He was using his fear as a green light to stretch himself and try something new. I was using my fear as a stop sign because people might laugh at me.
I was listening to a podcast about podcasts the other day. The interviewee was an expert in the world of podcasting. And I was taking notes because one day, I fancy myself as having a podcast too.
Then he said one thing that rang all the non-podcasting-related bells in my head.
He said he welcomes fear nowadays.
He uses it as a sign that he is stretching himself. Otherwise, if he hasn’t felt scared in a while, it likely means he’s stuck in his comfort zone.
But something about how he said it, or maybe the context in which he said it, that made his statement stick like glue.
Things I’m afraid of:
Vampires, zombies, anything dead that refuses to stay dead
Snakes, roaches, alligators (really, though, who isn’t?)
Being laughed at
Being talked about, not in a good way
I’ve stopped myself from doing lots of things because of the last three items on that list. Even when I knew that the doing of the things would be fun. Or exciting. Or daring.
In the back of my mind, a voice would say, “Oh but Lou, you would be so proud of yourself if you…”
But it’s just a tiny voice, and the other ones always won.
I’ve twisted myself into a pretzel so as to avoid situations where I might, possibly, in the off-chance, find myself in those embarrassing spots.
I thought to myself, “I would die of humiliation if those things were to happen.”
And then it happened.
And I didn’t die.
The guy on the podcast was talking about using his fear as a signal for him to stretch himself.
I was using my fear as a warning that people might laugh at me and think me stupid.
Internal motivation for growth versus external validation of worth.
The penny drops.
I think it’s easy to get complacent, yes?
We get good at something, and we stick to it. It’s comfortable. It’s easy.
It may be stale or boring. But hey, the risk that someone will point their fingers at us, talking behind our backs, is down to nil.
We choose the feeling of safety over the chance to discover something new about ourselves.
If only, right? If only we could use fear as a motivator.
To learn and stretch in unimaginable new ways.
Or to land somewhere that’s a thousand and one percent more vibrant than the safe one we’re in.
Maybe we’ll figure out that yeah, alright, we might get bruised if we fell, but it wouldn’t be fatal and it sure wouldn’t be permanent.
And hey, we’d have a scar to show off and an interesting story to go with it.
p.s.: Also, Your Big Leap
Over to You
What is one thing you would love to do but have, to-date, been stymied by your fear? How might you use this fear to motivate you instead, even if it’s just testing the waters or a really small step?