Hi. I’ve got fifteen minutes and I’m thinking about fear today.
If you plotted fear on an axis, it might look something like this:
A very smart lady, Nancy Morris, once told me that in a training session (she’s teaches the art of accomplishment). It stuck with me long past the lesson itself. And now it’s absolutely, irrevocably cemented in my head because I have proof.
Here it is, my proof. Five things I’m not afraid to do anymore:
Wear a bathing suit. Show me a woman who thinks her body looks just perfect in a bathing suit, and I’ll show you—never mind, you won’t find her. Like most women, I wasn’t excited about pouring my aging, post-two-babies, plus-two-C-section-scars body into a bathing suit to take my toddler to the pool. But when I saw the absolute joy as he kicked and wiggled and experienced the water, I lost my fear of being judged for flab. Love conquers fear. I’ll take public humiliation any day for a chance to go swimming with my kids.
Talk back. From time to time at work in various jobs, I’ve butted heads with colleagues or managers. Sometimes, it’s a matter of opinion. Sometimes, it’s a matter of principle. I can shut up and take it, or I can speak up and try to change things. I choose the latter. I’ve learned that when I care more about doing a job than keeping it, I can be enormously effective. Love conquers fear, so I can stand on principle for the things that I’m passionate about, and as a result, get vastly greater satisfaction in my career.
Swing for the fences. I wrote a novel. That’s big—you put your butt in your chair for hours and hours and hope the muse meets you there. I’ve also supervised a complete kitchen remodel while seven and a half months pregnant, including sourcing all of the materials. I’ve gone to Egypt for weeks alone when friends wouldn’t go with me. I’ve moved away from my friends and boyfriend to take a new, vastly better job in Portland.
All of these things had huge potential for failure, but I’ve found that swinging for the fences is the best way forward. I’m not afraid to take risks because I might not accomplish what I set out to do. The alternative, not risking it, is that I will definitely not accomplish what I want to do.
Dabble. I embroidered a bunch of Christmas stockings for my family (ahem, I don’t sew). I started a blog. I tried Twitter, started and stopped and started again. I got an iPad and dozens of apps. I got a treadmill. I took the GMAT. I cut my hair (bangs for the first time in fifteen years). I tried silver nail polish (not a good look) and jeggings (comfortable, but weird). I bought quince at the farmer’s market.
I can’t tell you whether the quince thing will be good (I’m still searching for recipes), but I can tell you I’m happy I tried so many of these things. I might end up hating them, grow out my bangs, throw out my jeggings, and go back to my regular life. And that would be OK. I’m no longer afraid to try something and have it be an absolute failure. I order the weird things on the menu because, who knows? I might love it. And if I hate it, I’ll order something else.
Be real. A while ago, as I was working on a corporate communications strategy for Facebook, my boss and I were on the phone playing with Facebook’s groups functions, each of us on our own computers with our own accounts. I had just created a company page, and now I needed to add him as an administrator. Problem: He wasn’t my Facebook “friend.”
Uh-oh. “Don’t be friends with your boss on Facebook” is the number one cardinal rule of social media, is it not? Or even, “Don’t be Facebook friends with work people.” I’ve heard that before. So when my boss said, “Well, I guess you’ve got to add me as a Facebook friend now so I can be the admin for our company page, too,” I just did it, and damn the consequences.
Which were … none. Rather, nothing more than my boss kindly asking how my novel-writing weekend went (when I posted that as a status update). Happily, I’ve never put anything online that I’d be ashamed to have my grandmother or CEO read or see. But still—there’s definitely a work-life separation that I think most folks try to achieve. I, for one, am over it. I’ve gotten over the fear of being real. I’m just going to be me, seamlessly, in work and in life. The “Work Heidi” isn’t a different person from the “Home Heidi.”
So that’s me, I’m WYSIWYG. What about you? Do you have any fears? Hey, you’ve got fifteen minutes—start conquering them. GO.