A colleague challenged me with that question yesterday. What would I do if I weren’t afraid? She was asking in a strictly business sense, but the question is much larger than that, isn’t it?
I posed the same question on Facebook and, let me just tell you, I have WAY too many friends who would to jump out of perfectly good airplanes! Skydiving? Really?
You should have seen my daddy’s face when he got my grades from Mississippi State the first semester of my junior year. “Western equitation?! I’m paying for you to take horseback riding lessons?! What in the cat hair?!!!” (My daddy says “cat hair” in lieu of curse words a lot.) He was less than pleased. But for me, it wasn’t really about learning to ride a horse. For me, it was about overcoming a paralyzing fear. I was palpably terrified the first several times I had to catch and saddle Buzz, my horse who was, poor thing, just all the way at the bottom of the herd ranking. The first time I put the bit in his mouth, I nearly fainted. Put my thumb in there? Are you mad?! Dr. Boyd, my professor, realized that I was battling a profound fear and patiently helped me overcome it. By semester’s end, I was often first off the rail and we were ready to go, me and my buddy Buzz.
I took the class because I was tired of fear ruling so much of my life. Today, 25 years later (ugh, how did that happen?), I still find myself paralyzed by fear more frequently than I care for. And why? What am I really afraid of? Failure? Ridicule? Pain?
I believe that we all fear those things sometimes to the point of feeling ill. We all fear them. We all avoid them. And we all deny it.
So, what would I do if I weren’t afraid?
From a professional perspective, I would approach strangers and ask for their business. I would approach friends and ask for their business. I would ask for what I want. From a personal perspective, I would finish writing my book. I would clearly define my goals. I would love with all my heart.
Yesterday, I shared a 30-Day Challenge with you (and, yes, I know that October has 31 days – one day is a freebie). Conquering fear isn’t really at the core of that challenge; however, it makes sense to me that I approach conquering fear the same way I am approaching that challenge – one bite at a time.
So, from a professional perspective, the first bite was tackling that cold call list. From a personal perspective, my first bite was in defining my goals – in writing. So far, I haven’t exploded; no bits of the space station have conked me on the head. And, in spite of some nervous nausea, the world didn’t come to an end. Progress has been made.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, though; so, I’ll work on the book in my spare time. I’ll continue to write down my goals. And, you can relax, you’ve got a little while to go before I’m asking for your business.
….but get ready.