Most of us know fear on a first-name basis. Fear wears as many masks as the number of hats we wear. I’ve felt it as a business owner, mom, wife, community leader, musician, and speaker. When the wind is at your back, the skies are cloudless, and life is smiling at you – it’s easy to keep fear at bay. Then there are those times when fear is an every day enemy
In my world of leadership coaching and training, issues that cause trepidation are typically things like courageous communication, lofty goals, navigating change,pushing through comfort zones, and things of that sort. An injury two weeks ago changed the game and brought it down to absolute basics in my life. Can I admit that going out my own front door is what’s scaring me right now? Yep. But you have to give me a break – they are big steps and I’m on crutches! The vivid memory of my recent fall with disastrous consequences is a bit too clear. Without belaboring the details, I’ve recognized I am physically capable of navigating the steps with the devices at hand. My confidence level is the problem. (Coordination, or lack thereof, may also be a teensy factor.)
What is the obstacle in your way right now? It may be a financial obstacle, a change in career, re-defining yourself after a divorce–it could be any number of things.
Humor is a common antidote for fear. Jerry Seinfeld quips, “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” Among other top fears are things you would expect, like spiders, snakes, and the fear of enclosed spaces. It’s not surprising that recent events in America have catapulted some of the following fears to the top of the heap: government corruption, cyber-terrorism, economic collapse, terrorist attacks, and identity theft.
The good news is that fear is a perfectly normal emotion, and we all feel it. If you are not experiencing it, you aren’t doing enough new things. Fear is like fire, it can heat a house and cook your dinner or it can burn you down. It’s not about eliminating the fear. It’s learning to take the small steps that move you through it. Walking forward through the fear can take you to a new place of fresh courage and strength.
Eleanor Roosevelt advised, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Have you noticed how often fear is accompanied by fascination? We want to observe the rattlesnake or the sharks from behind the glass, and dream of doing daring things like jumping out of airplanes. The challenge is to use the sharp edge of fear to do something useful.
Identify the fascinating fear that is connected with your gifts and talents–your calling. What is it that you long to do–BUT. Yes, the thing that has the big BUT in the way.
Follow these 4 steps to begin the journey from fear to faith.
1) Make a plan. You don’t have to face the fear yet, you just have to plan to face the fear. Don’t fret about it. Allow your pride and fascination with making a plan to dominate your thoughts.
2) Take the first step. Action in increments–inch by inch, it’s a cinch.
3) Keep taking steps until there is no turning back. This should involve a verbal declaration of your goal–even if that is to only one accountability partner. Remember when you were a kid and you climbed all the way to the high dive? Once you are up there, it’s harder to climb down the steps backwards than to jump–especially if the steps are lined with other kids waiting impatiently for their turn.
4) Celebrate each step. Don’t wait until you reach an epic milestone to celebrate. Take pleasure in the progress and congratulate yourself as you go.
If you want something you’ve never had, you’ll have to do something you’ve never done. You have to leave the land of your comfort to cross the bridge to your destiny. Don’t look back, hold back or hesitate. Fear can be what we feel, but brave is what we do.