Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”³ It’s a funny quote with a lot of wisdom. So much of what we fear never happens. And yet so much of what we fear is what keeps us from living out our dreams. We are afraid of how others will perceive us. We are afraid of rejection from our family and friends. We are afraid of the unknown.
I’ve been there myself. At times I’ve been brave and pushed through those fears. Because of inexperience I’d both succeeded and fallen flat on my face. I moved to Nashville at age 23 without a job or a place to live. A week later, I had both. I’ve also taken risks that cost me dearly later. I’ve also not taken risks that I regretted later.
This week’s book of the week is 4 – Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris. I’ll admit I’ve been on and off skeptical of the book. But now that I’m digging into it, I can tell you that I wish I would have read it sooner. It’s good for a little kick in the butt for those of us finding excuses of why we can’t achieve our dreams. “What are you putting off out of fear? Usually, what we most fear doing is what we most need to do. That phone call, that conversation, whatever the action might be – it is fear of unknown outcomes that prevents us from doing what we need to do. Define the worst case, accept it, and do it… …What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do. As I have heard said, a person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have. Resolve to do one thing every day that you fear.”¹
How many times have you let fear stop you from being your best? Or doing something that you love? Sometimes we have to push ourselves past our momentary fears to get to where we want to be. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. It’s easy to get into the habit of being okay with the way things are. But it’s like the lobster being slowly boiled and not jumping out before it’s too late. “Measure the cost of inaction, realize the unlikelihood and repairability of most missteps, and develop the most important habit of those who excel and enjoy doing so: action.”²
I started to think about all the things I knew I could do and what was really stopping me. I didn’t name it before, it was cloaked in excuses like wanting to prepare and waiting for the right time. But the real thing stopping me was fear. As soon as I started deciding that next week I would start taking the massive action that I needed to take, fear and doubt started to creep in. I started feeling an actual sinking in my stomach. Usually that’s my signal that it’s the right action.
I absolutely love how Admiral Stockdale puts it, “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.'”4 It’s not about being optimistic or pessimistic. It’s a matter of being aware of what obstacles you might face and being realistic about them, but believing that you will come through in the end. And I’m finding more and more through this journey of reading that being able to balance the two is the secret of most successful people and teams. They have the audacity to be hopeful and the courage to face their fears.
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Vigilant Poster Girl
- The 4 – Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris Pg 46 – 47
- The 4 – Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris Pg 47
- The 4 – Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris Pg 45
- Good to Great by Jim Collins pg 85