I was recently stopped in the grocery store by a man who wanted to tell me that he enjoyed my column. During the brief discussion, the person asked, “Do you have a degree in journalism?”
“No,” I responded. “My degree is music education.”
“How did you become a columnist?”
“I decided I wanted to write a column. I wrote a few samples and submitted them to the managing editor.”
“And?” he asked.
“And they said yes,” I responded.
The man had a confused look on his face then asked, “Weren’t you afraid they’d say no?”
Fear for many, is debilitating. Fear keeps people from pursuing their dreams and traps them into living the life they are given rather than striving for the life they want. I think legendary motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar nailed it when he said, "Most fear is only false evidence appearing real."
Some fears are healthy. It’s natural to experience fear when we are in a life-threatening situation and fear is a useful tool to keep us from placing ourselves there.
That type of fear was defined by Walter Bradford Cannon as “Fight of Flight” fear. It kept the caveman from being eaten by the saber-toothed tiger and keeps “most of us” from doing dumb and dangerous things. Fear of some situations and circumstances are both normal and healthy. So, when someone tells you to live without fear, that may not be the best advice. However, most other fears are unrealistic and even irrational. They are often triggered, as Zig stated, by false evidence appearing real and can keep us from realizing our dreams.
So, what should you do? Defy the lie!
The voices in our head are often untruthful. Many, if not most, of our fears are rooted in our insecurities and lack of faith in our abilities. The voices in our head that tell us we are not smart enough, good enough or talented enough, create the insecurities that manifest themselves into unrealistic or irrational fear. If the voice sounds familiar, it should — it is yours. Your internal voice raises the doubt that turns into fear of acting, while discouraging you from venturing out from the life you have into the life you want.
Author and medical professional, Bronnie Ware, writes in her book, “Regrets of the Dying,” that two of the top five regrets are caused only by our fear. No. 1 is “I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me” and No. 3, “I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.” Fear of what others might think triggers both.
Being who you are meant to be takes courage but even more so in becoming who you aspire to be.
I’m fortunate. I grew up in a home where there was no money for college. I had to take a job selling vacuum cleaners, door-to-door on straight commission to earn money for tuition. I was frightened almost beyond my ability to cope. The irrational fear of knocking on doors almost brought me to tears during my first few weeks, but I quickly learned that almost all the things I was afraid would happen, did not.
Under most circumstances, I would have given up before I started, but my fear of not attending college was greater than my fear of having a door slammed in face. I survived the summer and earned enough to pay a year’s tuition, then came back for more each summer until I graduated from college, debt free. Along my journey, several of my friends saw the money I was earning and decided to give selling a shot, but most gave up before the first day ended. Their fear kept them from the success they could have enjoyed.
If it’s worth having, it’s worth overcoming your fear to obtain it. My column is now in its second year, but I still experience the moments of doubt every Monday morning as I press the button to submit it to this publication. The same is true with my books and my video blogs on my YouTube Channel. When we produce or create work that comes from our head and heart, then put it out there for others to experience, there will always be those who disagree or criticize what we do. That’s life. At those moments, I always remind myself that no one ever erects a statue of a critic.
Do not fear criticism. Anyone can criticize. It’s easy, but to accomplish something that matters, you must overcome your fear.