Trust yourself, trust your ideas: How to move forward

“What advice would you give your teenage self, as you were about to graduate from high school?”

I’m used to hearing this question asked of “your 30-year-old self,” trust is the only way to move forwardbut in this case my questioner was only 16. She was looking for advice she could use now. So I told her:

“Trust yourself.”

That’s actually the same advice I would give myself today. (I’m working on being smart enough to take it.)

Master speaking coach Victoria Labalme offers much the same advice in her TEDx talk:

“Trust the idea that leads to the idea.”

I love this. It acknowledges that not every idea we have will end up being worth pursuing. But every idea has the potential to lead us to another idea, and another, and eventually we’ll hit on one that resonates. All we need to do is trust in the process.

Trust -> Risk -> Move (Repeat)

Just about everything we do involves risk. But if we thought about it that way, we’d probably never get out of bed. (That has risks too, especially if you have a dog waiting for you to open the front door.)

Labalme encourages us to recognize that although we may feel unsteady, we have the capacity to move into the world “heart open” and do something we cannot do with the covers pulled over our heads: Live full and fulfilling lives. All we have to do (No, that really deserves quotation marks.) “All” we have to do is trust that the choices we make in the course of that living will lead us to wherever we need to go.


No, of course it’s not simple. Not when every moment, every thought, every action provides an opportunity to second-guess ourselves.

So as new year approaches, I’m working to embrace the choices I’ve made. You might like to try that too; you never know where it will lead.

And since I’m a writer, I invite you to celebrate and embrace the writing you do. It may only be 15 minutes a day—as the folks working with me in Jumpstart 2017: The 5×15 Writing Challenge have committed to. (Today’s their first day; give them a virtual high five.)

The first draft might be rough, but that’s the job of a first draft. The idea might not be exactly right, maybe the perspective is off. Maybe all it needs is a little adjustment. Or maybe—and you can decide this after you set it aside for a day or two and return with fresh eyes—maybe it really isn’t a great idea. But maybe, as Victoria Labalme suggests, this idea will lead you to a great idea. All you need to do is keep following the breadcrumbs. Whether you like what you write or you hate it: Keep doing it.

And enjoy the journey. At least you’re moving. Which is, my scientist friends will confirm, the only way to go forward.