I love watching very young kids learning to walk.
They try to get up. Once… Twice… They lose their balance, fall and try again. You can see their small, still chubby legs shivering as they take a breath before trying to reach what’s they’re aiming for.
Whatever the goal, the scariest thing is not to do the first step and fall once again. The scariest thing is to cross the void.
Toddlers don’t see the world the way we do. When they’re facing the open world on their stroller, when they’re looking at the other side of the living room, they’re actually facing the void.
You probably don’t remember it, but your first steps, your first trip in the house were not about defying gravity. It was about crossing the void.
Imagine yourself as an adult starting a journey from the Earth to the moon, alone, without a shuttle or a even a space suit to separate you from the void. Scary, isn’t it? That’s what it’s all about.
Every new project, every new venture is about starting a journey across the void. All alone.
Lots of people will be looking at you. They will be your family, your friends, your cofounders, former colleagues. They will look at you doing that first step and starting to cross the void. Alone.
Some of them will wait to see how far you can safely go before joining you, but most of them will expect you to fail, to fail hard because they’re too scared to cross the void and envy that first step you just did. Some of them, the wisest and most clever ones, will even try to prevent you from starting that journey because of fear. Don’t listen to them. they’re actually more scared for them than they fear for you.
On your journey through the void, you’ll meet many people. Some of them have already walked that path, and you’ll stop together for a while, the time for you to tell your tale. Some of them are exactly at the same point you are and you’ll walk together, at least for a while. Some of them will be on their way back because they failed, and they will try to convince you it’s the only way. And you’ll realize the void is deeper and scarier than ever.
To cross the void, you’ll have to burn bridges. Some of them will be easy to leave, some of them will cost you a lot. You’ll have to cut links and bounds but you’ll probably surprise yourself how easy it will be, most of the time.
13 years ago, I decided to start such a journey. I left my school and my studies, broke with my girlfriend (we eventually got married years after), cut every link I had with my friends and almost forgot I had a family. I’ll remember all my life when my mom opened the door of my all new flat she just helped me to move into:
It’s done. Now you’re gone, and there’s no way back to the house where you grew up.
One day, you’ll reach the end of your journey. Whatever the success or the failure, you’ll realize it doesn’t really matter. That day, you’ll look behind you and you’ll see all the void you’ve crossed, all the path you’ve walked, everything you just learnt that made you someone else. And like the toddler who just crossed the living room, you’ll be proud and you’ll smile at your mom, your dad, at whoever will be there that day.
But first, do that first step and dive into the void.