Wayne Gretzky once said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
He was a cool dude.
Fear is a funny thing. It presents really differently in people, and effects everyone in different ways. I see fear driving people to success daily, it’s the force that pushes them to be more than they thought they could and achieve great things. The fear of failure is a powerful motivator to a lot of people, and the constant drive to rise above that is inspiring.
However, I am someone who falls on what I would consider the opposite end of the fear spectrum. I am one who is paralyzed by fear. For much of my life, fear has stopped me in my tracks when considering things that I might want to do.
Even sadder, is that I didn’t realize this about myself until my early 20s. I had spent a quarter century of my life doing things that came easily, things that came naturally, and falling into patterns that were comfortable and not always healthy. When I ran across something that would push me out of that pattern, I would shut down, not act, and sometimes find myself in situations where I was trapped and unhappy, but too afraid to try to break the cycle.
Once I realized I was this type of person, my life slowly started to change.
I’m not going to say that BAM I was suddenly a new person with great habits and lived a fearless lifestyle, because that would be a lie. But I did realize that challenging myself with positive things, while terrifying at times, wasn’t usually bad.
Did I fail at times? Sure. Did I do things that in hindsight I wish I hadn’t? Absolutely. But I had some really great experiences and have grown a lot as well.
I still struggle with fear limiting my life. I joined my current company back in October and from day 1 wanted to cycle with our group here. Because I was out of shape, hadn’t been on my bike in some time, and wasn’t confident in my group riding skills, I came up with excuse after excuse as to why I couldn’t. For three months. Over three months actually.
In February the gang of cheerleaders here, who despite my protests could tell that deep down inside I really REALLY wanted to become a cyclist again, got me on the road. I was terrified. The first ride I did with the group I was shaking so hard when we went to push off I almost couldn’t move. The fear very nearly paralyzed me not only metaphorically, but physically as well.
And within 5 minutes, it was gone.
Now I’m a cycling disaster. I fall over at stop signs. I sometimes forget to unclip. I get random flat tires for no apparent reason, and drop my chain regularly because my shifting leaves a lot to be desired. And you know what? My group hasn’t kicked me out yet. They still wait for me to figure my stuff out, and come back for me if I fall too far behind.
Nothing about cycling is worth the amount of fear that I was allowing in my mind.
The same can be said for most every fear I’ve faced. I challenge myself every day when I am afraid, when I decide I don’t want to even attempt something because I’m not sure that I can, to recognize if it’s fear that is driving me. Granted, that does not always mean that I can shake it off and take action, but just realizing what is happening is a step in the right direction.
I am the only person who can empower myself to be great. My greatness won’t come from sitting on the sidelines too scared to live life, try new things, and achieve everything that I’m capable of.