I was reading a magazine today and came across the following question: If you knew you wouldn’t fail, what would you try?
All the respondents happened to be women. There were a couple seriously risky answers like “become a fighter pilot” and “Move to New York and try out for Saturday Night Live” but what surprised me most was the number of answers that from the outside looking in, did not appear necessarily extreme. Ladies responded with things like try a renovation project, zip line, go back to college, skateboard and one said she would clear her own land with a backhoe all by herself . Another woman even said “make a soufflé.”
This made me think about how we so often let fear keep us from doing even small things we really want to give a try. New recipes. Solo travel. A funky haircut. Art. I really hope Elisa can find a way to make that soufflé! Think of how many things we would not have experienced if we had let the fear of failure, fear of looking silly or fear of the unknown stop us. Then, there’s the list of things that we actually have not yet experienced because we are letting fear get in the way.
Do any such things come to your mind as you read this?
Fear can be consuming; the more we pay attention to it, the bigger it gets. It can be so overwhelming that we will even ignore truth that would dispel it! We put on our fear-goggles and only accept things we see or hear as valid that support the fear. More times than not, fear is all bark and no bite. I read a book not long ago that encouraged me to argue with my fear. It has been an interesting approach and offers instant results when I remember to do it. When I start thinking things like “that will be a mess” or “you don’t know what you are doing” or “this could be an epic failure”, I imagine fear as an entity I can talk to and I challenge Fear to “prove it”. I demand undisputable proof that what I am about to do is going to fail or that I am not capable of whatever it is. Fear is suddenly speechless. I’ll usually say (or think) “That’s what I thought!” with a bit of a smirk and carry on about my business. (Occasionally Fear tries to argue back, but it never gets very far.)
When I read each woman’s daring idea in the magazine, I wanted to call them each personally and cheer them on: “Go Zipline!” “Jump on that skateboard!” “Rent a backhoe for the weekend and just give it a shot!” I really want to drag Elisa by her toes into the kitchen and hold her hostage until that soufflé gets made. Ah, but I cannot. Elisa and everyone else will have to muster up the courage on their own, decide to be bold and take the leap.
There is a class I teach where I ask a similar question. “If you were 10 times bolder, what would you do for YOU right now in your life?” Amazingly, 9 out of 10 people would quit their jobs. It’s almost always the case, even with men. What is interesting though is what they would quit their jobs to do. People say things like travel alone, start a craft business, hike the Appalachian Trail, go into real estate, go back to college, volunteer, and so on. It may be hard to hike the Appalachia Trail with a standard work schedule, but there are definitely ways to travel solo, start a business, volunteer or go back to school without quitting your job. The problem is so often not the job, but fear. Hence, the question, if you were 10x bolder… People often blame their jobs or see it as the barrier, but as we explore their statements, it is often fear that is uncovered.
So, I leave you with these questions…If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you try? If you were 10 times bolder what would you do for YOU right now in your life?
Now, the challenge is to be bold. Will you take the leap?