Embrace the Thrash

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So, here’s the interesting thing about the early days of any visionary journey, there’s a whole lot of thrashing that goes on.

It needs to go on. But most visionaries don’t talk about that “dark” time. Because it’s not sexy. It doesn’t feel good or look good to others. Nor do the great creators tend to get any public attention until after the thrash yields a clear enough vision for them to become unwavering pulled toward a quest. The spotlight loves heroes and legends, not WTFs…

We feel bad when we’re in the thrash because all the luminaries we place on pedestals seem to have their stuff so together, seem to be so insanely focused on the one and only thing that matters. And dammit why can’t we be them? Thing is, those same people thrashed mightily before arriving in a place of mission. And they will again.

The thrash needs to happen. Hiding the conversation around this part of every visionary creator’s epic journey makes those currently in the thrash feel inadequate. You look at your heros and assume “they never thrashed, so what’s wrong with me?” Straight up fiction.

At some point in your journey, you’ve got to create a specific vision to hold in your mind and give you the intention and purpose, something for the Universe to respond to. But you also need to allow yourself the time to do a lot of tinkering, trying, experimenting and messing up in order to even get a sense of what the elements of a vision that is strong enough to fuel unwavering daily action are. And, here’s the scary part, that process can last for years.

The challenge while you’re in the the thrash is to understand:

  • There is great and necessary value in this process
  • Every great creator goes through it, and
  • Inaction is not an option

Thrashing is not about wallowing, it’s about acting, succeeding, failing, observing and adjusting, expecting a lot of things to not work and being okay with that, because it’s the only way to get to what will work. For you, for the problem you seek to solve, the delight you want to deliver and for those you seek to serve.

Instead of hiding it, embrace and exalt the process of trial, error, funk, success, stumble and grace. Own it, and ask for help. And do it with structure, intention, consistency and movement.

Failure is only failure when it doesn’t move you forward. Click to tweet

In the comments below, if you’re in the thrash now, stand up and claim it. Tell us what it’s about. Maybe someone in the tribe can help.

And if you’re on the other side, share how you got there?

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89 responses

89 responses to “Embrace the Thrash”

  1. Jon Giganti says:

    Jonathan – Great stuff….I’m so with you on this…it’s easy to put people on pedestals and think their success was easy…you don’t see the blood, sweat and tears that goes into delivering anything truly remarkable. Great lesson…thanks for sharing!


  2. Shelia says:

    Thank you, thank you. I so needed this – great way to start my Monday morning. I totally agree and even if some people don’t get what I’m doing or why I’m doing it – I am continuing on. I will find my way, my path, my voice – I know my mission. I look at you and others and realize you too walked in my shoes at one time – one day I can walk in yours.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      One day is today. And remember, the shoes you want to walk in are yours, not mine or anyone else. We’re all in this together.

      • Jonathan, this is an amazing read today thank you. Your comment earlier about ‘your shoes/my shoes’ – spot on. And so many of us get caught up in that on the bad days…my shoes don’t fit today (making myself laugh here)but so and so’s shoes look so glamorous…well, there was a day hers/his didn’t fit either.

        Sharing this with everyone! Thank you!

  3. Anne says:

    I certainly feel as if I am in the jaws of the thrash..:-) but my problem is that I feel paralysed by options. What should I try next? What should I do next? Would be interested to your views (and the views of other readers) as to how to do the following “And do it with structure, intention, consistency and movement.”. How do you know when you need to stop or when you are on the cusp of success (and you find yourself stopping 5 minutes before the miracle….). I wish people would talk more about this part of the process. On a related topic, I’m just reading Jack Kornfield’s “After the ecstacy, the laundry” which is about how so many great spiritual leaders still are prone to corruption/lapsing even after their 10 years spiritual ecstacy.. 🙂 . Wonderful post

    • Alixandrea says:

      I’m the same as Anne, not knowing where to turn or what to try next and geting all in a spin about it. The book you recommended sounds good Anne, might try reading that! 🙂

    • Eva Papp says:

      I resonate with this question, as it’s been my own so many times in my still-thrashing experience. How do I know when to stop, move forward, call it quits, etc., all of which I’ve done several times in this same, long thrash episode. I have always looked to get super quiet, and listen internally, try to get my intuition going so I can listen and respond. It has not always taken me where I think I should have gone, and since I’m still in the thrash, I can’t look back and say, “oh yeah, that turn right there was key to the success I have now.” In fact, I continue to be unsure of the turns, continue to listen and move, and have no idea where I’m ultimately going, except that I keep going, and keep going with vision. It’s strange. It’s also a process of building big faith, in my internal compass and in some force that’s pushing the whole thing forward. I don’t know, other than to say that this part is a big walk of faith. Glad this blog is here (thanks Jonathan) and this tribe, supporting each other as we stumble toward our true destinies.

    • meredith ryan says:

      i recently got out of the thrash, i suppose. after working for lunches & bus fare all summer for a former instructor, he offered me a paying gig (first time in 3 years). i’ve got chronic health problems, but i’ve dropped three dress sizes over the past 14 months & now none of my “bottoms” fit me. i still have a ways to go to be thrash free…i just get up in the morning and do the best i can for the day. i don’t have to accomplish great things; little victories a couple of times each week are great in & of themselves.

  4. Sigrid says:

    I’m revelling in the thrash and it’s been a long time coming. We’re in the midst of a pluto and uranus transit with is also a period of shedding followed by great transition. I’m completely embracing it and owning this time of shouting at fear relentlessly before my authentic self transpires. Thank you Jonathan for your insight. Peace

  5. Richard Posey says:

    I think that you’re better off is you don’t thrash too much in private. It can become endless funk. You said it at the end: own it and bring it out in the open.

  6. Al Smith says:

    Wow Jonathan. Thanks. Never quite heard it put like that. “Embrace the Thrash” Dam. I sure need to. Got in a rut with the whole “CARE” thing. Feels like nobody “Cares”. Ha. Life is happening all around. Financial and family issues. Man, its easy to just say F it, most days. Thanks for this, brother. I know “This too, shall pass”. keep on keepin on.

    I am going to read all that positve shit I wrote on my own site, as well as others. Today is a great day !

    Thanks again.


  7. Chet cromer says:

    I’m in the thrash, and wholeheartedly love this post. Intellectually I know there’s no such thing as an instant success, but it sure is easy to get caught up in the idea that success is going to happen “automatically” or at least without pain and suffering.

    There are times I enjoy the thrill ride of the thrash, other times I hate the funk, but what I truly desire is this greater overall sense of vision in my life, where it’s all put IN CONTEXT of something bigger than myself, but in a way where I truly do have a vital part to play.


  8. Amy Bourne says:

    It’s uncanny how every week your blog seems to touch on the exact position that I’m in at that moment. Thrashing. Who knew? I certainly prefer the term “thrashing” to my own thoughts of being insane for trying to achieve my mission. When I gain clarity on one thing, I seem to turn the corner into newfound murkiness. Reading your blog and seeing the comments of others in a similar place certainly helps me keep on keeping on. Thanks, Jonathan, et al.

  9. Nore says:

    I very much agree – count me in as a thrasher. I have been writing a novel now for 6 (!!!) years. I have had publisher interest, but after many substantive redrafts I realised I couldn’t ‘fix’ my book. So instead I threw it out and began again and am now writing the story behind the story, the real and true one, which is a lot more gutsy and difficult, but a infinitely more authentic, compelling and much better written. Sometimes this has involved months of blockages and doing ‘nothing’ – not knowing how or if I could ever move forward. I could have given up, in fact I almost did. But now I realise that all of this has been part of a process of me creating a much better novel that I KNOW will be published, even if I have to do so myself, and that at the very least that I have done my best job possible.

    I’m not there yet, I’m 50,000 words in and I have yet to pull it all together, but I won’t give up. I can’t. So what have I learnt this last six years? That the downs, the ‘failures’, the blocks, the down time, the loneliness of it all and the almost giving up ARE part of the process. I often look to quotes from other writers on how difficult the process is, to reassure myself that I am indeed, not alone. So thanks for bringing up this topic. Happy creating.

  10. Verna says:

    Thanks Jonathan.
    We all need to know that what looks easy from a distance , just like a rear view mirror
    Is not as it appears.
    I have been thrashing for two years trying to break from a life that is hurting me an it is hard to separate the good info from the bad. Meanwhile, all of us need to make a livingwhile we thrash, but that does not necessarily work, or occur.



  11. Tom says:

    Great post. I’m in the thrash. But the truth is, I kind of like it. I think that’s the best part about trying to make something from scratch. The internal battle you have to go through to do ANYTHING creative is seriously difficult – and I think anyone that hasn’t actually tried it won’t quite get why. But for those who HAVE tried, I think it gives a common perspective we all share – a quiet mutual respect for anyone who has tried to do something way outside the comfort zone.

    Keep up the good writing.

  12. RCONNORIII says:

    I do not believe you can be successful or learn without the thrashing – but you have to learn your lesson from it and move on. Have a great day on purpose!

  13. Steph says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    Going on 3 years of thrashing and sway back and forth each day between genius and crazy-THANK YOU for allowing me at least 5 minutes of feeling “normal” with your blog today.

    With gratitude,

  14. I didn’t expect the sheer panic that can hit sometimes but I give myself a hug and carry on from there. It’s crazy, isn’t it?

    Hugs to you Jonathan

  15. Nick B says:

    Thanks for sharing. I’m definitely in a thrashing phase of my life and its good to hear that its normal!

  16. John Marsh says:

    I’m in the thrash right now, as the business and banking environment continues to change many of the plans I have made no longer work. Tinkering and trying sometimes feels like failure as I try to find the way to deal with current issues, even the advice of my long time mentors seem to be irrelevant in this storm (I know they are not). I can find hope as I think back of all the trials I have made it through without understand how I could prevail at the time. Thank you for you HONEST and TRANSPARENT words you give as a gift to add value to others!

  17. Dawn Falcone says:

    Wow. This post came at the perfect time. I’m knee-deep in the thrash right now. I’m trying to move through it and not wallow in it for too long. It’s good to know that I’m not alone. Thrash on!

  18. Gayle says:

    I’m in the midst of the thrash and after reading through the other posts here, now I feel I’m among “friends.” Most of the times the thrash is a lonely place to be–family shirk you & call you crazy, friends abandon you or in my case no friends are around–but deep down inside, I know I have more to offer and the ability to offer it–its climbing the mountain of mistakes and unrewarded effort that needs to be done. This is my own journey that I need to take and it in itself is a success as I accepted the invitation of the Universe and leaped into it full force. I have often wondered if there are others that are experiencing or have experienced how negative and fruitless this place can be and after reading the other posts I can identify with each of them. Thank you again, Jonathan–your blogs are great!

  19. Great message. It’s like that thing Richard Branson said about achieving massive success — it’s only because he’s failed so many times.

    I’m in a semi-state of thrash right now, but it’s got me fired up and motivated to keep going for the gold in a big way, so I know it’s happening for a reason.

    My state of thrash looks like this: I’ve been doing freelance work for a few years, always moving forward to ramping it up to a full-time business that I can support myself well on, without having to work any part-time jobs to help pay the bills. That’s always been the goal and the vision.

    Finally, in July, I had enough client work to quit the last part-time job — woohoo! No more part-time jobs, this business is working! Except now, one of the clients I got seems to have inexplicably disappeared and doesn’t return emails or phone calls. So I have to replace that income ASAP or go back to part-time work. Obviously I don’t want to to do that. 🙂

    Now as a freelancer for a number of years, I know this kind of thing sometimes happens and you need to have other irons in the fire and potential clients in the pipeline. So out of fear of having to go back to working a job, a couple weeks ago I mapped out a plan for direct outreach to potential clients and have been working that plan. Having this happen really, and I mean really, lit a fire under me. I’m being way bolder than I’ve ever been about reaching out to people and making live contacts rather than simply hiding out and networking online.

    I almost feel like this recent part of my journey is like a kind of divine intervention — if not for getting the big client, I wouldn’t have been able to quit the part-time job, and if not for said client going away, I wouldn’t have gotten near as serious about getting up every single day and treating this business like a business and pursuing my passion to create something of value for myself that is uniquely mine.

    Holding that vision and setting my intention to make this work is getting me through this, for sure. I’ve been “tinkering, trying, experimenting and messing up” since I left my last full time job 4 years ago, so “thrashing” and I are on pretty intimate terms. 🙂

    I think the best thing to do in this phase is to look at the lessons its trying to teach you, or maybe even to see it as a test of your committment to reaching your goals. And as Al said above, “this too shall pass.”

  20. I think you said it best in pointing out that we look at successful people and put them in the spotlight after the thrashing…

    We live in a society of comparison and competition. We look at those people and feel like we should already be where they are now. We will probably never be exactly like them, we are NOT them. We can definitely learn from each other, but, grow our own crop, we do not all have the same soil.

    The thrashing process is what gives us our own personal experiences, illuminating our thoughts and strengths towards our goals. It gives us something to write about, ideas on creating something new, knowledge to share that no one else has experienced.

    If we woke up every morning and told ourselves, today I am going to experience some struggle, I will find a way to through it. Hey, you might end just looking forward to that thrashing, looking forward to find “that way”, it might end up being something no one has thought of:) You might find yourself having fun doing it:)

  21. Dawn says:

    Wow. I can’t thank you enough for making me realize that I’m not the only one going through this. When you are surrounded by people who just don’t get what you’re trying to do, you start to question your belief system.

    So, keep up the great work! A little inspiration can go a long way.

  22. Patty Lennon says:

    Love this! Just about to give a talk tonight on the power of owning where you are in your journey. Well I’m here. Thrashing. Launching my first conference momgetsabiz.com, in the midst of an intense growth period for my own business. Taking financial risks when I’m the only household income (hubs currently looking for work) and also wondering sometimes (like others who posted above) if I’m crazy.

  23. Carmelo says:

    What I came to realize, probably not all that long ago, is that we are absolutely no different than anyone else. Yet, because of timing, and really nothing else, we tend to “guru-ize” those in a different time zone (post thrash) and wonder why we’re so deficient and they’re so accomplished.

    They’ve simply emerged into their zone while we may still be in limbo (thrashing.) Here’s my belief, it’s not only necessary, it’s a beautiful journey, the thrashing.

    Yet, if we idolize the post thrash people and stack them up like a totem pole in a sort of immobilized worship we’ll stay stuck for years. Continuous self-correcting thrashing-action is what I found took me out of the funk of hero-worship. And wow, how liberating when you can shed yourself of that following mentality! 🙂

    Such a great post, Jonathan.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Exactly, Carmelo. There is, indeed, an unexpected grace in the thrash when you own its necessity, discover it’s purpose and create a different context for it. Challenge is, though, you’ve still gotta move forward. The opposite of beating yourself for being in the thrash is wallowing in it and refusing to ever leave out of fear of what comes next. It’s a delicate dance.

  24. Paul says:

    I absolutely agree The Thrash is part of the process. One thing I did recently was start a success/accountability group with 10-12 people who are all working on their own projects. We have our first meeting tomorrow evening but the goal is to help each other out. We have been communicating frequently via a private Facebook group since starting about 2-3 weeks ago and will meet in person every 2-4 weeks. Stay tuned…

  25. PK says:

    I call it mucking around in the swamp. It stinks, it sucks the energy out of you, and you’d rather be someplace else – but it’s a necessary part of getting to the other side. And you’re right – it’s a recurring experience – especially if you’re growing and changing along the way.

  26. This made my Monday. I try to be honest about the thrash, but when there’s money and brand and social capital on the table, I can feel people’s nervousness that “I don’t seem to know what I’m doing.” I DO know what I’m doing, but it’s challenge to communicate across audiences and stakeholder groups. Also, I don’t have a packaged product yet – just a mindset, a theory of change, and a tent I’m raising for others to come hang out under… Thank you for writing about the thrash this morning. I really needed it.

  27. Christian says:

    Great post Jonathan and clearly so timely for so many of us. You are so right, no one likes to talk about thrashing because most of us want to hurry up and get past the “bad” times in life because they feel awful. Like you said, it’s so necessary to go through it. I have been through a lot of change this past year and what has helped me, as corny as it sounds, is to be grateful every day. Like, out loud grateful every day for all of my experiences, the challenges and the joys. It helps.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Gratitude and reframing are essential parts of the Official Thrasher’s Toolbox. I lean on them every day, too.

  28. I’m 50 years old, and I’ve thrashed my way through a lot of learning and challenges over the years. I’ve been a business owner for twelve years now and I’m preparing to launch another venture soon. I’ll be running two businesses at once for the first time. The most difficult part about this is embracing, once again, the thrash. Good post!

  29. Sayward says:

    Great post, Jonathan! I’ve just been working through a Thrash, and the best way for me to ‘do the work’ is to write it. A book has come out of it, and is almost ready for market – amazingly, in just one month! It’s called “ESCAPE TO BLISS” – It’s all about the Thrash process and how I exited the other side of the turmoil intact and soaring! Hoping it can help others process their journey’s growth bumps, too.
    Keep up the Great Work!

  30. True Black says:

    Great post Jonathan.

    In innovation training, we talk all the time about the need to accept, even embrace ideas that are ultimately going to fail.

    All of the research into what works in the innovation process supports the idea that you’ve got to put up with the stuff that isn’t going to work in order to get to the really new and useful stuff.

    The biggest impediment to innovation is lack of humility. I think fear of failure is part of that. For many of us, that fear a form of arrogance.



  31. Kate says:

    This is so great. I think I’m finally coming out of a major part of this- but when I was trying to get clear and figure out my direction, there was a lot of ‘almost’ and then not feeling it, or being super inspired and then feeling nothing. It takes awhile to gain clarity! Especially if there are prevalent limiting beliefs about ourselves and our lives. I really appreciate you posting this and for the reminder that it is normal and happens more than once.

  32. Lynn Huffman says:

    Great post, Jonathan. Obviously very timely for many of us who are commenting. I’ve been thrashing for years – I’m ready for a break! 2006-2007: Decided to develop some property I owned into a high-end subdivision and started working in real estate! Have you gotten up off the floor from laughing yet? 🙂 Needless to say, many hundreds of thousands of dollars down the tubes later, that was a very expensive thrash. Now thrashing toward something that is more authentically me. BTW, I love your interviews on The Good Life Project. So cool.

  33. Jack says:

    Good share! I’m running my own company which I’ve been dreaming for. The road seems to be long long ahead. Lots of problems to deal with.
    Once the decision made, the problems is problems you just have to find a way. Keep up and wish everything goes well.

  34. Great topic, Jonathan! So many of us (myself included) grapple with this — and the comparing our insides to others outsides. My hand is raised. Yuck, what an icky feeling.

    I guess that I *could* say that I am in “the thrash” right now, but really, I am just becoming more aware of my mind & the truth & my purpose. And it feels “thrashy”(what a funny word!) but it is just uncomfortable because it is unknown, that’s all.

    PS Easy to write about it now, because my mind isn’t presently mugging me. 🙂

  35. Matt Haze says:

    First, LOVE the term “thrash!” Brilliant.

    Second, I’ve always debated whether if showing it publicly is good or bad thing. Showing confidence and a sense of knowing what you’re doing always seems to be key. Yet opening up and letting people see what actually goes on could help open doors.

    I’ve been reinventing myself over the last 4 years. I’m always trying new things and doing different things and I’m not afraid to show that. But being completely open and telling people what is actually going on is REALLY scary to me.

    Confidence goes a long way, yes. But is showing the questioning side a good thing for growing your brand? Especially when you’re in the entertainment biz like me?

  36. Denise says:

    My entire blog is about my “thrash.” I unashamedly lay it all out there. And you’re right it’s not sexy and people don’t always like it but it’s part of my journey and I embrace it. Thanks.

  37. Andrea says:

    Fantastic post! I’m totally in the thrash right now as I continue to build my yoga and Thai bodywork business in a very small, conservative community in rural MN. Shortly after jumping in feet first and incorporating my business last year, I found out I was pregnant (something completely wonderful yet completely surprising at age 45!!) My now absolutely delightful 3-month old is a huge bright spot for me but I’m struggling to find time and energy to keep up with the never-ending busy work of business building, not to mention the evenings teaching and practicing Thai bodywork. I’m tired! But, for some reason, that still quiet voice within is telling me to persevere in spite of the challenges because I know “this, too, shall pass”. I guess when something feels like it’s coming from your heart and soul, the thrash is a little easier to be patient with.

  38. Delisa says:

    I’m in the thrash I’ve been in it for a while. I just figured that there was some important puzzle piece that I kept missing. It made me feel terrible. I really need to hear what you were saying this morning.

  39. Mahala says:

    Interesting you call this the thrash, Jonathan. I hear you. I also know, for me, thrashing is what I do when I don’t give the vision the time it requires and try to force it into my own based-on-conjecture schedule. Case in point, I’d been whitewater thrashing around creating an extensive mindfulness meditation program. Was so sure it was taking way too long. Then, a week ago I *effortlessly* wrote an initial charter for an online meditation center.

    It reminds me of the meditation teaching that you have to wait for the mud of the mind to settle to be able to see into the clear pool of water wisdom.

    Of course, now I am thrashing with all the moving parts for making the program and the center live. I keep moving — structure, intention, consistency and movement. Love those words! — while making space for a clear pool.

  40. Jill Salahub says:

    Yes, thrashing it up, but feeling good about it. For about 20+ years, I was the Blob, immobile at the bottom of a dark pit, so this thrashing, while completely brutal at times, feels like such a gift–to be moving again! I just yell “parkour, parkour!” from time to time, or say “I meant to do that.” The thrash I am in is in part that I have (need?) the full-time job I’m currently working, the health insurance and spending money it provides, for now and until I can figure out “the other” and turn it into something that can allow for those same necessities. And that’s okay…for now. I am finding my thing, and even though I feel too busy and completely overwhelmed at times, I AM ALIVE.

  41. BZTAT says:

    Consider me a thrasher. I have a mission and focus, yet somedays I struggle with balancing what I need to do to get ahead and what I need to do to get by today. Glad to see that I am in such good company and that I am not alone in the process. 🙂

  42. Hannah Ellie says:

    Thanks for another great article. I’m in the thrashing stage right now; writer/artist with a “day job”. No gallery yet (I thrashed about with technology – dying computers and marketing issues). I need an agent!

    My book will be published in the near future (I thrashed about chopping pages, then about merging two stories, then splitting them – back & forth. Then about the book cover and title – I don’t want it to be shelved somewhere inappropriate (so to put an end to that situation,there will be a recommendation on the back cover).

    I’m grateful for whatever support comes my way. From my experience and reading about others’ experiences, meditation and focus helps in any stage.

  43. Mike J says:

    Great discussion – one part I struggle with how to get to the point where the thrashing stops. I started a company once with a few other founders (high tech), and we had an existing product with a strong revenue stream from day 1. We raised a pile of money primarily based on the strength of the team, and then trashed for the next two years living off both the dying older product and the investment money, thrashing on big questions like what problems are we trying to solve.. Some of it was the personalities involved, some was lack of vision to begin with, but regardless we could not stop the thrashing and reach a single point of focus. Eventually we ran out of money and shut it down.

    So, if the thrashing gets overwhelming or unending to me its a sign that you moved too quick, and you were not equipped to be in the thrashing to begin with. But I do agree, its part of the process.

  44. Kim Nathan says:

    This is SO what I needed to hear today! I’m in the middle of a major thrash, but no one really knows it. My inclination is to hide it and report on it later, when I know how things turn out. Fortunately, several people have told me that now is the time to talk about it. This is the nitty gritty stuff that people want to read about because we’ve all been there at some point. Your post is just another nudge to do it, so thank you, Jonathan. Time to embrace my vulnerability and share it with the world.

  45. Kevin Riedel says:

    Great post, Jonathan. What I find difficult in the trhashing stage is the lack of peer acceptance. Because this stage is so unglamorous, my friends and family kind of look at me with a raised eyebrow. While nobody tells me outright that I’m nuts, I know what they are thinking. You can tell someone that you support them or you can actually support them.

    I’m apprehensive to tell more people I know about my venture. It’s so hard to maintain momentum on something when the people you regularly interact with don’t truly support you. I start feeling like an outcast and begin to question my own direction. It’s human nature to want to be accepted.

    This stage, for me, requires incredible mental strength. I need to stay strong and believe in myself.

  46. Christina says:

    I am in the midst of “thrashing indecision”. I’ve done career #1 – corporate executive; career #2 – raising two great daughters; and now comes career #3. I’ve always had a talent and passion for textile art. My trashing is between goings for the love career, but may not make much money (need to pay for 2 going to college soon) or take the safe road of any job with a solid paycheck. My indecision has taken me the past two years and every time I move forward for the safe job, something happens and it’s gone. My fear is looking at the fork in the road – which to take. Why can’t I just go for my art passion? I believe it is right, but my checking account and family says stay safe with a stable job. Indecision gets the better of me. So glad to know others are going through “the thrashing” stage too. Onward….with hope.

  47. Brian says:

    I just had this very conversation yesterday morning with a friend/entrepreneurial group therapy member/psychiatric adviser/fellow masochist. It’s amazing how the talking heads make it sound soooo easy. Just put your head down and GO! It is very comforting for me knowing that there are others Thrashing about in the real entrepreneurial club.

    It’s difficult on one’s mental processes being in this “zone”. I call it tweening – that area between being gainfully employed and running one’s own gainful enterprise. Rock and a hard place might feel better.

    Experiencing the Thrash has also helped me understand how much of a business person I am rather than a start up entrepreneur. (Another excellent JF post by the way) It also affords me a concrete way of explaining why this project is taking so damn long to people in my field and in my house. But patience in a slow product market is the key, I tell them.

    However, even at 50 years young and a boatload of domain expertise, it’s difficult to be patient while Thrashing about.

  48. Liza says:

    Jonathan…I am consistently amazed at how you seem to be peering into my soul! Thanks for the reminder that we are all in this together and for sharing your truth, as I am in the middle of a THRASH and am now really loving that word :>
    The Thrash? Re-defining who I believe I am and sticking with it…empowering myself while I watch my world change on a daily basis…keeping the Faith, standing strong. I value your “work” and with a heart full of gratitude, I thank you.

  49. Alex says:


    I might add you can’t know WHEN the thrash will move you forward. It might not show up for years, but as Danielle La Porte says, “Everything is Progress.”

    Even though I’ve reached certain milestones of “success” I sometimes still feel like I should have it all figured out. But each new project, partnership, bold goal and fresh idea comes with a certain amount of thrashing. But it’s a necessary part of the process. For everything. From building a website to raising a child.

    Don’t trash the trash, dash INTO the thrash.

  50. Maggie says:

    So, I watch Susan Piver on the GLP, and I so resonated with her. In fact, I watched the interview a second time so that I could write down what she said early in the interview:

    “It doesn’t really matter what I tell the world that I want. What matters is what the world is telling me that I can respond to today.”

    That helps me because I’ve had the vision of forming a private counseling practice around intuitive eating for many years now, and I’ve floundering, sputtered, and stumbled. I’ve hidden in academia, and now that I’m claiming my desire to earn money and stop giving away my time, I’m noticing that my professional path is turning more towards career counseling. I’m actually getting paid decent money for my career work, and I’ve got zero clients for my intuitive eating work. So, I’m listening to the pull of what the market demands.

    Thanks for your post, Jonathan. Well articulated and important topic!

  51. I can appreciate this post as I’ve been thrashing for some time now. I’ve always known that my gem would come out of all of it, but at times it can be frustrating, disenchanting, and demotivating. I always push past the negativity whenever it rears its ugly lil’ head and am at a point now where there is much less thrashing and more intentional direction. Still not out of the woods yet, and looking forward to when clarity is my dominant state of mind.

    Thanks Jonathan!

  52. Evan says:

    I’ve been in the thrash for years now.

    A couple more things to try, maybe, before I give up and do something else.

  53. Tommy Walker says:

    I’m in the thrash now, and have just gotten discouraged. First sign of Resistance really, and it made me a little disappointed in myself. Found myself wallowing, and I thought I was better than that.

    I know it’s all part of it, and decided to forget about being discouraged and continue forth. Instead of getting wrapped up in the losses, I’m counting the wins (seriously it was 2 and 2 anyways) and I’m thrashing and finding just how much greatness has been locked away.

    The only way I can describe it is it’s like a ball of burning white light emanating from my chest that is constantly tangled in black vines that try to prevent it from shining. The brighter it glows, the more the vines try to blot it out, but when I give it power, it burns them away.

    Sounds strange, I know. But that’s how I envision it.

  54. Jayne says:

    Ah the thrash you haven’t felt anything until you’ve started a little ‘project’ or two! What I’m finding is a little or a lot of empathy (from both myself and others) goes a long way to easing and aiding progress. Others may use other juice, empathy works for me. So pretty grateful for this post and a couple of other ones this week.

    There’s always a bit of a thrash in what we do but it’s a different feeling when we haven’t yet got into a rhythm that ‘knows’ it’s heading somewhere fruitful.

  55. Mike says:

    Incredibly timely and poignant. This touched me deeply. I had a very rough, very long period of thresh that I’m just now coming out of. I’m seeing some success but there’s a long road ahead! Thanks for the inspiration. It’s time to own the thrash period.

  56. […] with her, and I wish that she had. Like so many creative entrepreneurs, Sarah went through a lot of thrashing before she coalesced these ideas into what I think is truly her genius work – her Magnum […]

  57. Carla B says:

    Add my compliment to another timely informative post! I didn’t have a name for it but Thrash is perfect! I am in the Thrash after a year of life altering rut blowing ugly face wake up call changes. Your last two interviews on the GLP have helped me face my “thrash” with less fear and more openness. I really love the ideas that you don’t have to “marry” your career or even your decisions and the idea of following the path that is opening to you instead of doggedly following “the plan” even when its not working or all that fulfilling. I’m enjoying the process of discovering and trying on new ideas while knowing if they don’t work I can always try or do something else. Thrashing is still scary but I know it’s good to grow upward and outward.

  58. You’ve nailed it again Jonathan – you have no idea how timely and helpful this post is… One of the problems of running a start up is that you can have the sense that others around you are powering forward while you flounder… It can be v isolating as there’s a sense that we have to project complete, almost fundamentalist belief in the original idea and exude self- confidence even as we see things shifting and morphing as they travel through the thrasher (!). As you rightly point out, successful people/businesses tend only to share the point at which they started what, with hindsight, looks like an inevitable and unstoppable rise to fame and fortune. It’s the bit before that we all struggle with, and need to share more openly and honestly. So thank you.

  59. Giovanna says:

    Tks so much for this post…

  60. […] me deparei com este post do querido Jonathan Fields sobre como o ‘lixo’ é parte fundamental do processo de […]

  61. […] The truth is that these past few years have not been easy.  Label it what you will, a quarter life crisis or extended thrash. […]

  62. Adam says:

    Great post Jonathan. I’m just here to be counted as one the many people in the midst of thrashing! It’s comforting to know it’s a normal – and necessary – part of the whole process.
    It’s easy to see other peoples’ stories and assume for them it was a straight line from A to B..in reality everyone’s journey is a messy one!

  63. Christopher says:

    True. Thanks.

  64. *Thrashing* I am, and we are, almost all of us. Best thing we can do, methinks, is hold hands as we teach, learn and take heart from each other all the way through. I’m loving the raw realness of your recent posts, Jonathan!

  65. Just had this conversation today with a fellow entrepreneur of “how long does it really take to make it?”

    Entrepreneurship to me is being blessed with the opporunity to live life on your own terms. It’s freedom we crave when we are working for someone else and then ‘freak out’ when we have the freedom to craft our day, our way. I sometimes felt undeserving of that freedom.

    I am learning to look at my ‘freaked out’ self and say to her: “You’ve got this.” In my gut I know I wouldn’t be happy living life any other way. The adventure, the excitement of the process.

    I’ve screwed up BIG time in the past, and I’m sure I will in the future but the good and bad both hold lessons which I hope I can help someone else learn from. I’m in awe and humbled by that opportunty.

  66. jill goldman says:

    great discussion! i’ve definitely been in the thrash for a while. it comes and goes. i do find that if i spend time really “in it”, allowing myself to really think and question, i will often come up with the next step to take to propel me forward.

    what’s funny, too, is that part of what i do is helping people who are in the thrash to move forward out of it. and yet, i recently realized i needed to not just acknowledge it within myself but also to start being honest and open with my clients about my own thrashing about, instead of hiding it. i feel as though this is part of a turning point leading me to the next level of my business, and i’m feeling more and more ready for that. after all, sometimes the thrashing is due to a lack of feeling ready for what’s about to come.

    thank you again for opening the discussion!

  67. SJ August says:

    This post was written for me.
    It is nice to have a term to describe my situation. I’m THRASHING!
    For me this was such a relatable post. As I read it, you were speaking directly to me.
    Inspired by your Career Renegade book and the message of embracing your inner desire to do earn money from what you are passionate about, I had an epiphany, I was enlightened, and completely consumed by the idea I mustered in a split-second moment of enlightenment. Fast forward 1.5 years to today, I have a newly self-published book and awesome video trailer, but I’m stuck.
    I’ve created this tangible of my idea, and it really was like giving birth to something. But now what? Feeling stuck about what to do next and attempting to muster the energy and opposition I face next in promoting it. I have a plan, but there is fear talking back that it will fail, no one will listen to me with all the noise of living.
    I will not give up because this idea I have created is now who I am. My conviction is too strong to abandon my idea. A question for the tribe is: What did you do to mentally prepare yourself to confidently and bravely move forward?

  68. Yes, I’m still pushing through the last vestiges of the thrash, and trying to find a platform on which to land. I’m passionate about destigmatising mental illness so that more people will get help and fight their way out of it, as I did and my daughter too.

  69. stefano says:

    Very good post, as lots of yours are.
    It is also about trying to deal with analysis and recognition of failure without hiding things under the carpet.
    I suggested to the company I worked for for about 24 tears to create the Worst Practice Award instead of just the best practice one to get over the trashing as a phase to hide and instead a phase to embrace and maximise the profit from it.
    Thanks for your post

  70. Jen Gresham says:

    I think one of the biggest myths about the thrash is that it has a discreet beginning and end. I, for one, can feel like I’m a raging a success or in the throes of a thrash … all in the same day! I also know that most of the triggers for feeling like I’m thrashing have nothing to do with my work at all: it’s lack of sleep, an argument with my daughter, not eating well.

    Perspective is everything.

  71. […] am however heartened by three things. This post from Jo on Persistence. This post from Jonathon Fields on the Thrash. And NaNoWriMo; short for National Novel Writing Month, which takes place in […]

  72. Sarah Kent says:

    Great Post. Interesting how although we can really know & have even experienced how important the Thrash is in the process of learning, evolving & creating. Yet how easy it is to fall back into comparing, expecting things to be either/or , right/wrong or failure/success & how its this that leads to wallowing & inaction.

    Thanks for the reminder to keep testing, trying, & questioning & learning even when it feels like

  73. […] Jonathan Fields refers to it as “embracing the thrash” and Sally Hogshead to “sitting in the throne of agony.” […]

  74. […] Last week, I talked about the power of embracing The Thrash. […]

  75. Totally identify and bravo for posting. I thrashed wildly in my early twenties having walked out of a (well paid) job in which I’d been asked to stand by injustices I couldn’t approve, in order to maximise revenue. Much thrashing later, I became a successful freelance, to the point that I won awards and my story was featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine (UK) TROUBLE WAS… the writer missed out my detailed story of the THRASH !!Made my journey seem impossibly, nauseatingly seamless, smooth; a transition from darkness to light with none of the sick making panic, humiliation, trauma and self doubt that probably accompanies most journeys of this kind. The resulting article was just the sort of piece that reproaches more than inspires. Inplausible, inaccurate, a lie…not what I’d said, and mos def not how it was, nor likely shall ever be. Years later, I’m a writer myself, of many mag articles and around ten books. And yes, I always tell it how it is ! BRAVO for this post ! Thanks from an autumnal UK. Deena

  76. Started Farm My Yard a couple months ago and have been thrashing ever since! Love this article, thank you!

  77. edna says:

    I too am definitely in the thrash, thanks for a wonderful post. I do have a coach who is pushing and pulling me through some of these changes which is helpful but still scary. My business is beginning to take shape and I’m developing a vision as I get more in tune with what I love doing with clients and what gets them where they want to go with their business.

    I’m not as productive as I would like to be at the moment but that seems to be part of the process.

  78. […] long ago, we stumbled upon a blog post by Jonathan Fields called “Embrace the Thrash.”  In it, Jonathan discusses the stressful challenges of building anything new.  We loved it, […]

  79. […] Fields encourages us to embrace the thrash and the “messiness” of implementing your vision. Brené Brown says: We can’t go it […]

  80. Donna Martemucci says:

    This discussion on thrashing is just what I need at this time. I have recently discovered your great work and your terrific insights, Jonathan, so I am going back and reading everything I can get my hands on! Just finished “Uncertainty” and am trying to use those wise passages to help me as I start my own “build a business” journey.
    Thank you!

  81. […] when you’re in the part of any quest I call The Thrash, you often don’t yet have a clear beat on your metrics for success. But you still need […]