Fear is something that holds a lot of people back.
Fear of failure and fear of success are the two big ones most often talked about.
Fear of failure, to me, is pretty simple: being afraid of screwing things up. Lack of confidence. Ain’t no way I can do that.
Fear of success is a little more complicated, I think. Instead of not believing in yourself, to me it means being afraid of what will happen if and when you achieve that goal. Things will be different. Fear of change.
I’m one of the lucky ones blessed with both of these …
One time I asked a highly successful, super-positive, charismatic, hard-working friend what he thought held most people back. Fear of failure or fear of success?
He said, “Neither one. I think it’s fear of effort.”
I’ve had that one, too.
Fortunately, this ain’t baseball and so even with three strikes, you get another chance.
A while back, doing my new morning routine, I was listening to one of these positive-thinking gurus and he was talking about how he teaches people to overcome their fears. He said he gets them to do something they never thought they could do. Breaking through that self-confidence barrier opens up all kinds of possibilities.
I’ve lived in Texas all my life and done a little bit of traveling through the country from time to time, but never been overseas until I decided back about 12 years ago that my life needed a big adventure. I was having a sort of mid-life crisis, I guess, feeling like I’d never done anything “big” or really important. I had a fairly successful life by most standards, but I also had old childhood friends who were millionaires, champion athletes, world travelers.
Talking to a friend from high school one day who had lived all over the world at one time or another, I found out about this thing called the Camino de Santiago. It’s an ancient pilgrimage dating back to the 9th century, I think it is, and basically a walk all the way across Spain, from the Pyrenees Mountains on the border with France to the Atlantic Ocean, about 500 miles.
I read all about the Camino and decided to go for it. This was in the first part of 2011 and after lots of research, planning, and training walks, I was ready to go in early June.
I was excited but also scared spitless.
I remember making my airline reservation and being afraid to hit the final button to buy my ticket. On the way to the airport, I told myself, “C’mon, man, get a hold of yourself; it’s not like you’re going to prison or something.” When I got to my hotel in Pamplona, where I would spend the night before strapping on a backpack and heading out into the countryside, I found a laptop in the lobby and got on Expedia to see if I could get a plane ticket the next day and take my ass back home!
Luckily, it was outrageously expensive to turn around and head back (I didn’t know I probably could have changed the reservation for a couple hundred bucks) and so I stayed. I still remember walking through downtown Pamplona, heading west, and coming to the edge of town, where a big yellow arrow painted vertically high on a light pole pointed toward a large open field. Ahead in the distance, you could see tall, spinning wind turbines lined across the hills.
I had done lots of research on the Camino, but here it was. No turning back now. As I headed out along a worn-down pathway through this giant field, some local folks were coming toward me, heading back to town, and several of them said, “Buen Camino,” which basically means, “Have a good trip.”
That was pretty cool.
It took me about five days to get comfortable, and by Day 10, I wanted to stay forever.
I overcame a pretty big fear that trip and learned a lot of good stuff. I went back two more times after that and even spent a week at the home of a friend I met over there.
If I had given in to my fear and not gone on that trip …
How do you overcome fear(s)?
Just do it.
You never know what you can do until you try …