In her book Lean In and the movement that it launched, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg challenges women to answer this question: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”. I think this is a positive message that helps bring self-awareness to limiting beliefs and barriers to courage. And she does implore women to “then go do it.” And I want to build on it and extend it.
For one, I do not wish to only address women. I want to address men also. Because fear holds a lot of people back.
In my work as a leadership development strategist, speaker, and facilitator, I meet a lot of people and unfortunately, way too many of them are playing too small, too safe.
I see a lack of courage – not Courage with a capital C like the kind that makes you run into a burning building and save babies and puppies. No. I mean 'small-c' courage -- the kind that lets you see your fears, face them square on, and take action toward your big, scary goals IN SPITE of that fear.
So I want to build on that question and make it more actionable. I want to "yes, and" it.
“Would do” implies that it is something that is abstract, in the wishing realm. Like something you can imagine but aren’t planning to actually act on. The word ‘if’ in “if you weren’t afraid” implies that in order to go and do that thing, you need to not be afraid.
But people who do amazing, courageous, and gutsy things absolutely feel fear.
What’s different about them is that they
- recognize and accept that fear will be present, and
- don’t use it as an excuse to avoid action.
They don’t wait for some magical future time when fear will not be present in order to act on their dreams or convictions.
They push forward in the face of fear – they act in spite of being afraid.
That is what defines courage.
So I’d like to take that question a step further and ask:
“What will you do even though you are afraid?”
I want you to face your fear and act. I want to help you build the courage to take those first steps, second steps, tenth steps, all the way to the destination and deal with the feeling of fear as a normal and natural side-effect of being fully alive.
Just imagine what you will be able to achieve if you WERE afraid but STILL took action to achieve your big, scary goals? Go do THAT!
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