Throwing your hat over the fence

(From 2005, during the Maui Writer’s Workshop)

Tananarive just finished giving the keynote address for the second half of the conference. She was, (of course) beautiful and brilliant and inspiring, but one of the things she stressed is the need to throw your intentions in front of you: “throwing your hat over the fence.” What does this mean? The ability to commit on the basis of faith alone, which is an ability that is rare and precious, although we are all forced to do it from time to time. Marriage is like that. Traveling to a strange place is like that. Taking a new job is like that. And beginning a career in the arts is very very much like that.

How can you do this? How is it possible to take such risk? You must start with the ability to trust yourself, to believe that within you is the ability, the seed of the capacity to bring your dreams into existence. YOU MUST BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. Even if you don’t know what your future will look like, or feel like, if you can imagine the first step in your process, you’ll be way ahead of the game. The world belongs to those who can take positive steps, and if you let fear freeze you, you just can’t do it. Every great person you have ever known of had this capacity, and the cultivation of it can be a major step along the road.
1) Visualize the end step of the goal process. What would success look and feel like? How would you stand? How would your voice sound? What would the expression on your face be?
2) Think back over your life, remembering all of the things you have learned up until this moment. In many cases, that learning was surrounded by failures. Remember that you did not let those failures stop you… and ask yourself what resources you used to move through the fear.
3) Study the lives of successful people, seeking the moments when failure threatened to cripple them. How did they make it through? What was the price they paid for their success?

There is a way to your dreams. True, the path is littered with the bones of the fallen, but there is no reason why you can’t be one of the success stories. Just make the declaration that you are going to become the person you were meant to be, in body, mind and spirit. Ignore the negative voices in your mind. Just throw your hat over the fence.

– Steve Barnes,



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