Every day we suffer a handful of private defeats by compromising or avoiding opportunities so that we can avoid feeling fear.
Just the idea of fear is awful enough to cause us to avoid any situation that could cause us to feel it. We are afraid of sharks so we don’t even look at the beach; after all, we know what’s past the beach – the water, where the sharks are.
I’m not talking about avoiding sharks; I’m talking about avoiding the idea of sharks.
I have fear on my mind because I’ve been watching my daughter Ella learn to ride her new, bigger bicycle. She is nervous and uncomfortable and sort of shocked to find that she has to learn to be comfortable again. She is 9 and figured she had this mastered, so watching her accept her first setback is fascinating for me.
Ella is taking it slow, and she stays closer to me and the perceived security I bring. I’ve noticed that she takes a lot more breaks than usual so she can find the familiar by putting her feet on the ground.
Ella is cautious to begin with, so I really admire her courage to ride the bike despite her fear. She inspires me, and she should inspire you. Rather than avoiding her fear (her Lizard), she is dancing with it.
How about you? Are you seeking out the moments that will make you uncomfortable? Are you stuck in your comfort zone because you have convinced yourself that your comfort zone is your safety zone?
The fear that used to keep us safe is now our worst enemy.
Over our evolution, we have learned to associate the feeling of discomfort or fear with being unsafe. There are plenty of things that will not put you in danger but will make you uncomfortable, like dancing, or speaking in front of a room full of people, or sharing an idea at work that will make a positive difference for your audience.
Overcoming fear and procrastination isn’t very easy to do, so here are a few tips that I shared with Ella because sometimes the best work I do is at home with my most precious customers.
- Start at the beginning, not the end.
Don’t fixate on the end result; instead consider the very first step. It’s entirely possible you don’t even know all the steps required to get to the end. Sometimes progress involves feeling your way along so starting with the end in mind is dangerous. Worry about a good start and then worry about what to do second.
- Remember that every step counts.
Each step along the way doesn’t have to be big; it just has to be taken. Every accomplishment from baking a cake or riding a bike to putting people on the moon and bringing them home is made up of smaller steps, often made over and over again.
- Worry about what you do, not how you feel.
All that matters is that you do it, not how you feel about doing it. You have no idea how the people you admire feel. You assume that they feel differently because you can’t know how they feel. All you know is they are doing it, so the assumption you make is that if they can do it, it’s because they feel differently. This assumption is likely wrong.
- Accept that accomplishing things makes you a better person.
Your entire life has been about getting comfortable with a new normal. At one point in your life, relieving yourself in your own pants was comforting and familiar, and the toilet was terrifying. That was a long time ago, and you have been on a journey straight up since then. Think about all the things you have learned how to do by taking action. Taking action has many unintended opportunities for growth beyond the specific area you are working on.
Thanks for reading the blog. I was just thinking that a long time ago, I was afraid to publish anything I wrote. Your support has been incredibly helpful. Thanks for the push.