Your Cheerleaders

Go, go, go!

Summer breeze fanning my face. In the middle of the Šumava mountains, on my bike I’m climbing a hill that shows itself perhaps a bit too steep. When I am around 2/3 of the way up, I realize that it’s getting even steeper. It doesn’t happen to me very often – but I’m considering getting off the saddle and pushing the bike up the rest of the hill while on my feet. But I decide to press on at least for a moment.

I’m not alone. Around me there are quite a few hikers walking up and down. Parents with children, couples. They have it so easy. I’m breathing loudly and my face is getting red.

Then a surprise: “Go, go, go, you can do it!”, I hear someone shouting. I look up, suspecting mockery. But the face of the man that’s standing there with his two kids shows genuine interest. “Go, go, go!”, the kids join him.

Ten meters ahead, there’s another group watching my ascent. Those are just quietly nodding their heads.

Can I throw in the towel now?

Unthinkable. I can’t let my cheerleaders down.

Even when the hill gets steeper still, I dig out last remains of strength in my thighs and increase the frequency of pedalling. 30 more meters. I hear some more cheers from behind. “Almost there!”, a fit lady in her fifties shouted. Ten meters – five – two…

When I reach the top, I jump off my bike, lean on it and try to catch my breath.

Then something even more unexpected happens – applause! A little applause for the sportsman! I have to laugh and thank them for their support. Of course it feels a bit funny (just so that you know, the hill wasn’t THAT steep). But it also feels great. Encouragement. Energy boost. Satisfaction.

Don’t worry – this unexpected episode didn’t make me believe I’m a superstar biker (I’m rather average). But it made me think about something else – why did those people stop walking to cheer me?

We’re scared to share our goals

When someone strives for something big, there is a story. We’re curious: Will she manage to get what she wants, or will she not?

How about you? Maybe you’re dreaming of becoming a famous science-fiction writer, maybe you’d like to start an educational agency for orphaned children, or maybe you’d just like to get that foreign assignment in Mauritius (if you’re from Mauritius, insert the name of your favorite exotic place here instead – Bratislava perhaps?).

When I was 15, I saw that the ice-skating rink was the place where the boys could talk to the girls (I admit, my view of interactions between boys and girls was rather limited then). I decided it was time to learn how to skate.

What I was terrified of was that someone would see me trying – and failing. I was so paranoid that for a whole year I didn’t go to any skate-rink in Prague. I only went ice-skating when visiting my mom in a city 50 kilometers away from my hometown. I didn’t want anyone to see me struggle – or fail.

Sounds familiar?

People may have big goals, but they’re scared to share them. Because they’re afraid that someone could laugh at them if they failed. Big job interview? They would say: “Not a big deal, really. I’m going there just to see what the company looks like.” A public speaking competition? “I don’t really want to win, I just want to give this little speech of mine, it’s not that good.” Starting a speed-dating agency? “I’m doing it just to keep myself busy.”

We are terrified of failing to meet other people’s – and our own – expectations. So we set them low.

But let me tell you something.

We’re shooting ourselves in the foot.

Be our hero

We, the ordinary people, love to see heroes striving to achieve big, remarkable things. Even better, we want to become part of their story.

When you see a hero in a movie get a beating – do you think – “oh, what a loser”?

I guess not.

It’s rather something like: “I hope he gets up soon, recovers and kicks the butts of the bad guys the next time!”

You know what? It’s the same when YOU are the hero. When you’re aiming at something big, we want to support you. Okay, maybe we want to watch you struggle – but we want to see you succeed in the end. Because then we’ll be able to tell everyone: “See, and I knew this girl BEFORE she was the most famous chef in Prague. I actually helped her a bit.”

A friend of mine, Ales, has recently quit his office job to become a business coach. But not only that, he’s working on a model that is supposed to change business coaching in the Czech Republic. Every day I see some updates on his activities on Facebook.

Indeed, quite a few of his friends are mocking him – saying that his dreams are unrealistic, that he’s too young to be a good coach, and that coaching is meaningless anyway. Ales is persistent and keeps writing updates and blog posts about his business, appreciating those who support him and explaining to those who express disagreement.

I’m not a blind-supporter – but I’m really curious how it works out. Will my friend Ales be the guy that changed business coaching in the Czech Republic? I hope so – I’d love to have a super-star friend!

Next time: Tell us!

On that summer day in the Šumava mountains, a bunch of random people cheered me in my climb. I hated that they saw me struggle – but it was their support that pushed me further when I wanted to give up.

The next time you’ll strive for something big – tell the world about it. You’ll be surprised how many people will be ready to support you along the way.

We want to be your cheerleaders.


Featured image by Martin Fisch, taken from Flickr, under Creative Commons licence. Brightness of the image adjusted.


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