I’m blessed to be married to a brilliant, self-reflective, virtually egoless man who looks past my face, into my eyes, and deeply into my soul. He has the strength to call me out, and it’s one of the many things I love about him. He pointed out to me recently that he can always find me when we’re separated at a social event. He just looks for the uncomfortably vulnerable guest; I’m the one nearby offering up a tissue. He has, on more than one occasion gently suggested that it’s culturally more acceptable to ask a stranger politely what they do, instead of delving into the depth of who they are.
It may not be casual cocktail conversation, but it’s what I’m most passionate about. Life is too short to be talking about the weather, the colour of the curtains, or the current lending rate. And more often than not, when the conversation eventually rolls around to a description of the life they wish they were living, I meet their deepest fears face to face. Past the victim statements and through the excuses, after all the layers of reproach are peeled away, fear remains at the core every single time.
Fear is like an unwelcome tenant in our mind, occupying way too much space, and long overdue in rent payment of any kind. What’s amazing is how we fail to take the time and energy to negotiate this lease and the terms of the agreement … to examine exactly how much power we’re willing to give to illusionary events that never materialize outside the theatre of the mind. I believe it is the hardest work we’ll ever do.
I recently spoke at a TEDx event in Washington, D.C. My speech was on the Reinvention of Self (www.youtube.com). It was the most emotionally raw and authentically delivered speech of my life. It took years for me to realize how to surrender and connect to my internal truth and I wanted to communicate this message directly to the hearts of those in the audience. I shared that reinvention can be nothing short of terrifying; that tragedy and trauma are not required catalysts for change, and that there’s absolutely no room for mediocrity. And, in stretching myself to take on this challenge, I was gifted a life-changing realization: my losses don’t define who I am. Speaking in Washington created the internal inferno required to burn through my own fear of embracing joy fully. I don’t have a need to ever deliver this speech again.
Overcoming fear requires that we show up to do the work we’re born to do. This can only happen if we take action. Action can explode out of anger as Silken Laumann shares (pg. 70), single minded focus as Brian Price offers (pg. 20), and with practice as suggested by Richard St. John (pg. 63). It takes place when we agree, as recommended by Craig Kielburger, to participate instead of merely observe life (pg. 32) and when we connect first to ourselves and then to our audience, as identified by Saskia Shakin (pg. 17). It happens when we take the steps outlined by Bethany Eaton to nurture our creative inner child (pg. 44) and apply Manisha Thakor’s three simple steps to fight back against financial fear (pg. 40). It occurs when we, like Gavin de Becker, use our intuition as our greatest life saving tool (pg. 54) and apply Patrick Lencioni’s advice on how not to sabotage client loyalty (pg. 48). And, just so you have something you can carry with you anywhere to shift perspective and inspire you to take action, Elizabeth Lesser has compiled an entire page of inspirational quotes to combat all fears imaginable (pg. 35).
My sincerest wish for you is that you’ll start today. Even if it’s with the smallest of steps – tiny, miniscule steps – say “yes” to every opportunity. Eventually you’ll create the momentum required to run full steam through that which paralyzes you from rising to your fullest potential. As always, I believe in you. You have unique strengths and talents and quirks and genius to share with the world. Embrace them all, embrace your fear, embrace joy, embrace the fullest life possible.
You only have today.