Hands up, those who've put something off, because they've been afraid?
Chance's are there aren't many people with their hands up right now. That's not because the world is full of really brave people, but rather it's because most are even too afraid to admit of having a fear. It’s ironic really. We've been brought up, particularly for men, to show our peers how macho, or how tough we are.
Let's cut the crap, we're all human, admit it or not but we've all got fears of one kind or another.
Now that we've highlighted that little elephant in the room, we can really get into the route of the subject. Hold tight, this might be a bumpy ride for some of you…
There’s a conversation I had many years ago, whilst doing my work experience week at school. I’ve always remembered it. For my work experience week, I was sent to a local truck repair garage. My work mentor the week was a middle aged mechanic, a nice guy, I liked him & we got on really well all week. But towards the end of the week, for a reason that I can’t remember, he decided to tell me, that he was afraid of nothing & nobody. I never questioned this at the time, but I’ve always believed that perhaps this wasn’t completely true, and in fact more of a facade.
He was rather large chap, so I could understand why he might not be afraid of anybody, but could he really say truthfully he was completely fearless of everything? What about those things out of his control? Surely he was a little fearful that something bad could happen to his family for instance? Of course, I can only see his situation from my own perspective.
I won't sit here & tell you how amazingly brave & fearless I've been throughout my life so far. No, in fact, step into my world for the next five minutes, & I'll show you the complete opposite in fact. I'd be lying if I said things don't scare me. What I can tell you though, when I've faced up to a particular fear, took the action I feared most, that's when the biggest leaps of progress in my life have been made. It's almost unbelievable when I look back at what I'd call milestones or key points in my life, & how they've come from taking an action that I was afraid of.
There was a period in my life, between the age of 16-22, I had this unbelievable (and slightly embarrassing) fear of being around people in social situations, not really a fear of people, but more a social anxiety. While my friends would spend their weekends in pubs & clubs, I'd always make last minute excuses, ridiculous excuses with really long stories as to why I couldn't go with them. Looking back on it now, I see it as such a wasted period in my life. Unlike any of my friends, I never experienced an 18th or 21st birthday party, either of my own, or of my friends, just because of a stupid fear at the time. I can sympathize with anyone who's going through the same thing now, it's a completely horrible situation, & one that we want to break, but don't really know how to.
For those seven years, my life was a complete bore. My life consisted of working as many hours as possible, with the rest of my time spent watching rubbish TV with my parents, whilst envying my friends & younger siblings who would be out partying.
My breaking point was the break down of a close family relationship. Just after finishing college, I was working away from home, & moved into my Grandfathers house in Nottingham. I'd always been very close to him, & there'd always been this kind of unspoken bond between us - He was a very straight talking, unemotional type, but everyone could sense the connection between us. I'd lived with him at that point, for probably around 6 weeks, but at the time it seemed like he dedicated his time purely to encouraging me to go out, and experience the local nightlife. 'Go get some talent' would be his daily words of advice.
With the increasing pressure to face my fear, one early morning while he was still sleeping, without any warning I packed my bags up, wrote a goodbye note, & moved out. A decision that I think about every week, and has haunted me ever since. Regrettably, it would be the last time I'd ever see him.
I think the guilt that I felt around our parting, flipped a switch inside my brain. Rather than even admit to my fear, I'd covered it up, broken a close bond, & hurt him in the worst possible way during the process.
For seven years, I'd put my life on hold. I'd lost friendships. I'd turned potential relationships away. Always using this false story, that following the path of my friends would mean I'd be unable to achieve the goals I wanted in my life. Actually deep down, I was just afraid of something that I couldn't even put my finger on.
And so it happened. I faced my fear. It didn't turn out half as bad as I'd expected, & I still even managed to achieve my goals at the time. The fact was, I achieved my goals, because I had a drive to achieve them, it had nothing to do with socializing, having relationships, etc like I'd told myself before. In fact, some friendships moved me closer to achieving certain goals.
Since then I've faced many fears, from leaving the family business we'd invested in and built up, pitching to investors, setting up new businesses, working with overseas companies, to even the really small things like cold calling a potential client, or even dare I say it publicly, asking a friend on a date.
Even though some of these didn't happen straight away, some took time to manifest the courage & make that jump, but after coming out of the other side, I can confidently say that each time I jumped into the fear, my life has improved significantly in some way.
One of my more recent challenges, was to stand on stage & give a talk in front of an audience. As with many people, public speaking scares the life out of me. It's certainly held back my career of late to a certain degree. Having received increasing numbers of invitations from people to speak at their event, I feel it's something I needed to really embrace & step into.
Practicing around the country at various Toastmaster events, speaking in front of small crowds of around 30 people, the incredible buzz that I experienced from just a few short minutes, gave me the encouragement that it was something I needed to take much more seriously as I move forward in my life & career. One year on from standing on that stage, & I can say with confidence it was an incredible buzz, after realizing the audience didn’t care about me, but rather more about the experience I was giving them.
So you've heard my story. My question to you. What fear is holding you back from moving forward in a particular area of your life? In your relationships, career, finances, or perhaps starting a new business? What's the worst that can happen? You've only got two choices: Make the jump now; or make it sometime in the future. If you choose the latter, imagine the lost opportunities, & time you'll have wasted in waiting. You WILL face your fear, it's human nature, like a cycle that keep coming around until we embrace it. It won't go away, the pressure will just build until you have to take action. You may as well do it sooner rather than later.
Make the jump, you'll be glad you did.
Have a great week.
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