Do you ever envy those really courageous people – you know, the ones who seem to know no fear, feel no pain and do not hesitate in view of any obstacle?
They’re the people who try stuff you and I are terrified to attempt. They jump out of planes. They start companies. They speak in front of crowds. They lead initiatives. They confront bullies. They have hard conversations.
I think a handful of those people really are fearless. Unmoved by the thought of massive risk. But I’ve come to believe that those who feel no fear are the exception, not the norm. The vast majority of courageous people are actually hiding a dirty little secret.
They’re scared to death.
Just like you and me. The only difference between them and us?
They do it anyway.
Whatever “it” is. If it’s worth doing, they do it, even if they feel almost paralyzing fear in the process. I’ve met some truly courageous people over the past few years, and I’m amazed time and again at how much anxiety, discouragement and self-doubt they face. I guess I just assumed they would be lacking all those emotions; that the radically brave were somehow physiologically distinct from mere mortals like me.
But it turns out that when they’re called upon to make hard decisions, initiate massive change, communicate important things or step up to the plate in other ways that matter they all struggle with what’s being asked of them at the deepest level. Just like me. Then …
They do it anyway.
What if you’ve been taking a catastrophically wrong approach to dealing with your own anxiety, your own desperate fear of making the wrong decision or failing spectacularly? What if waiting for it to go away is a complete waste of time – because it never will? What if you’ll be stuck feeling some level of insecurity for the rest of your life? What if uncertainty will be a constant presence in your psyche until the day you die?
If that’s the case, then when it comes to whatever valuable, worthy thing you would most certainly do if you weren’t so scared, there’s really only one option:
Do it anyway.
Stop waiting for your pulse to slow and your palms to dry out and the lump in your throat to disappear. Instead of giving up on your calling, give up on your unreasonable desire to be fear-free before you act on it. Find something that matters to do.
And then do it anyway.
P.S. If you need a great reminder that you’re not alone when it comes to acting in spite of your fears, my friend Matt Keller’s book “God of the Underdogs” will supercharge your faith.