Posts tagged Fear
Going first

If the choice is clear, if the best is obvious, if the food is hot then, certainly, allowing others to go first is a generous decision.

If it's scary,
If it's unproven,
If it asks for vulnerability,
If it takes humility,
If it requires integrity,
If the outcome isn't certain,
If the way forward is unclear,

What a generous time to go first.

Leadership is about seeking out the opportunities to go first generously.

Comparison and an antidote

Comparison is an ever-present distraction in our current digital age with virtually unlimited, around-the-clock access to each other’s lives. We can always find someone smarter, better, more beautiful, and more popular than we are. It’s not even that hard.

And then the negative self-stories follow like a waterfall.

The enemy of Comparison? That would be Purpose.

What if rather than spending our time fending off fear, we spent more of our time seeking out something worth living for?

The story of where I’ve been

You know that feeling you get right before a decision where you know exactly what to do, and it scares the living daylights out of you? The one where your chest gets all tight? Maybe it gets hard to breathe.

It goes by a lot of names. Fear. Doubt; or maybe more accurately, self-doubt. I have a friend who calls it the Puke Zone. Truth be told, it’s all of those things. This is a story about that feeling.

As it turns out, there’s a cure for it — begin.

Merely start. Not because it’s easy; it’s not. Not because it’s natural; hardly. We start because once we begin, it becomes easier to continue. Slowly our chest loosens, our imposter quiets down, and we can once again focus on showing up with intention.

A couple months ago, my chest got tight. I largely unplugged from technology for two weeks and escaped into nature. When I returned, that tightness in my chest had formed a story about how I was out of learnings to share, that the end was inevitable so why re-begin, on and on and on.

You could try conquering all the negative self-stories, but let me save you the time, there’s always one more. This is the most reliable remedy I’ve found — beginning.

The stories aren’t gone, trust me! But now instead of spending my time running away from them I have something else to run towards. I’ve begun.

So that’s my story. And this is a new beginning. What’s yours?

Am I willing to change my mind?

If ever our answer is “No”, a decent next question could be, “Why not?”.

If someone were to bring different and better information to us that reveals the truth may be different than we previously thought, the rational thing to do would always be to consider its validity. And if proven true, be willing to change.

So if we’re unwilling, it could matter a great deal to us why exactly that is. Not just for this moment, but how we see all of life.

What are meetings for?

Are we truly making our people better?

Are we truly making our project better?

Are we doing the right, human, caring thing?

Until we can answer — specifically — how we are accomplishing one of these things in a way that can best be accomplished only through meeting, we might be best serving everyone to skip the event and simply do the thing we know we should do.

"I wish I could do that"

As I find myself more and more these days surrounded by incredible humans doing incredible things, I also have caught myself whispering this phrase in my head more and more often recently.

There’s a million reasons why I can’t do what they’re doing, I tell myself. I’m not smart enough, capable enough, available enough, driven enough, disciplined enough, generous enough, or talented enough.

Maybe. But the biggest reason I’m not doing what they’re doing is because I’m telling myself I can’t. I’m afraid to even try. Before even beginning, I’ve decided I’ll never make it. I’ve given in to my imposter.

To never start is to assuredly fail; to begin is to venture out bravely into the possibility of “maybe”.

We might not hit on 100% of our attempts, but at least we’re in the game. No one dreams of riding the bench. it’s time we sub ourselves into the game.

The things that aren't said

As humans in the 21st Century, we have become masters at hiding in plain sight. The existence of the internet, more social media platforms than we can count, and endless amounts of data about each one of us, we have — as a survival instinct — learned the art of personal branding. And so we carefully craft public personas for ourselves that often reveal everything that we’re really proud of, and nothing that we’re not.

Much smarter people than I have written about the harm we unwittingly do to ourselves when we live this way.

Just as important though — the harm those we care about may unwittingly be doing to themselves. If the temptation exists for us to hide from the world, our world, the things we’re not proud of, then it probably exists for others. And probably much closer to home than we want to accept.

So what can we do?

Look for the hiding. We’ve been trained to mask our fears behind veiled hints and cryptic phrases, so as to look stoic and strong to a random passer-by. These things matter to us though, we actually want to get them out of us, we’re merely afraid. We could use some help. Repeated thoughts or words, personality tics, passionate opinions/reactions, they can all be signs of something bigger going on inside of us that wants us.

We can look for this in those we care for. Take the time to see them, listen, and press in with curiosity to the places that seem like they matter. They probably do. If we can create a safe place for others to be vulnerable, we can then begin to find a new place to stand with them as a different way forward.

Go first. We can make a difference for others by choosing to do the courageous work of modeling what healthy looks like. Rather than stuffing our guilt, shame, and fears deeps inside of us, share them with those we care about and trust. Reframe for them the belief that doing so is weak; it’s actually strong. In doing so, we take a step towards creating a safe environment for us to do it again, and for them to do the same.

It’s hard, it’s risky, and often, it’s terrifying. It’s also an incredibly generous gift to give both ourselves and others.

We might find that the things that aren’t often said are the exact things that make all the difference.

What will we decide?

We’re one decision away from the worst decision of our life; a clear picture of the impact each moment holds.

We’re also one decision away from changing someone’s life; a clear picture of the possibility each moment holds.

We’ve been tricked into believing the lie that the worst thing we can do is make a bad decision. And because of our fear, we stopped looking for our unmade decisions. It wasn’t long before that led us to time wasting, and time wasting to losing a sense of the true value a single moment holds, and thus we lost sight of the value each moment holds.

So now we see. The moments of our life matter.

We may say it’s fine to skip this one moment because another one is coming shortly. Another one may come, but this one will never return. It matters.