“The cave you fear holds the treasure you seek.” – Joseph Campbell
This week, I wanted to share a little about my personal relationship with the devious and dubious feeling known as fear. And to share a few ways that you can improve your relationship to your own fear.
But first, I want to speak a little about my Uncle.
This isn’t a TOTAL non sequitur…roll with me here.
My Dad’s brother is a curious creature. I love the man, but sometimes he can be difficult to tolerate in anything longer than short bursts.
One of the most endearing aspects of his character – and one I really wish I could coach (except for those pesky ethics of working with direct family and whatnot) is that he’s been married five times and divorced five times, yet he still loves nothing more than to give me advice on women.
Many years ago, before I even started working with a coach, to say nothing of becoming a coach myself, my uncle said this to me. I didn’t believe it then, and I d*** sure don’t believe it now.
“I fear nothing.”
Yeah, and I’m meeting Scarlett Johansson for dinner tomorrow night. I’m flying to her oceanfront condo in Cairo on the back of my airborne pig.
There are many different layers to the concept of fear.
Let’s flashback a few hundred thousand years. Our caveman ancestors probably thought twice whenever there was an angry saber-toothed tiger outside their cave.
Consider that this is the fear for your safety. You’re scared that you’re going to die because that tiger wanted to take out your family!
This isn’t the fear we’re talking about.
I enjoy public speaking. I’m a weirdo like that, but I truly enjoy public speaking. I’ve gotten some coaching business this way. And truthfully, I’m really good at it.
Granted, I think my biggest audience was maybe 25 people, but still. I speak well in front of people.
I believe it was Obama’s second inauguration. One of the most memorable moments to me was the performance by Kelly Clarkson. Admittedly, her music doesn’t do much for me, but I admire her for what she did on that cold morning in January of 2013.
To look out onto the National Mall at upwards of one million people has to be a terribly intimidating sight. I cannot imagine what that sight must be from the Capitol steps.
All Clarkson did was step onto the stage and belt – and I do mean belt – out the song My Country ‘Tis of Thee.
I think it’s pretty obvious as she approached the microphone that her knees had to have been trembling under her dress. “Just what in the blue hell have I gotten into?” she had to be asking herself.
Yet she stepped up and hit a grand slam that left everybody – including the First Family – in awe.
Did she defeat her fear? Nope. But she certainly fought her way through it.
To accomplish big things in your life will take moving past fear. You don’t think I had fear in my space when I submitted my manuscript four years ago for publication? You don’t think I had fear when I stood up and spoke in front of that lunch a few months ago?
I’ve accomplished a lot in the past couple of years. I’m working on more – way more – but things take time.
I want to propose five simple practices that you can take on to move past your fear to accomplish big things in your life.
- Admit that you have fear. This is why I shared that piece earlier about my uncle. Everybody has these fears of who we are and who we’re not. We all have these fears of judgment, of failure, and of looking bad. Admitting that we have these fears is the first step in no longer letting these fears stop you.
- Forgive yourself for having fear. Okay, this one can be tricky. When you’re looking to set the world on fire, sometimes you can end up beating yourself up for having fear. Fear isn’t the same thing as weakness. Facing your fear is about the strongest thing you can take on. If you think about it, you’re forgiving yourself for being human.
- Take on one thing outside of your comfort zone. Outside your comfort zone is where the juiciness of life lives. That’s where possibility lives. That’s where joy lives. That’s where your purpose lives. I’m not saying this is where you choose to go skydiving or anything. Although, if you want to CHOOSE that, I’m not gonna stop you. But let’s say public speaking is one of your fears. Go visit a Toastmasters meeting. You might not become the next public speaking master, but you may free yourself from a bigger fear that might be holding you back.
- Put together a team. I can’t stress this enough. If you try to go about moving past your fears alone then you’ll have a way harder time making your big life happen then if you put a team together. You know Kelly didn’t do what she did alone. She had her stylists, the people who ran her monitor and the sound during the event, to say nothing of the inaugural committee. And that list could go on and on. Get some friends to support you. Hire a coach if you choose to. (Side note, anyone know any good life coaches? #winkwink) Alone you go quickly, but together you’ll go far.
- Get enrolled in yourself. By this I mean, develop an unshakable belief and confidence in yourself that you can accomplish anything you want to accomplish. Declare it and make it so. Choose it and make it so.
Y’all, this entire year has been about testing the limits of my own comfort zone. Asking for money, feeling helpless watching my sister deal with cancer treatment a thousand miles away, going to court regarding the…let’s just call it, the souring of the relationship with my former landlords, all the way to singing karaoke and performing stand-up comedy – it’s been about expanding my comfort zone.
And when it comes to facing your fears, that’s all we’re talking about here. Expanding what you’re comfortable with.
It’s not magic. But the experience can be magical.
Face a fear today. What’s the worst that can happen? You might just amaze yourself as what you can accomplish.