He only moves forward by
sticking his neck out.
Eleanor Roosevelt wrote that fear is one of the worst stumbling blocks we have to face (You Learn by Living, 1960). Fear keeps us from asking for what we want, from fully leveraging our talents and capabilities, and can impact our ability to fully experience life as we hold ourselves back.
I have experienced these issues firsthand. Whether it's a fear of heights or a fear of rejection or a fear of vulnerability, my fears get in the way of the *real* me shining through. This year I'm on a 40 in 14 mission: to have at least 40 new and different experiences that stretch my comfort zone and help me grow. So far this year, I've experienced several first-time experiences. I've shared some of them below, along with the underlying fear that I faced with each experience.
- Joining a mastermind group (Fears: what can I contribute? How can I help these people? How can they help me? What if I don't get out of it what I invest in it?)
- Attending a conference alone for a topic I knew little about (Fear: What if I don't belong here?)
- Exhibiting at a national conference for the first time as a business owner (Fear: I'm not good enough to be here, who do I think I am?)
- Participating in a body-movement class (Fears: Vulnerability from getting too close to others, What will others think of me? What if I don't do it right?)
- Joining a committee at my church (Fear: I shouldn't be doing this, I've only recently connected to my spiritual self; I'm not as familiar with the church body as others are. What if they think I'm a fraud?)
- Taking my first vacation without my daughter, leaving her with family for four days (Fear: What if something goes wrong or happens to her? What if our plane crashes and we don't make it home? What if I actually enjoy it/what will that say about me as a mother? What if she doesn't miss us?)
- Kayaking (Fear: Am I strong enough to maneuver it? What if I don't do it right? What if we tip over?)
- Parasailing (Fear: What if we crash?)
- Hot yoga (Fear: What if it's too hot? What if I pass out? What if I can't do it?)
- Art classes (Fear: Do I belong here? What will the real artists think? What if I find out I'm really not creative?)
The easy path is often to pass on the opportunity, to say no, to stick my head in the sand. But what do I learn by doing that? Only to continue taking the safe route. It may sound cliche, but each time I do something new and look a fear square in the face, I truly do come out stronger on the other side. Addressing my fears, big and small, is helping me to become a stronger person. The real me is beginning to emerge.
How are your fears holding you back?
When was the last time you stuck your neck out?
When did you last push yourself - even if just a little bit - past your comfort zone?