3/15/2011

Ten Big Fears I Faced Head-On...And the Positive Results

Top Ten {Tuesday} I discovered years ago that one of the best ways to grow, mature, and improve your character is to force yourself into uncomfortable situations. Our tendency as humans is to run the other direction when faced with something we fear. That's what Seth Godin refers to as "lizard brain"...it's a physiological response that has helped us survive as a species. But there are huge benefits to ignoring that voice in your head that says "you will be rejected and laughed at." There can be tremendous results when you feel the butterflies in your stomach and train them to fly in formation.

Here are just a few examples of things I did that scared me to death but had really awesome outcomes and helped me grow as a human being.

1. Calling a guy I barely knew to ask him to the prom. I went to a tiny school and was a late bloomer. I had to look outside of my senior class if I was going to have a date. I became casual friends with a freshman in college who was brought in to help choreograph the HS musical I was in. I had to ask our drama teacher for his phone number, call him up out of the clear blue and ask him to go with me. He happily agreed and we had a nice time. We later ended up living in the same dorm at college and I discovered he was gay. Explains why he didn't kiss me goodnight, I guess.

2. Applying to an Ivy League college. Like I said, late bloomer. Never would have guessed I was Ivy League material, but when my SAT's came back I was encouraged to give it a shot. I labored over countless essays, got recommendations from teachers, and endured challenging interviews with the various college admissions people. I got in and they even gave me grant money and all but begged me to attend, but I decided I liked Penn State and their honors program better. Still it was a major confidence boost.

3. Cold calling a potential customer. I had an engineering degree and sales was the farthest thing from my mind when I started job-hunting, but because I was married and limited geographically my job options were limited. So I took a job in technical sales and my boss coached me. The whole thing was a new experience, visiting customers and encouraging them to buy more, but the hardest was calling someone who had never heard of my company or purchased our products. One such call resulted in a massive sale and again, really boosted my confidence.

4. Speaking in front of a crowd. I remember clearly the very first time I had to do this at a breakfast of nearly one hundred male engineers. I practiced and practiced and practiced in my hotel room. I probably shook like a leaf through the whole thing, but afterwards I had one rep after another come up and tell me what a great job I had done. They were probably just being nice, but I liked it enough to do it again, and again, on higher and higher profile platforms. Now public speaking is one of my favorite things to do and a highly valuable skill that few people really have.

5. Joining my church's praise team. I love music and I love to sing but singing in front of other people still scares the heck out of me. Somehow someone convinced me to join our smallish church's praise team on vocals. I still got nervous every Sunday but once the Associate Pastor said to me how much he enjoyed my work on praise team...because of my smile. He could tell how much I enjoyed worship and it inspired him. Mission accomplished.

6. Childbirth. I know this is kind of a given but doesn't childbirth scare every woman? Well maybe not, but the whole labor and delivery thing freaked me out. I think the positive results here are pretty obvious.

7. Defending myself in federal court. I got sued by my former employer for starting a competing company, more or less. (That's the extremely short explanation.) Just weeks after having my first baby, filled with stress and postpartum hormones, I had to sit up in that chair next to a judge and defend myself with incredible calm and skillfully as I had practiced with my attorneys. I was verbally attacked under cross-examination and even had to admit that I had once lied to my boss under duress. My partners and I won that case and seven years later are still operating a multi-million dollar business.

8. Starting my own photography business. No matter how talented or skilled you are, it's hard the first time you ask someone to pay you for your work. But it's worth it!

That's me...crow pose.
9. Learning challenging yoga balances like crow and handstand. Balancing on your hands or head is a nerve-wracking thing, and it took months of practice to get crow (knees on elbows, as in the photo here) but it's so fun once you can do it.

10. Running in a four mile race. This hasn't happened yet but takes place in two weeks and I have trained hard for the past three months. I went from huffing and puffing my way through a minute long jog to comfortably running for half an hour. I cannot wait to cross that finish line.



Now I want to hear YOUR story. Tell me one fear you've faced and how it worked out.

13 comments:

Mainline Mom said...

This really resonated with me - recently, at the age of 41, I started speed skating (http://speedskatingmom.com/). And yes, I completely suck. I had skated only three times in the past twelve years, but it captivated me and I wanted to give it a try. Now I'm addicted. :)

Mainline Mom said...

Wow, speedskating?! That's impressive and definitely sounds scary, but worthwhile :)

Mainline Mom said...

Wowsers, I think I got hives just from reading all of those! Way to go on conquering all that!

Mainline Mom said...

It's been amazing and humbling all at once :)

Mainline Mom said...

Thanks but I give all glory to God who gives me strength. What about you? Surely you've conquered something awesome :)

Mainline Mom said...

I broke my wrist in college when I took ice skating as a gym class...not so smooth :)

Mainline Mom said...

i would ay that my biggest one was really getting ahold of our finances in a conscientious way. i usually let DH handle it, or had a "general idea" of what was what, but never followed it to the penny. I do now, and it's still difficult at times.

Mainline Mom said...

What a cool idea for a post! I am stopping by from ifellowship. Have a great day and stop by my blog if you have time.

Amy

Mainline Mom said...

Awesome article hun! <3

Mainline Mom said...

That's a good one, often a challenging thing to tackle but very important.

Mainline Mom said...

Thank you :)

Mainline Mom said...

Thanks :)

Mainline Mom said...

I like #6! I have three children and think the first childbirth was the least "fearful" of the three because I didn't know what to expect. But once that happened, I was more fearful the 2nd and 3rd time. Sometimes things are better going into blind.

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