Back in August, I stood on the roof of a houseboat on Lake Shasta, over a dozen feet above the surface of the water. My husband and my children had already jumped into the water. Now, I have always been afraid of heights. While I have no problem standing on the glass floor of London's Tower Bridge, a hundred feet over the water, climbing a ladder freaks me out.
While I stood up there, the placid beauty of Lake Shasta laid out before me, I asked myself, "who do you want to be?" Did I want to be a person who couldn't overcome an irrational fear--everyone else had already jumped in the same spot--or did I want to be the person who could. And I jumped. I was in the water a split second later. In reality, the jump felt like nothing more than jumping off a diving board. All that fear, and it felt like nothing.
Accomplishing great things involves risk. Think of any of the entrepreneurs who have built the companies you respect: all of them took tremendous risk. There's a million quotes by inspirational leaders on why you need to overcome fear or do the thing you think you cannot do. Everyone who ever did anything interesting and new and great in this world overcame their own fears to do it, and you can too.
Six months after that jump, I have done things I never imagined I would do. I enlisted in a coaching program, taking a financial risk by paying for it out of pocket since it was not part of my job. I made an appeal to the CEO of the major company for which I worked, to create a job that would allow me to fulfill my purpose while staying at the company I loved. It didn't work, sure, but I am incredibly proud to have done it. And, when that didn't work out, I have launched my own business offering coaching and workshops. I've ridden the biggest roller coasters in the park, literally and figuratively, even though I was afraid to. I've become a bigger person.
Do You Want to Be Someone Who Overcomes Fear?
Do you want to be the biggest, baddest you that you can be? Sit yourself down, right now. What don't you do because you're afraid? Hold a tarantula or a snake? Sing karaoke? Go skydiving? (I still need to do the last two.) Stand up and tell your boss what you think you should be doing at work? It's actually remarkably simple if you're willing to do it.
Start your fear log: write your fears down on post-its, and rate them from 1-5 on your fear scale. Keep it up to date and add new ones as you think of them. You can keep it somewhere public or somewhere that only you can see it.
Put an accomplishment log in a prominent place: at your desk, on your mirror in your bedroom, and your computer at work. What's important is that you see it every day. And make sure that every day for 30 days--starting today--you do something that overcomes one of your fears. One at a time, move a fear from your fear log to your accomplishment log as you overcome that fear. Why today? Because there is no reason you can't do something to overcome a fear today. You don't need to start by whitewater rafting or swimming with sharks. You can start by speaking up in a meeting even though you're afraid of sounding dumb. You can start small.
Schedule a celebration at the end of thirty days, whether by yourself or with all your family and friends. Celebrate your successes, especially the big, four and five-star successes. And no matter the outcome of what you do, overcoming your fear is success.
And check out this awesome and entertaining TED talk: Michelle Poler, "100 Days without Fear." If she did it, and I did it, so can you.