I was sitting with Robert, a mentor and coach of mine, the other day, and I asked him, “What is one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you were my age?” His answer surprised me.
He said to me, “I wish I spent more time out of my comfort zone.” He went on to describe how the most uncomfortable times in his life were the ones that not only refined him into the man he is today but also created the vast majority of the success he’s had at work and with his family and friends.
It made me think about what it was that kept me in my comfort zone. What was it that pushed back every time I considered doing something different, something powerful, something uncomfortable.
It is fear. More accurately, anxiety, or fear of what could be, and I’m writing this article today to tell you, the way we use fear and anxiety in our decision making is fundamentally flawed. We use it to tell us what not to do, what to avoid, what to run from.
Why do we do this? Because it is how we are wired. Our brain is working overtime to help us do two things: survive and conserve calories. Fear is meant to tell us to run away from an angry bear and not walk too close to a mountain ledge or dance on thin ice. Fear keeps us alive, and for this, I am grateful.
The problem is, the fear center of your brain can’t discern between fear of what is and fear of what could be. This same mechanism that keeps us alive in the wild also causes us to back down from situations that “feel” physically or psychologically threatening, and it is unapologetically holding you back from doing your most important work.
What if you could transform fear from a foe to a friend? What if instead of using anxiety to figure out what not to do, you decided to use it to point to something you can do that would genuinely make a difference?
I believe fear is one of the primary indicators for what you SHOULD be doing.
We need you to be you. We need you to look into the fear of what could be, turn it around, and transform it into the dream of what could be.
You can deny fear in small things like speaking up in a meeting when everyone else seems to agree with each other. You can deny fear in big situations like your career. You can deny fear in meaningful things like how you teach your child the meaning of integrity or resilience.
It won’t be easy, and it certainly won’t be comfortable, but our past was paved by men and women who denied themselves the smooth and convenient road and changed their world.
Let’s deny our fears, get out of our comfort zones, and pave a new and better way for those who will follow in our footsteps.