I just made cheese for the first time.
Short of milking the cow myself, I prepared and formed a wheel of the delicious dairy indulgence completely from scratch, and as I write this it’s sitting in my fridge wrapped in a delicate sheet of cheesecloth, setting.
Will it be good? Who knows. Check back with me in eight hours and I’ll give you an update.
But I do know that as I rode the highs (ohh, so that’s what whey is!) and lows (oh $%&!, I’m about to burn down my kitchen) of doing something unfamiliar for the first time, I couldn’t help but feel like it was something everyone should do more often.
I’m not talking specifically about making cheese—though it’s certainly a great thing to add to your culinary bucket list—but about throwing yourself into something completely foreign with no idea of how it might turn out. It was fun, exhilarating and educational, and it has a lot of parallels to being an entrepreneur.
It Builds Your Confidence In A Way Few Things Can
To try something new, you must first make yourself vulnerable.
Admitting you know nothing is a humbling experience, whether the topic at hand is cheesemaking or manufacturing or international finance. Putting yourself there at square one is the first critical step.
Remember, it’s where everyone started. At one point, Emeril Lagasse had to learn to use a set of measuring cups and Warren Buffett heard the words ‘compound interest’ for the first time. Pretty crazy when you think of it that way, isn’t it?
Anyway, when you’re coming from a place of such inexperience, every little victory feels so much more meaningful. When you do the same thing day in and day out, it’s easy to lose sight of those small wins, but they build confidence in a way few things can.
Successfully navigating uncharted territory feels amazing, and it leaves you feeling ready to take on more and bigger challenges.
It Helps You Deal With Defeat
The next few hours will tell if my cheesemaking venture turns out to be a tasty success or a sticky, soupy failure.
If it’s the latter, I can’t say I’ll be too heartbroken. It was my first time, after all, and I made a few mistakes I’d now handle differently if I gave it another go *cough* walking away from the stove while the milk was boiling *cough*.
When you’re trying something new, defeat is hardly a surprise. It’s almost expected, and it stings a whole lot less than when you fail at something you’re supposed to be really good at.
We can learn a lot from our own resilience in the face of minor defeat. If my cheese is bad, will I give up on cooking completely, banishing the saucepans from my kitchen forevermore?
Unlikely. Instead I’ll calmly take my mistakes as lessons learned, and move on with an eagerness to get it right the second (or third, or tenth) time around.
Why should our larger, more painful defeats be handled any differently? If it’s something we really care about achieving, we should take the setbacks in stride and move forward to try again in the same undeterred manner.
It's Food For The Body And Mind
Trying new things is a blast! It’s why traveling to a foreign country is thrilling and hearing an amazing new song can give you chills. It’s the mental equivalent of a shot of espresso.
Doing something new and unfamiliar gets you out of your comfort zone, which is actually a defined space in your brain that’s perfectly primed for breakthroughs.
Having fun while doing something new also helps you let go of your inhibitions, which can be the source of creative roadblocks that are hindering your progress.
Want to double the impact of your new experience? Invite a friend or colleague along for the ride. Studies show sharing adventures with another person amplifies the experience and leads to a sense of shared meaning, which can promote a strong bond.
Finally, trying new things is good for your health. Research has shown people who engage in a wide range of experiences retain more positive emotions and minimize more of the negative ones that are ties to disorders like anxiety and depression.
Whether it’s trying that coffee shop that just opened, introducing a new product line or jumping out of a plane, new experiences make us stronger. They amplify our wins and can help us move on after defeats.
What’s something new you’ve been waiting to try?
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