Moving Past Fear

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”     ~ Theodore Roosevelt

It’s easy to read Roosevelt’s words and think “to dare mighty things” is referring only to monumental undertakings.  I think this quote also speaks of living a life with willingness to step out of our comfort zones and try new things, even with the possibility of failure.

Here’s a nugget of truth that is applicable for all of us:  we are going to fail.  At some point, we’re going to fall short, do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing, or lack the skills, experience, or wisdom needed to succeed.  There’s no escaping it.  It’s part of the human condition.  But failing does not mean we are failures.

I find that liberating!

President Roosevelt’s words remind us that successes, victories, and triumphs often come through our failures.  Being willing to move ahead, even after failure, is how great things are achieved, and how a fulfilling life is lived.  On the contrary, playing it safe, in order to avoid failure, does not lead to success. Rather, it leads to regret and a life that knows neither victory nor defeat.

Where are you holding back because of a fear of failure?  What step can you take today to break through the fear that is holding you back?  Take that step, without being concerned about failing but rather be focused on giving your best effort.

Who knows, you might be wildly successful.

The Unknown

What are the first thoughts that go through your mind when you hear the phrase, “The Unknown”?  Is it:

  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Scary
  • Confusing
  • A mystery
  • Something to be avoided

If we think of The Unknown as a destination, it represents somewhere we have never been, and therefore have never had any experience with.  I’d like to introduce the following thought regarding The Unknown:

“Just because you’ve never been somewhere doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go there.”

Think about that for a moment.  What if you never:

  • Traveled to a place you’ve never been before
  • Attempted to learn something new
  • Met people you didn’t already know
  • Undertook something you’ve never done before
  • Exposed yourself to different cultures and surroundings

What kind of impact do you think this would have on us?  What is the price we would pay in terms of the richness and quality of our lives if we always sought to avoid The Unknown?  Although I’m not exactly sure how you’d quantify that, I am certain the price would be quite high.

While The Unknown can be a scary place, and sometimes a place we didn’t choose to go, we shouldn’t be afraid of it simply because it is unknown to us.  For it can also be:

  • Exciting
  • Life changing in a positive way
  • Filled with opportunity
  • Full of adventure
  • Eagerly awaiting your arrival to bestow unimaginable joy and blessings
  • Where you’ll learn more about yourself than you every thought possible
  • An experience you’ll be able to encourage others with

The next time you’re feeling nervous or scared about venturing into The Unknown, seek out someone who has been where you haven’t been or has done what you haven’t done yet.  For them, our destination is not unknown.  Their experience can give us the courage we need as we step into our Unknown.

Here’s a final thought:  Someone else’s scary Unknown is familiar territory for you.  When you come across these people, put an arm around them and encourage them as they step in.

The Voice

There’s a group of people where I work that get together every other Friday to practice public speaking.  The group leader emails out a couple of topics at the beginning of the week, and each person who would like to speak has 5 minutes to present their topic.  It’s a great opportunity to regularly practice speaking in front of a group.

Although I love the creative process of getting a topic, thinking about what I want to communicate, and crafting my presentation, at some point during the process I briefly think, “I don’t have to talk this week.  I could just pass this time, then I wouldn’t have to do all this work to prepare.”  That’s the voice of fear that thinks it’s easier not to put yourself out there, to play it safe, and not to take chances.

I don’t listen to that voice.  Instead, I double-down on my preparation efforts.

Every time I finish a presentation, there’s a great feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment at having prepared and delivered a good speech.  If I’d have listened to that voice, I would have missed that feeling, as well as the experience that came with it.

We all have that voice, the one that urges us to hold back and play it safe.  And we all have the same freedom: to succumb to that voice’s false warning or to ignore it and press on.

I wonder how much joy, satisfaction, accomplishment, encouragement, innovation, experiences, personal growth, and love in the world is lost every day, because people listen to this voice.

The next time you hear this voice calling you to hold back and play it safe, tune it out, and instead press on and do great things.