Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

Many years ago I read a book by Susan Jeffers called, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.  It was during that time when I was in the thick of my self-help seminars and was reading anything and everything that promised to give me courage, confidence, and charisma.

If we are to believe the headlines, the news, or the security at the airports, we should be terrified at all times and have no reason to relax into the temporary truce with the okayness of the present moment.  After all, anything can happen at any moment.  And unfortunately, unspeakable and inexplicable things do. 

But these are not the things I’m encouraging you to face.  The kinds of fears I’m suggesting we all face are the ones that hold us back from doing the very things we must do to grow into the vision of ourselves we hold dear. 

We all know what we’d do if we could quit our day jobs and pursue our passion.  But publicly pursuing it and putting ourselves on the line can be so terrifying that we keep that day job until it sucks the life out of us or we can comfortably retire.

No one can fault us for making a living.  But we may have a hard time living with ourselves if we never attempt to pursue our passion in some small way.  Maybe we sing in the church choir or at karaoke bars with our friends instead of trying out for some larger than life venue? Or maybe we start that restaurant with some pals or start that novel at night while keeping our day job?

Years ago I had an epiphany while I attending a workshop based on Julia Cameron’s book, “The Artists Way.”  It went something like this.  There is no “someday” when I finally make it that I’ll get to stop trying so hard and the creative path will be easy.  Life is an endurance event.  It ain’t over, ’til it’s over.  Consequently, I’ve adopted the tortoise as my totem.  And a quirky sense of humor as my super power.

The first truth about fear Susan Jeffers stated in her book was, “The fear will never go away as long as you continue to grow.”  Sure, we might get better at dealing with certain situations, especially if we find ourselves in them enough times, but as long as we’re dealing with the unknown, there are bound to be butterflies.  No one is exempt.  The good news is those butterflies can be trained to fly in formation.

Today I came across what may be the most inspiring TED talk to date.  In this talk by Joe Kowan, he addresses how he overcomes stage fright. It should be required watching/listening for Public Speaking classes or anyone who is ever asked to address an audience.  The thing I love about this guy is he is so real and willing to be vulnerable and express what we all feel.  Clearly he’s nervous as he tells us, but that only makes it better.

Most of the speakers at the TED talks are smart, poised, polished, and articulate.  I’ve done my share of presenting and I can tell you, I would be terrified to speak not only in front of the crowd but to an infinite internet audience with unlimited access.  Still, many of the presenters appear to be unaware of that pressure and are passionately focused on their message. 

Maybe if I only had 18 minutes to tell the world what I cared about the most, I’d be succinct, articulate, funny and well-rehearsed. But I’m guessing I’d be scared out of my wits and possibly pass out.  Even so, I’d surely feel the fear and do it anyway if it was my one and only chance to speak what’s in my heart.  I’m guessing you would, too.

Fortunately for most of us, we get an audience of family, friends, coworkers, and maybe a few followers as our captive audience for a few moments each day.  They forgive us for all kinds of foul ups, or in my case typos, posts that were accidentally sent out before finished, spelling and grammar gaffes, and using “affect” when I mean “effect”.   

I get to do it over daily and I’m still far from being fearless about hitting the publish button.  But I do it anyway.  (Because miracle of all miracles, I can go back and correct my mistakes on the blog before too many people catch them.  My followers, bless you, get to see it all.)

Share if you dare in the comments below, what gets you shaking in your boots but you’re committed to doing anyway?

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