Have you ever been so scared of failing you were frozen in fear?
Me too. More times than I expected would happen.
Earlier this month I launched my new website while feeling scared out of my mind. Well not by the time I hit publish, but there were several moments leading up to it that felt like swimming through mud, tangly weeds gripping my ankles underneath the surface.
Each time I felt that way I would wonder if it was a sign I should stop. Admittedly, I look for the easy path, the choices that feel natural, and most of the time it's helpful. So when this is hard happens I usually run for the exit while looking for reasons why the hard-ness is a sign. Because everything can be a sign, right?
Any number of times in the process of creating the new home for Simply Leap, I thought I should turn back, give up, delay longer, anything but keep going. Most times what got me through my fear to take one-more-incremental-step was telling good friends I was scared. People who know what it's like to try something new and want more than anything to turn back. And others who are Zen masters of focus and drive; it's not that they don't get scared, they just don't stop long enough to consider it. From the former I felt comforted that I wasn't alone, and from the latter I learned I could choose not to look at what could get in my way.
Why I finally hit publish was after listening to Reshma Saujani's TED Talk on teaching girls bravery and not perfection. How some of us as girls were taught to be perfect, to get it right or else, that failure could mean losing respect, love, attention, belonging...instead of what boys were taught to try everything, jump off jungle gyms, see what happens, brush yourself off and go for it all over again.
If I'm trying to get it right all the time, how will I ever really go for it? How will you?
No wonder it felt so hard, I was swimming through get it right or else mud. I was scared to try anything because the stakes were so high if I got it wrong.
Reshma ended with: "I need each of you to tell every young woman you know to be comfortable with imperfection." Take off the young part, and add a yes, please.
Another video, this one from Business Insider, being shared lately on social media has a similar message: Spanx CEO Sara Blakey redefining failure as a good thing, and not-trying as the real failure. A lesson she learned from her dad.
Maybe these, and the good friends you lean on, will keep you Doing It Anyway the next time you'd rather hide in fear. Not knowing if you'll get it right means you could fall or knock it out of the park. Either way you still get the love, respect, belonging from people you trust, including me. Time to jump off a jungle gym!
What helps you move through fear?
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