Do you know that something in your life needs to change, but you either don’t know how to start or where to start , or you are too afraid of where starting may take you? In attempting an answer, I turn to David Whyte. This time from the opening stanza of his poem, Start Close In


Start close in,

don’t take the second step

or the third,

start with the first


close in,

the step

you don’t want to take.

 Starting close in makes sense. Starting in with the step you don’t want to take … That’s more difficult. I wonder if it is the step we don’t want to take, or the one we want to take, but are too afraid?

Once, years ago, I sat  next to a rock face from which people plunged into cold, clear water. I had no desire to go in in, but my cousin’s twelve-year-old son and his friend had asked me to stay with them once his eight-year-old sister and the rest of the family who had made the dive had left. We waited for three hours, with the boys peering in, even positioning themselves in the diving stance, and then stepping back with a shiver. That continued until dusk. Then I said, ” If you don’t jump that will be fine. I do believe, though, that you can do it. ” One of the boys took a deep breath and moved closer. The other edged closer too. Before I knew it, they were over the edge and in, shouting and kicking the water, circling wildly like over-excited seals.

Standing at the edge, peering in, they were frightened boys. Emerging from the water,  they were re-born. They had felt a fear, faced it, and made the leap. This would give them the courage to take the next risk which lay before them on their journey to manhood. There would be many more – but they had taken the first step; the first plunge.

What is the first step you want to take? What do you gain by not taking it, and what may you lose if you don’t? I don’t know whether it is right for you, or will be worth it; but you do. I wish you much courage on your journey, which starts with the first step.

And now, the rest of David Whyte’s poem:

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way of starting
the conversation.

Start with your own
give up on other
people’s questions,
don’t let them
smother something

To find
another’s voice,
your own voice,
wait until
that voice
becomes a
private ear
to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don’t follow
someone else’s
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don’t mistake
that other
for your own.

Start close in,
don’t take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

re-posted by Juliette Jooste Gyure, career, life and leadership coach.