A Big Bear Hug for Fear

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” 

— Eleanor Roosevelt legs on a springboard

Maybe you were the kid who hurried up the high-dive ladder, strolled confidently to the end of the board and launched without hesitation into the water. Or maybe you were the one who got to the top and could barely bring yourself to baby-step out to the end. Maybe you needed a moment of contemplation (and taunts from the kids who were waiting) to finally let yourself step off and faaaaaaallllllllllllll into the water.

A lot of people spend a good amount of time wishing they were the former, but we think there’s a lot more to be gained from the latter. Yeah—it’s better to be scared. To “feel the fear and do it anyway.” Because if you weren’t scared in the first place, what would you gain from the experience?

Safe and comfortable may feel pretty sweet sometimes, but it doesn’t get you much more than that. There’s just no growth in it. It’s more of a stagnant pond than a roiling sea, if you’ll permit us more water-related metaphors.

Do you remember that sensation of doing something that scared you? Maybe it wasn’t jumping off the high dive but making a date or negotiating your salary. Maybe it was saying “I love you” first. Maybe it was deciding to move across the country.

We’d put money on none of that being as scary as you thought it was going to be. It’s human nature, of course, to inflate the fear factor of the stuff we’re nervous about. When you embrace your fears and do what you want anyway, you see what you’re made of—and it’s a whole bunch more than you would have imagined.

So here’s our challenge to ourselves (and to you) in the new year: push through. Stare down a fear or two every week, whether it’s a relatively benign fear, like inviting a new friend to lunch, or a mondo fear, like the career change you’ve long wanted to make.

Because backing down the ladder of the high dive has never given anyone the slightest exhilaration.

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