.

High-wire walkers will tell you the same thing. Ask anyone to walk in a very straight line, perfectly balanced, along a very narrow line drawn on the ground and the vast majority of people can do so without a second's thought. Raise that line a few inches of the ground and it becomes a different matter. String it across the Grand Canyon or between the Twin Towers (as was) and it becomes madness. It is all about belief.

So it is with work, and study, and sport, and life. We all have so many things not tried or not achieved - not because we believed we couldn't but because we doubted that we could.

That doesn't mean that self-belief is enough. It might have worked for Peter Pan, but if I remember the story correctly Tinkerbell also needed the belief of others.

So the first step is to truly believe that you can fly. Don't doubt it. Trust in your training, in your skills, in your in-born talent, in the fact that you will bounce if you hit ground, whatever it takes: believe in you.

If you don't…why would anyone else?

Then – seek out the other people willing to believe in you. Don't wait until you're wounded and dying like Tinkerbell, do it now: ask them if they believe…ask them to clap their hands. Louder. Go on – be brave – ask for the help you need.

Brave? Yes, you will have to be brave…asking for help is hard. Somewhere along the line we have lost the natural social instinct to simply say, you're better at this bit than me, can you help, to own up to not knowing how, can you help, to admit I think I can do this but I'm nervous & a tiny bit scared, can you help?

We've also lost the ability to take it on the chin if they say no.

Sometimes, it's a sorry, no I can't.

Sometimes, it's a simple, no I won't.

Sometimes, it’s a cowardly deafening silence.

Either way, that 'no' tells you something about them and nothing about you…but it seems we've twisted that. When we ask for help and it is denied, that fuels our self-doubt even further. We think ourselves fools for having even asked; consider ourselves unworthy of the help that someone was unwilling or unable to give.

I know. I've been there.

But consider this…

Have you ever been to that staple of the English Christmas calendar: the Pantomime? Have you ever watched a stage production of Peter Pan? If so, you will know that when the audience is asked if they believe in fairies, if they are willing to clap and cheer for Tinkerbell – not everyone does.

Some are probably just being "too English" and are slightly embarrassed at joining in – even though the Panto is the one place where it really is de rigueur to join in. Perhaps the fact that we need a French expression for that concept tells it all.

Others are making a point – that, sorry, no they don't believe in fairies. Honestly! What kind of example is that to set our children?

Me? I was brought up on the communal experience of pantomime…and I do believe in fairies.

The first point is simple: not everyone will help.

The second one is: if you don't ask, no-one will.

Keep asking. Remember a 'no' is not about you or your idea; is merely about their ability or willingness to help.

Obviously, if the no comes with reasons, then a reality check might not be a bad idea. If they're saying your take-off trajectory needs adjustment, or your landing gear could be more robust – that doesn't mean they don't believe you can fly. This might actually be the very help that you are asking for, if you're prepared to see it in that light.

Ultimately though all the hard work & focus, will come to nothing if you don't trust and believe in yourself…and once you're there, once you really believe in yourself, asking others to believe isn't all that hard.

And someone will absolutely, definitely, say YES!

© Lesley Mason

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