Sunday, December 8, 2013

What Are You Afraid Of?

Last week I consulted with an aspiring author. We originally met at an author event where she asked the question, "How would you go about getting a children's book published?  I've written a picture book about a dog and I'm not sure what to do next."  That could have been me asking the exact same question.  The presenting author wasn't familiar with what to do, but I quickly gave her my card and offered to share my journey with her.  A few months later we were sitting at my kitchen table and I was giving her lots of information (probably too much information) on how to get started.  I love helping aspiring authors because I was there myself just a few short years ago and I truly did not know where to start or who to ask for  advice.

What Are You Afraid Of?

"I think I need to get over my fears," she said at one point.  "I think I'm afraid of success."   Again, I nodded.  Our fears so often define us and keep us from moving forward don't they?  I too have been plagued with fears and still am.  What if I fail?  What if no one wants my books?  What if I'm fooling myself and I'm not really any good at writing?  What if I make the wrong decision?  What if I work and work at this and nothing happens?  What if I have a book signing party and NO ONE comes?  Trust me, my brain works overtime on the possibilities. 

Here is my answer to those fears:  DO IT ANYWAY.

Are You Asking the Right Questions? 

In his recent book Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters, Jon Acuff takes himself on an imaginary plane ride that ends in near disaster.  His plane crashes, he barely makes it out alive and the end result is that he is suddenly faced with the big question of "Am I spending my life doing the things I would want to do if I knew I were going to die next month or next year?"    We've all thought about this question before.  Maybe like Acuff, it has been an imaginary tragedy in our lives or maybe we've been faced with the real thing.  But the bottom line is that our lives are finite.  If we haven't answered this question and then moved ahead on the answer, then we are not only fooling ourselves.  We are wasting our lives. 

Jon answers the question with three things he wants to accomplish in his life:
Write a book
Be a great husband
Be a great father to his children

Then he asks another question:  "What is keeping me from doing those things ?  What am I waiting for?  If they are important why am I not doing any of them well?" He had two reasons and they weren't pretty:  He was afraid to write a book.  Talking about writing a book was easier than actually finding out if he had what it takes to do it.  He was lazy and content to be an average husband and father.  Facing these important questions turned his life upside down.  It could change yours as well.

The Number One Regret of the Dying

Acuff goes on to quote Bronnie Ware who wrote a book entitled, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.  A nurse in Australia who spent years caring for the terminally ill, she found the number one regret to be:  I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.  Does that hit home for you? It did for me.

As I talked with the aspiring author in my kitchen this week, I  encouraged her to recognize her fears and DO IT ANY WAY.  "I was really intimidated by all you've done,"  she said. "I read your website and thought, How could I ever do that?" I was a little surprised.  Most of the time, my fears don't let me count the accomplishments.

I still feel afraid everyday that the latest idea or venture won't turn turn out.  I worry that someone will point out something that was wrong.  I worry that it will all fall flat.  It was only after her comment that that I started counting up what I have accomplished in four years toward my dream of publishing a book and sustaining myself as a writer, speaker and coach. Three websites, two ongoing blogs, five books, regularly speaking and selling books at events, a successful women's conference that speakers are asking me if they can speak at... Funny isn't it how our fears get in the way of acknowledging reality.  How did I do that?

The Key to Success

Helen Keller said, "Feel the fear, do it anyway."  That is the key to anything I've accomplished.  One step, sometimes one very small step at a time, I've built it.  Not because I was confident and courageous.  I just DID IT ANYWAY.  So can you.

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1 comment:

  1. Yes! Afraid? Me? Oh, yes, I was, but I, like you, did it anyway. Sharing on Facebook and Twitter, Lynne!