What Do You Fear
Fear is embedded in the stories we tell ourselves. From the fear of public speaking and small spaces to spiders and snakes, most people can readily identify something they are afraid of. Left unchecked, fear can creep up on you and begin to seize control of your choices. When that happens, I encourage you to face it head-on – be willing to feel uncomfortable, anxious, embarrassed, or judged – and take back your control.
Caroline – The Wise One
I had the genuine honor of hosting the great Caroline Ferguson on this week’s episode of Collective Conversations. She is the accomplished interviewer of the Solutions by Southwest Utility podcast and is just a tremendous human overall.
As we kicked off the episode this week, Caroline reminded me that I was the first guest on her podcast back in 2018! She shared the story from her perspective – it was the first time she had ever traveled alone, and she was terrified. She arrived at our offices to sit down for the interview and she was so nervous – hands shaking, heart pounding armed with a laptop and small microphone. I remember feeling her anxious energy and before we hit record, I recall saying something along the lines of “Hey. We are just two people having a chat over a cup of coffee.” When you listen to that interview today, it’s hard to tell that she was anything other than a seasoned pro.
Caroline felt the fear and did it anyway. She knew in her gut that if she wasn’t willing to face her fears and do the work, she would struggle to create intentional connections and build genuine relationships with others in the industry. She makes a valid point that we consider growth as it relates to sales, rents, bottom line, etc., but growth should also be counted in relationships without regard to whether you ever do business together.
Free Your Mind – The Rest Will Follow
Last year, we discussed this topic. Conquering fears is not accomplished in one fell swoop. If the thought feels overwhelming, it is not necessary to become instantly fearless – but just to fear (a little) less – just enough less to allow you to take the next step. Small steps lead to bigger steps and eventually to a life less encumbered by fear.
In our conversation this week, I could feel Caroline’s command of the medium as our chat moved on to the topic of leadership – something she feels passionately about. Facing her fears paid such big dividends in her life and freed up her mind to build on her aspirations.
Caroline spoke eloquently about leadership and the importance of listening. She credits her mentor with saying, “Listening is so close to love that most people can’t tell the difference.” What a profound statement! Listening with intention (and without distraction) is the most loving thing we can offer another human. It conveys a simple message – I see you, I hear you, and you are worth my time. What you are saying is more important than whatever is trying to pull my attention away. That feels a lot like love to me.
You can live your life without ever facing your fears, but it is almost guaranteed to be a smaller life than you are destined for. Fears can slowly shrink your life but trusting yourself to fear (enough) less is like a muscle. The more times you do it – the stronger your courage becomes, and fear begins to wither. As your courage grows so does your sphere of influence, your ability to connect with others and to listen intently.
My encouragement to you is this – shut down the stories you tell yourself that constrain you from reaching for your goals be they professional, personal, relationships, or other. Don’t restrict yourself – fear (just a small bit) less.
When you feel the thrill of facing your fears and doing the thing anyway, please share it with us. We are encouraged by your stories.
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Lately, I have been thinking about durability – what lasts and what doesn’t and the things we hold onto versus what we should toss.
My wife grew up in a rural area of Wisconsin. She is a big fan of Carhartt and has owned some of their clothing for more than twenty years. I had the opportunity to learn more about their brand while shopping for a gift on my wife’s wish list. Carhartt’s claim of durability is justified – just ask their 1.2 million followers on Instagram.
Not Durable – Failure
In interviews with more than 100 people at the top of their fields, Tim Ferriss found they all shared two habits: 1. They ask ‘absurd’ questions and 2. They deconstruct fear. In the article, Francis Ford Coppola is quoted as saying, “Failure is not necessarily durable. You can go back and look at it and go, ‘Oh, that wasn’t a failure. That was a key moment of my development that I needed to take, and I can trust my instinct.”
If failure is not durable, why do we hold on to it? When engaging in real open-hearted conversation, most people can quickly recall and recount moments of failure – so much so that it feels like failure is cataloged in our brains for easy recollection.
Failures related to poor decisions can be quickly rectified in a culture of honesty and safety. Bad choices lead to better ones when shared openly with a team dedicated to group success. The only thing worse than a wrong decision is making NO decision – the GPS can’t let you know that you’re headed in the wrong direction until you start moving.
I find that failures related to character are the hardest to let go of. When I haven’t lived up to my personal values or acted in a way that contradicts them – those failures cut deep. They happen in business and personal relationships. I don’t know about you, but I find that I can readily recall those failures – can actually feel them in my body when I think about them.
But here’s the thing – even those personal character failures are not durable, and there is no value in holding on to them forever. Once you do the work – the personal character work – to reflect, course correct, and make amends for those failures – it is time to release them.
Past vs Future
Carrying around the weight of the past takes up personal bandwidth that is better used to serve your current and future purpose. Acknowledge past failures for the lessons they provided and move on. It’s easier said than done – but it is worth the effort.
What do you consider to be durable – important enough to keep? And what are you holding on to that is past its expiration date?
Let us know what you think.
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