I was part of this 9-day intensive and at one point we were all asked to put in the chat, “what does Micha need to hear”. Without hesitation, I wrote “Step out, you’ll grow your wings”. I saw with such clarity that she was holding herself back. Paralyzed by her deeply entrenched fear, yet she had such certainty in what she wanted to do. It was this push and pull of wanting to be seen, and also of not wanting to be seen. She struggled to get out of her own way to move forward and find the courage on the other side of her fear.
Fear had me at a standstill so many times in my life. Fear is never discriminating – whether a small initiative that pushed me out of my comfort zone, or some monumental life choice. It shows up and it knows the right moment to show up. And regardless of how small or how big a move I needed to make, the monster always felt the same – big and intimidating. Fear may come in different sizes. But what I know for sure, is that the longer you allow it to be by your side, the bigger it becomes and deeper you sink into the quicksand.
Breaking through the fear?
I was called fearless, resilient and courageous throughout my career. I look back and realize two things. Most of the time it was about confidence – Mastery was always a fall back. And where I was truly fearful, I never moved. Instead, I dug my heals in deeper. Fought harder to stay afloat, not to change or shift. To survive through deflection.
The deflection was the avoidance of the truth.
As I look back, I realize that in my marriage, it was fear of being courageous enough to stand in my truth after wedded to a path that had commitment. Being courageous and stepping away would be unleashing the verbal and financial repercussions. Fear had a way of making this feel insurmountable.
As for my career, it was being complacent within a world of other’s peoples dreams and beliefs. If I walked away from a career of success trophies to follow my heart and do some foo foo kind of work. It was the fear of being judged as a failure. Fear made me believe there was only one road to success.
If I changed . . . if I moved on . . . if I left … I’d be turning everything I knew upside down. I’d be called crazy, irresponsible. It would be like throwing a grenade into my life.
My fears stemmed from my shackles of should, attachment to money and my inability to unearth and embrace my true self.
So I stayed in a marriage and a corporate career for far too long. Until I made a choice. In that pivotal moment, my heart rose above all the fear and all the self-doubt.
- Courage to show up as my true self.
- Courage to forge a new path.
- Courage to be gracefully unapologetic.
A monumental decision with a tumultuous path. And what allowed me stay on that journey was my detachment from the money. It couldn’t be about the money. You can always make it back. It had to be about the preservation of my soul and the anticipated joyful future.
- Self-Preservation – mandatory
- Feeling and expressing Joy – paramount
I had no plan, although I had clarity on where I wanted to go. The vision was big enough to move through me.
So I would just step out and know that I would grow my wings and fly.
As I looked back on my journey (look back, but don’t stare as my mom would always say to me), there are a few principles that kept my little voice in check. You know the one I’m talking about. The one that can talk you out of things. The one the snuffs out the passion in your heart.
For me that little voice constantly appears when I’m about to post an article, especially like this one. So when that little voice appears, I thank it for keeping me in the space of humility; it’s done it’s job. Now take a backseat so my soulful moxie can step into the driver’s seat and pave my road forward.
When fear elbows you for room to stay in the front seat, here are some of my go to’s to quiet that inner voice that engages fear . . .
1. You and Your Gifts are Powerful – It is our gifts, our uniqueness that allows us to shine brightly. Why would we want to minimize our greatness? You are uniquely you and your message, your thoughts, your point of view matters. The world is about diversity. Show up in your authentic truth.
2. Lead With Your Heart – Sideline Your Head – The thoughts in your head can be so very powerful. Logic is great in the world of analytics. Our head is the logic. Imprinted with all the ‘shoulds’ and fears from our life. The head’s volume on these deeply entrenched memories and fears can easily take over the conversation and paralyze us to run from the one thing that will set us free.
Our heart engages are body and our senses. It speaks our truth. It’s speaks with passion, conviction, creativity and compassion. It’s doesn’t need a drafted script because it speaks with ease from one’s truth.
3. What’s the Worst that Could Happen When You Lean In? – It’s the inner voice between our ears that creates all the chaos. The things we think will happen 90% of the time never do. We’ve projected a reality that doesn’t elevate us, but rather pulls us down. Just lean in. The naysayers will always be naysayers. You can’t convert them. So stop trying.
- Do it. If they don’t respond, you build your clarity muscle.
- Do it. If they love it, you learn what resonates.
- Step out. Lean in. Shine in your brilliance.
4. Feel and Embrace the Fear and Do it Anyway – The Ultimate Act of Courage – Rip the bandage off. It’s like jumping into the pool on a hot summer’s day. Stick a toe in and the water feels excruciatingly cold. Jump in – all in – and you experience the feeling of total refreshment. Jump into the fear and feel the cool relief wash over you.
5. Get okay with being knocked to your knees – The old adage of good things don’t come easy. Fail fast. Fail forward. You’ve got to put in your reps.
Remember when you first learned to ride a bike? How many skinned and bruised knees did you get. Maybe even a few broken bones? And then you learned. And in that moment when you realized you were peddling all by yourself, you were elated, accomplished and had the most incredible feeling of freedom!! Be like that little child again. Fearless to take it on. Get your practice in and taste the joy of freedom.
6. Put the Boxing Gloves Down – The more you fight fear, the more it anchors a hold. Like quicksand, the more you struggle, the deeper you go, the harder it is to climb out. Relax into it to find your way out. And like a racing car driver, lean into the curve to successfully come out the other side.
7. Vulnerability is the Ultimate Expression of Courage – The fear of failure, the fear of bearing all, the fear of being seen and judged. Societal stigmas. Being seen is the ultimate of being authentically human. Life is to be lived. In living we express ourselves, we feel, and we are seen.
8. Choosing to Hold Has an Expiry Date – Then Lean In and Take Action – Making no decision is a decision. Sometimes that is the right decision. Sometimes you need to be sure before you lean in. That’s how I felt when I was deciding to leave my marriage. But there comes a point when you need to lean in and take action. Otherwise, you’ll be hanging in the abyss. Give choosing to hold an expiry date.
9. Fear Will Always Be By Your Side – Acknowledge It and Allow it to Help You Stay Humble – I like to equate fear to the ego, as salt is to sugary desserts. A healthy dose, keeps everything in check. It’s all about ying and yang. A little bit of salt in dessert ratchets down the overly sweet. Balances the sweet and allows it to still be the hero. A little bit of fear, keeps things in perspective and balances the conscious and the emotional.
I like to equate fear to the ego, as salt is to sugary desserts. A healthy dose, keeps everything in check. It’s all about ying and yang. A little bit of salt in dessert rachets down the overly sweet. Balances the sweet and allows it to still be the hero. A little bit of fear, keeps things in perspective and balances the conscious and the emotional.
Remember where this article started?
There’s a piece of the story that I didn’t share with you before, until now. After writing what I did in the chat, our mentor Rich asked me to say to Micha what I had written. So I did. Then he said, what if you replaced her name with yours and said it out loud. I froze. Almost like a trapped cartoon character and not knowing where to turn. I went to speak and my voice started to quake; it lagged behind what was going on in my head and as I spoke out loud, I gasped. Why had I become so unnerved in that moment?
You see, the paradox here, was that I wasn’t only speaking about Micha. I was speaking about me. The lessons that we need to learn continue to show up. And what we speak about most, are the lessons that we ourselves need.
We find our most courageous lessons, in the mirror.