Over the past few years of my journey, I have discovered so much about myself. One of them was my natural tendancy to turn and run away from fear. So you’re probably thinking … “and? who in their right mind wouldn’t?” My answer now is … not me! Rather than run away from my fears, I am now stepping straight into them. Sometimes there is a lot of hesitation, but before long I’m stepping towards them.
I’m not talking about the fear related to some physical harm. I have a significant fear of falling off real cliffs … so I’m very careful near them. I have a fear of getting run over by cars & trucks … so I don’t go wandering on busy highways. I have a fear of cutting off a finger with a power saw … so I’m always careful when using my tools. When the fear is tied to some physical harm … I tend to listen to the fear.
However, when the fear is those little voices in my head telling me I shouldn’t do something I want … that’s a very different story. Let me explain …
Playing it safe
For years, I dreamt of doing something bigger in my life. Getting up each day, going to work and earning a pay cheque just wasn’t as exciting for me as it once was. I have always wanted to have an impact in this world, not for the sake of money or fame, but to make a difference. I don’t know if it’s the values I learned as a Scout around leaving the world better than I found it, or it’s just naturally who I am. I just want to make a difference.
I can remember one year, I started getting this idea that I can change how business thinks about people. I’ve long believed there is an almost imhumane way in which so many businesses treat their people. People are not meant to be trapped in little boxes for 8 hours per day, stuck behind a keyboard, being measured in scientific ways as if we are machines churning out widgets. If a machine is making errors you fix it. If a thinking, feeling human being is making errors we need to figure out what conditions are contributing to those errors and correct those. Totally different mindsets.
There were so many times I tried to change this from within an organization I worked for. I would voice concerns, I would try to influence little changes, I would push hard sometimes, I would introduce radical ideas (for their cultures). In all of these things though one thing kept holding me back …
Fear of looking stupid. Fear of being seen as too radical. Fear of someone arguing with me. Fear of not being liked by those around me. Fear of being shunned. The list is extensive, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten some of the juicier ones.
So in these times of fear, I would withdraw and return to my little box. I would read some more thinking perhaps I just didn’t have the right answer yet. I would go back to doing what’s comfortable until I was ready to really take on these big problems.
Then one day not that long ago I came to realize my fears are not protecting me. My fears are keeping me in my comfort zone and having me play small. My fears are those little voices convincing me I shouldn’t grow and should not take a chance. “don’t do that or they won’t like you anymore” or “it’s not worth the effort as no-one will listen anyways” or one of my favourites “stick to what you’re good at … there’s nothing wrong with working for ‘the man’ to earn a pay cheque”
The truth is these fears held me back for a very long time. These fears kept me from taking risks. These fears kept me from sharing something pretty powerful in me. These fears limited my growth.
What is fear
I see fear as a natural part of who we are. You will never get rid of all your fears and neither will I. The truth is the better I get at dealing with my fears, the more complex those fears become so I will never escape fear entirely.
Each of us has a comfort zone. Our comfort zones are very different in shape and size, and they are the places we exist without feeling vulnerable, threatened or some other negative emotion. Whatever your comfort zone looks like is the right thing, so don’t feel yours is better or worse than someone else.
This fear lives at the edge of your comfort zone. Fear exists to warn you that you’re about to step out of your comfort zone. It’s probably going to feel really uncomfortable. It’s possible you could even fail at what you’re about to try.
However, it’s also true the only way for you to grow is to step through your fears. To take a chance. To risk something. Beyond your fears is a bigger version of you!
A while ago you may remember reading my post titled “Jump … I dare you!“. If you haven’t read it I highly recommend you stop reading this post, and go back to that post and read it. Even if you did … go re-read it like I just did.
I can tell you from experience it’s a scary thing to stand at the edge of the cliff and decide it’s time to jump! Just as Steve’s video in that post predicted … I have some bumps and bruises to show for having taken the risk and jumped. There’s times when I get all whinny and complain “why can’t this be easier!?!?” There’s even times I’ve considered just sitting down on the edge of the cliff and watching the world go by as it would be easier than trying to soar.
It’s my belief we’re all put on this planet for a reason. You are not meant to just simply exist. You are meant to make a difference in this world! Yes it’s totally possible to do this you’re going to have to do something that will scare the crap out of you. However, I can tell you from experience in doing so only one thing is possible … your growth!
So I dare you … actually in the words of Schwartz (“A Christmas Story”) … I “double-Dog-dare” you … pick a fear you are facing right now. A conversation, an opportunity, mending a broken relationship, saying “No” to working overtime again. It doesn’t have to be big and collosal … just something you are fearful of doing something about it. Having trouble seeing one … just look for something you’ve been procrastenating on dealing with. Do you have it?
Here’s what I’d like you to do … are you ready?!? Jump!! Stop procrastenating and coming up with really good stories of why this isn’t the right time to step in that direction. Just do it. Take action! Step towards the fear! Sure you may end up with skinned knees … but then again you might grow from it.
It’s time to choose! Put all those little stories aside and step into your fears. The world is waiting for you.