You’ll notice that over time they become fearful of speaking up–in case they are wrong–or they become fearful of putting in extra hours in case no one notices (so why give it more than the basic requirement) or, for many, I see that they are fearful to step out of or away from the comforts of their home, their job or their group of friends. I find it curious that so many once-fearless people now seem to make a place for fear at their table and allow fear to eat every meal with them in their ever shrinking world.
It’s hard to notice when this change actually occurs; it’s usually a gradual veering off the main road unless something traumatic happens. It doesn’t usually occur overnight and that’s what makes this so dangerous. In the business world, it’s what we call mission creep–where slowly things change and not usually for the better.
I’m sure you’ve seen it, and if you’re like me, you can’t put your finger on the exact day or time it happens for many people, but you watch it unfold with a mix of wonder and curiosity and probably a bit of sadness.
We remember our friends when they were younger, when they were open and happy and free and then the next time you see them you notice that they are closed, guarded and are increasingly cynical about everything.
Now, of course, not everyone is affected like this. For some it is a gradual slide from one end of the spectrum to the other. From being fearless (within reason) to do big things and take massive action and to believe that success is attainable…to then see it cross some unseen line where you see people become hesitant instead of taking action, or they allow fear to become a way of life where they don’t dare rock the boat.
So how can we make sure this doesn’t happen to us and perhaps change the course of this sad direction for our friends? How can we keep the idea of being fearless in the forefront of our minds to move us in the proper direction for outrageous success?
Well I have three ideas I’d like you to consider:
- You need to learn to trust yourself
- You need to shrink your fear
- And always expect the best
Let me start with the idea of learning to trust yourself.
I recently re-connected with a friend I had in high school. When were we younger she was one of the most popular girls in my school. She was nice, funny, enthusiastic, energetic–I really can’t say enough nice things about her. She was terrific and good to everyone.
When we got together a while back, I was very surprised to see that she had changed and not in a good way. The person I see today occasionally gives me glimpses of who she was back then–that amazing young fearless woman of so many years ago–but today I find her fearful and a bit withdrawn. You see, life has thrown some very hard curve balls at her and a few of them have hit her in between the eyes (so to speak), and now that once-fearless young girl is a very different fearful person. In our conversations she confided in me about her wrecked marriage, kids who have gone off track and the bills and debts that have piled up that keep her up at night.
She said that she gets my weekly newsletter and that’s what prompted her to reach out to see if an old high school friend had any words of encouragement for her. Wow! If you had told me when we were younger that I would be giving her advice, I never would have believed you…but here we are sitting together over coffee with me remembering who she once was and seeing now who she has become.
In looking at her and listening to her story, all I could think of to say was to encourage her to do three very hard yet needed life choice, because, remember, most everything in life is a choice. She needs to…
- learn to trust herself again by
- shrinking her fear and
- actively seek and expect the best…
as she moves forward in life, because I believe that deep within her soul, cutting through all the years of pain was still the nice, funny, enthusiastic, energetic lady who had a life plan that was big and fearless.
My thought was, if she could shrink the overwhelming fear of her current situation, she would begin to make better, more clear-headed choices for her life. Obviously, not easy to do, but once she was at least one paycheck ahead she could rest a bit easier. And if she would trust my advice to consider the inward choice of expecting better things in life for her over time, I really believe good things would happen to her. And once she had a chance to see her life improve little by little, she could take a bigger step in the right direction. In her case, visualizing the life she wanted and needed would be a big step in believing that she could–with work–accomplish a few small goals that would lead to larger successes.
As we talked, I told her that in my own life, when things were tough, I had to remind myself of the times I was successful, and that no matter what comes against me I will not let fear be a part of my life, and she should not let fear have a foot-hold in hers; if she could just find that place (in her not too distant past), then the person she was for almost half of her life–the nice, funny, enthusiastic, energetic, wonderful self –could find her way forward fearlessly. I’m not saying it would be easy, but it was a path she had followed before and she could follow again on her way to a new view of her current situation.
I have a friend who says that in life most people really never change; that they are still who they were in high school–they’re just a grown up version of that person now.
Interesting when you think about it that way, and with regard to my friend, I hoped that sentiment was true so she could get back up in life without fear holding her down, by simply learning to trust herself again and knowing that what steps she takes for herself in a positive way would yield a lifetime in successful results.
It is hard to move forward when you don’t know what path to take, but I have found that if you will just learn to trust yourself, you have a starting point where you can put a stake in the ground and start walking. And know this, while you’re walking your new path, you will still have to do the hard work of shrinking your fear–that is the mental part of this equation. You cannot allow the negative thoughts of fear and failure to enter your mind or weigh you down so much so that you can’t see the light of day.
Forcefully choosing to think in a different way is the only choice you have that can help you to push past your fear. No one can shrink fear for you. You have to face it and kick it out of your way and keep walking! Why? Because I have always believed that if you expect the best for your life, you’re half way there. And, for some today, that is the only healthy choice for you to live your best life ever.
I had someone email me a while back about I show I did where I encouraged my listeners to expect the best and walk in the way of success, and I used the phrase act as if and it very well might come to pass. He wrote me saying that he didn’t buy into my feel good conversation of expectations and acting as if for a positive outcome. He went on to say how his life was in turmoil and nothing good was going his way and complain, complain, complain to which I wrote back saying, “…since your way isn’t working out so well for you, maybe you should consider mine: learning to trust yourself again by shrinking your fear and actively seeking and expecting the best as you move forward in life. At this point, I didn’t see that he had many other options.
Life is funny like that–you can consider the light at the end of the tunnel as the oncoming crushing train, or you can imagine it is truly the light at the end of your struggles if you’ll just keep going by learning to trust yourself, shrinking your fear and expecting the best. By putting this plan into action you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
There is no need to live this amazing life fearfully. You were made for more than that.
Ah, friend, live fearlessly–that is your higher calling…and I believe that, deep down inside, you know that’s the right path for you.