True courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to proceed in spite of it.–Unknown
Leading can be simple. And it is not always easy. Sometimes just the thought of doing something as simple as raising your hand can make your heart race uncontrollably. It did for me back in school and at times it still does. What do we fear? After all, raising your hand is not usually a matter of life or death. Mostly I think we fear being embarrassed or even humiliated. What if I say the wrong thing? What if people laugh at me? What if my boss doesn’t like what I said? We fear losing our jobs. We fear being alienated from the group in some way. Perhaps the reason more people cite their fear of public speaking as stronger than their fear of death is because we actually have to live with what comes next.
We’ve all had those moments, which is probably why the fear can be so intense now. Some of us have had more of them than others. Yet it only takes one experience to embed the memory of how awful it feels deep into our souls. We need not feel bad about our fear though. Believe it or not there was a time in human history when being shunned from your group meant almost certain death. In today’s technology driven world we forget that we are social creatures who depend on each other for our survival. So perhaps there is more to this fear we think. It may even be coded into our DNA. Of one thing I am certain; it is real and it stops us.
TAKING ACTION IN SPITE OF OUR FEAR
The question is not “how can you eliminate the fear?” We can’t. The question is “what will it take for me to transcend my fear, to be willing to take the risk despite how scary it feels right now?” True, embarrassing moments, even bad things, might happen if we were to speak up, step up or stand up. Yet it is also true that the most amazing things could happen. We often think that the people who are willing to take that risk can take it because they have more confidence, they have more power or authority, they have less to lose, etc. Essentially we believe they must have something we do not. Hence they can and we cannot. I believe the only thing that separates the people who choose to lead from the people who do not is this: a reason that makes taking that risk far more compelling than their fear.
So what do you care about enough that could be more compelling than your fear? What difference do you want to make that could transform that moment of fear into a moment of exhilaration? It is not the enormity of the risk that matters. It is the willingness to take a risk, even a small one, to step outside your comfort zone for the sake of something that really matters to you. We all have fear, but will we let fear have us? Will we let that feeling of fear prevent us from creating the community, the workplace, the life or even the world we want?
I call those moments when your commitment to something inspires you to transcend your fear a “moment of courage”. You’ve already had these moments in your life. Many of them were probably unexpected. You don’t have to plan for them. Simply be on the lookout for an opportunity to act from your commitments in spite of your fear. Just remember to breathe…
A Moment of Courage – Part I
- 16 April 2014, 16 April 2014