My intention for this post was to chronicle my first (delicious! mouthwatering! miraculous!) attempt at homemade bread.

There’s something deeply appealing about the beginnings of a yeasty dough, so alive and full of promise. I love the feel of supple and pliable dough as I coax it to life, on its way to becoming something that can sustain me and ease my hunger.

It’s kind of romantic.

As the bread baked in the oven, my tiny city kitchen smelled like a French bakery. And the finished product looked awesomely beautiful.

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And yet, it was a disaster.

The yeast never properly bloomed with life, the dough felt too dry, and the fully baked bread was so dense and heavy I could have done bicep curls with it. The recipe proclaimed it foolproof. I proclaim it a recipe of lies.

But, of course, I will try again. When I am passionate about learning something new, I give it a laser-like focus, repeating it over and over again until I can do it with my eyes closed.

I tried to remember this as my colleagues and I went through a course on effectively communicating this week. Public speaking is far out of my comfort zone, but I viewed it as a challenge to simply surrender to feeling vulnerable. Given a number of exercises to practice in front of each other, we were videotaped so we could see what we looked and sounded like. It felt uncomfortable and strange and occasionally mortifying, and now I’m hyperaware of every “umm” and “like” and “and so” that fills my nervous speech.

But.

Without the attempt, without the repeating of the thing that makes you uncomfortable again and again, progress will not take its rightful place in your life. The effort—allowing yourself to begin somewhere—is an act of courage. It takes nerve to dig in and to try when every flaw is on display for you to see, but on the other side of the imperfection is growth.

Just like yeast needs to be fed water and sugar in order to bloom, we must be fortified with bravery and daring and guts to go out into the world and have a go at the things that feel awkward and scary. We have to be willing to be bad at something in order to be great at it.

I now not only have more tools to effectively deliver a client presentation, I am armed to better communicate with people in my life. I am not perfect, but I am perfectly me, a person striving to be better than I was yesterday.

And so…I try. I try. And I try again.

But first, I need to look for another bread recipe.

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