It’s one of those typical coaching questions, but I had forgotten how immensely powerful it was as Carl, my own life coach, asked me over lunch one day a little while ago.
What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
I mean it. Really take some time to answer that question.
And when you find your answers, go out & plan to do exactly what you are afraid of doing.
(Disclaimer: Unless it involves fighting tigers or leaping out of planes without parachutes, or any other potentially life-ending endeavours. I’d prefer to have you on this planet with me for as long as possible.)
So why would you do that?
Because a life that is exciting, joyful and meaningful, that bounces on the highs of your full potential and gifts your biggest contribution to the world, is on the other side of that fear.
We allow ourselves to be caged in by fear, the tiger in our mind that keeps us within the boundaries of our comfort zone. But fear just like any other emotion is just a feeling. It’s not pleasant, but if you can lean into its discomfort, you will discover endless new possibilities for yourself.
Life is short. It truly is. You may think you have time. That there will be a day that you will not be scared, and then you’ll do it. But here’s the thing, that day will not come. The only way you will become less fearful is by doing exactly what you are scared of. Stop waiting.
I went home that day and wrote down the things I was scared of. Failure featured centre-piece. What if I fail? What if I crash and burn? What if I can’t do it? Am I good enough? As I was writing it all down, I realised these were all emotional threats that I was making up for myself. Failure, rejection, uncertainty. They were the tigers in my head, the likelihood of this all happening very slim but even if it would – what would it really mean?
Ask yourself, is what I’m scared of really that important? In the bigger picture of it all, does it really matter?
What constitutes a life lived well? A life lived in the safety of your comfort zone? Or breaking through existing barriers of what you think you can do and finding out that you are capable of so much more than what you think?
For me, the realisation was that not trying, not expanding, not growing, not exploring all of life’s adventures, including the sometimes some what messy moments, would be the biggest failure of all.
Life is a beautiful adventure, and I want to know what I am capable of. That doesn’t mean I’m not scared, but I’ve accepted that fear is just part & parcel of it. And that there is a bigger tiger out there, which is not living my life the way I want to live, not knowing what I’m capable of, and spending my time being scared of things that live in my imagination.
A fearless life is a life where you welcome and accept the inevitable challenges of life, where you break through the discomfort of change and perhaps even welcome it, knowing that whatever comes your way, you’ll deal with it. This is where true freedom from fear lies. A fearless life then is not the absence of fear, but a way of using the fear as a compass to guide you in the right direction. If you’re scared of something, then it very likely is the one thing that you should be doing. And each and every time you do this, you grow in ways you never thought possible.
By bringing in a sense of adventure, an open & playful mind, we can approach our fear in a different way and as the amazing guide that it is.
Adventure isn’t hanging on a rope on the side of a mountain. Adventure is an ATTITUDE that we must apply to the day-to-day obstacles of life – facing new challenges, seizing new opportunities, testing our resources against the unknown and, in the process, discovering our own unique potential.”- John Amatt
For some life ends sooner than it should. And recently, I had a stark reminder of this when a beautiful soul passed away way too soon. We forget that life by default is temporary. That our time here is limited. We try to ignore this because the fear of our temporary existence for many is too hard to face. Yet we all know this deep down inside.
If you really knew and understood your time here was limited, would that change your perspective on your fears? If you knew you only had another 5 years, would that change things? A year? A month? A week?
We allow ourselves to be chased away by ghosts of unnecessary fears, hiding away under comfort blankets of certainty. But in the end, it won’t matter. It won’t matter that you failed at something (get real, we all do. It comes with the territory of living). It won’t matter that it took you longer than expected or that you didn’t do the best job of it (and whose expectation is it?). Or that you perhaps never even succeeded (but the journey there was freaking amazing).
What matters is that you succeed in life. And with that I mean, that you tried, you learned, you grew, you lived, you loved, you climbed mountains and fell back again, and in some way made a difference in someone’s day.
You experienced life as the great adventure that it is.The highs & the lows. That slightly nauseating squeeze in your belly as the rollercoaster of life is just at its tipping point before it rushes down and the soft relief when the ride calms down for a bit & you can enjoy the view…..
So what are you afraid of? And what step can you take to do exactly that? What challenge can you set for yourself, big or small?
It’s time. Bring it on. Let’s rock & roll.
For more thoughts on how to deal with fear, check out On the other side of fear, the land of possibility and growth and Saying yes to fear.
Have a beautiful week lovely, and when you have a moment, leave me a comment or send me a note. I’d love to hear from you.
Feel the urge to take some time out to reassess where you are in life? Want to tackle some of those fears and see what you are capable of? Want to set yourself a new challenge and could use some support? Send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.