TJ Trent says confronting your deepest, darkest fears is vital to your success in business and life.
For weeks now I have been on auto pilot. Writing my weekly business piece for The Good Men Project used to be a source of extreme pride. I used to love churning out ideas and discussing issues during my weekly articles. Over the last couple months though it has been increasingly difficult. Frankly, I am surprised I have not quit! Honestly, my only saving grace was a stable of articles I was able to republish. Yes, in my mind, I was circling the drain.
In the midst of a lot of noises (from internal and external sources), I tried to sort out my thoughts. Alone time has always been important to me, so I made more time for myself and my thoughts. One course short of completing my Masters degree I postponed by last class. Spending more time sorting out my thoughts took precedence.
In the beginning, I was scared of what I might find lurking deep within my mind. Perhaps the most frightening thought seeking to immobilize me were feelings of failure and disillusion. Could it be possible that I am the idiot who is confident to a fault and fails to recognize that society is doomed? Perhaps it is highly likely that I was wrong all this time. Would I discover that I am the village clown who drank the proverbial Kool-Aid?
Throughout every second of this soul-searching, I had to resist the urge to silence my inner critic. I wanted to tell him “to shut the fuck up” because entertaining him was irritating. It forced me to consider multiple points of view that challenged my cultural norms. Over the last few weeks, my thoughts and emotions have been on a roller coaster ride. After a while, I wondered if it would ever balance out.
After many, many walks, workouts, and silent contemplation I learned to confront my thoughts head on and I feel better. I want to share with you these thoughts and how I believe they will fuel my success.
What am I afraid to talk about right now?
After 13 years in the Army, I am currently being considered for promotion to senior leadership. Sure, I believe I deserve the promotion, and my evaluations offer substantial support but what if it doesn’t happen. I have spent a lot of time thinking about this scenario and wondering, what if.
I am scared my non-promotion will serve as fuel for my critics. More so I am scared of disappointing my friends and family who have supported and encouraged me for so long. Not being selected will feel like a punch in the gut.
What upsets me about the world?
I know life is not all roses and five-star hotels. However, if we don’t keep trying, if we don’t set goals if we don’t attempt to see even a glimmer of hope we become victims. My default negative attitude used to help me find the most negative traits in the most positive situations. I was constantly waiting for the next great disaster that would surely come and destroy me. Simultaneously, my negative attitude became toxic and poisoned my best relationships.
For years, I never understood how truly fortunate I was because my default was set to find the negative. Today, I see a lot of this happening in the world at large. The media floods us with negativity, division, and drama because it sells. The lines between reality television and the evening new are increasingly blurred.
If I was going to die in a week what would I regret?
I am sorry for not spending more time with my family. My decisions involving career, money, and life, in general, have kept my family apart for too long at a time. I had good intentions when I volunteered for overseas, assignments and deployments, but my reasoning was off. In retrospect, I feel like I only did it for the money.
Each of these issues is deeply personal to me and made me uncomfortable to consider them. For many years, I ran from thinking about these topics and many more. Today I realize that continued success in business and life, in general, requires us to confront our deepest and darkest fears boldly.
Photo: Flickr/Chris Price