Imagine sleeping in a cave and you hear a twig snap nearby. Then a faint voice can be heard in a language you don’t understand. Clearly two (or more) people are communicating and closing in on your location. Hearing this, you are probably not going to roll over, fluff your rock pillow, and go back to sleep. You are going to be on high alert and ready to defend yourself with whatever weapon you can muster. This is the point of fear. Fear protects us.
Fear is meant to guard us from danger. However, our lives and lifestyles have evolved in ways where we are less likely to be attacked in our caves by an enemy tribe and more likely to feel foolish in front of our social tribes. It is this fear; rather, our response to this fear that holds us back from trying new things. There is nothing more intimidating to an aspiring writer than a new post for a new blog or the first few words on a project to be shared with others. But after the first few words, the next few are much easier.
Jon Acuff’s book, Start. Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, Do Work that Matters, really takes this concept to a whole new level. In Chapter 3, he has a section titled “Ignore the Voices” where he breaks down some of the voices of fear that creep in. I don’t know about you, but I experience all of these and his book has been a great tool to help me through them.
- Who are you to do that? Fear tries to make us feel like an imposter and define exactly “what” we are. We say we want to coach our kid’s soccer team and fear tells us “Who are you to do that? You never played the game.” We need to respond differently and realize the most likely outcome will be some great quality with our child. There isn’t a support group for failed rec league soccer coaches, so it mustn’t be too treacherous.
- You’re too late. Jon makes the best point here…”‘If you had more time, you could get it all done.’ Nonsense. My definition of all would just grow. And why is ‘done’ the goal?” We are afraid to do something because we feel like we are too late based on some imagined timeline in our head. It is never too late to take the next step forward.
- It has to be perfect. Perfection is the greatest enemy of all. Have you ever done anything perfectly in your life on your first try? In the tech world, we launch a “good enough” or minimum viable product (MVP) and then perfect it as time goes by. That is why Apple didn’t make the iPhone and stop, they modify the software all the time and the hardware annually. We get to do the same thing with our goals too. Roll out something that meets the criteria and then modify as needed. It is better to get in the repetitions than it is to spend forever striving to be perfect.
We all know fear is real and it has a purpose. However, we need to ask if our fear is protecting us from an enemy tribe or is it preventing us from reaching a goal.