In the very early hours of yesterday morning, I had a rather long exchange of tweets with a colleague that I have come to greatly respect over the last few years. This individual is someone that I likely would have never met if it were not for the power of Twitter. Yet, over time we have grown to know each other more closely and have developed a mutual respect for one another through regular tweets, occasional Skype calls and some face-to-face discussions.
Our pre-dawn Twitter exchange went on for more than an hour, primarily via DM’s. It started easily enough, with comments about a recent Blog post that my colleague had referenced and our discussion grew from there. Part way through our series of 140 character messages, I came to fully recognize something incredibly powerful. I suddenly understood that this person and I shared a very real connection with one another. A connection that could not yet be fully defined; but that was actually far more powerful than what was happening within our 140 character moments. After mutually acknowledging this, it became obvious that our relationship was on a new level and that it meant something fairly significant to each of us. We eventually moved on to have an in depth Skype conversation to discuss and begin to understand what was unfolding between us.
Now if you have ever read Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, you will know exactly what I am talking about when I tell you that in this early morning exchange, I came to recognize that I had found a true “Kindred Spirit” in my colleague.
Kindred Spirits are two people that make a special connection by sharing a bond that has joined them by the means of an experience that has drawn them together on a higher level of consciousness. This connection can be from the same experience at the same time or two separate experiences similar in nature. Source – Urban Dictionary
While in my heart I felt the beauty of what we had mutually discovered, in my head I also immediately began to sense danger. I actually recognized that I was fearful. Part of me began to tell myself that I should quickly retreat from this newfound relationship before it was too late. I even began to put up roadblocks in the discussion that I was having with my colleague. Truth be told, what really happened is that I felt myself begin to “flinch”; something that Julien Smith recently wrote about in his new ebook entitled The Flinch.
To flinch is to draw back or shrink, as from what is dangerous, difficult or unpleasant. It is also to shrink under pain; to wince.
Now you are probably wondering how it is that I could discover a “Kindred Spirit” and also “flinch” all in the exact same moment. Let me tell you, it is possible. It is more than possible. Here is what happened. I immediately realized that I had been in this place before and that in the past I had been hurt. In fact, my memory urgently reminded me that I had actually been severely burned on more than one occasion. Having been an entrepreneur my whole life, it is fair to say I have learned to take a lot of risks. Many of those I have won and they have paid off significantly; but there have also been more than a few that I have lost. (No real surprise there right?) The reality is that while the majority of my business relationships have gone (and continue to go) exceptionally positively, there have also been a few that have crashed and burned sometimes with fiery results. On more than one occasion, I have nearly been taken out of the game or have experienced a very significant setback.
As I have thought further about what transpired yesterday morning, I have come to recognize a critical truth. I will always remember being burned by some of my past situations. Who wouldn’t? However, if I let those few experiences haunt me enough, eventually I will expect that something bad may well be coming in every new relationship or opportunity that presents itself. That is exactly what started to happen. I began to retreat in the face of risk. I let the past get in the way of the future. I flinched and for a brief moment I almost let the flinch win.
In The Flinch, Julien writes:
Train yourself to flinch forward, and your world changes radically. You respond to challenges by pushing ahead instead of shrinking back. You become bigger instead of smaller; you’re more stable and confident. Your world becomes a series of obstacles to overcome, instead of attacks you have to defend yourself from.
You go on offense instead of defense. You can change the world again, instead of protecting yourself from it.
Luckily, I caught this particular flinch just in time. I recognized it for what it was and I pushed right through it, rather than giving into it. I took control. I chose to own the situation and learn from it. As a result, I am thankful for the wonderful new “Kindred Spirit” who is now in my life and I am more than open to what that may mean for the future. I have also been reminded that I can and will survive whatever comes my way – both the good and the challenging. By choosing to accept risk, I have simultaneously created opportunities for the future.
So guess what? Fear did not win. The flinch did not win. I am still in the game and will continue to work toward making the world a much better place.