In life, there are two kinds of people.
Those that think and talk about how nice it would be to do X, Y or Z, and then they look at the people who are actually doing X, Y or Z and they exclaim: “Oh you’re so lucky!”
Then, of course, there are the people actually doing X, Y and Z, but they know that luck has nothing to do with it.
Luck has nothing to do with it
It takes courage to go after what you want, to do new things and to face your fears, but the lessons you learn and the confidence you gain from doing scary shit is extremely valuable.
I recently sent out an email that was titled: This is going to help you LIVE YOUR DREAMS with a link to a video Master Class I gave on the topic.
I got several replies back from readers, but there was one that stood out…
It was from a friend Charles Bordet, and he replied:
Great video 🙂 I think there is one very important insight that you mentioned probably without even noticing it. When you talk about resourcefulness, you say “It’s even more fun”. And by that, I think, you mean that “it’s a challenge to make it happen with only a few resources, and challenges are fun”. This is essential to have this kind of mindset to have the courage to live your dreams.
I remember that when I was younger, I didn’t like hard challenges, only the easy ones, the ones that didn’t require a lot of efforts from me.
I didn’t have a lot of courage either. I knew my fear but didn’t have the courage to face and overcome them. I think my mindset slowly shifted when I learned about the comfort zone, and that my life wouldn’t change if I stayed in it. That’s when I learned I had to face my fears. And slowly, after a while, I started to enjoy this process. The first time I met with my RBT accountability partner, I was terrified, and for a good reason: I never spoke English to someone outside of a class (and I was pretty bad in class), and I didn’t tell him about that. I was sweating before the call, and all along as well, but deep inside me I knew this was because I was way out of my comfort zone, I was eager to do it. The more afraid I am, the better.”
I loved this honest reply, and Charles’ insights.
I replied to Charles, asking if he would write a guest post for this blog, that I could share here with you all.
I wanted him to share how he has learned to embrace fear, and to even have fun with it.
He agreed and submitted the article below.
It’s a good one.
The More Afraid I Am, The Better
When I tell people that, one year ago, I have never spoken in English outside of English class, they tend to go a little crazy.
Indeed, I made HUGE improvements in a year.
Even if at that time my writing skills were okay-ish (I had no problem to be understood, but it was still painful to write long sentences), I had absolutely zero practice for my speaking skills, and had been rather bad at school.
But it didn’t happen overnight, nor without effort.
Let’s go back in time, one year ago.
It is now June 19, 2014, and I’m waiting before my computer. I can’t sit still on my chair. I feel so anxious, and every passing minute makes it worse. He’s still setting up the Google Hangout on his side. And I’m waiting.
I’m sweating like hell. I’m so scared. I can feel my heart racing in my chest. So many “What ifs?” pop into my head. Maybe I should cancel. Well, no, I have to do it! I have to go through it!
Deep inside me, despite the crazy stress, I’m smiling. I’m embracing this situation. I love being in this state of high stress, completely scared to death. It means I’m growing.
In my mind, I have this picture with two circles, one is “Your Comfort Zone” and the other one is “Where the Magic Happens”. Right now, I’m literally where the magic happens, and it feels good.
What I feel in my body – the heart racing, the hands sweating – is just a side effect of using magic.
Finally, the Google Hangout starts. I have my first conversation ever in English with a native. Actually, with anyone. This is the first time I talk to someone in English outside of class.
After 15 minutes, the call ends, and I slumped on my chair. I’m soaked in sweat as if I had just run a marathon. Exhausted. But I went through it. It’s done. I succeeded. I grew. Terrifying, but amazing experience. And I did magic, isn’t that cool?
We had the same call every week. A few weeks later, I had three regular calls scheduled every week. It’s been a year now, and I’ve done massive improvements in my English, with just a few calls per week.
How was that possible?
I faced my fears, I went out of my comfort zone and learned more in a year than in ten years at school.
Easier said than done. Even if it could lead to major improvements in our lives, we don’t face our fears.
It’s a shame though. Ask any successful people, he will tell you that this is the key to achieve your dreams in life.
If I hadn’t gone through this experience, I would still be mediocre in English, and I wouldn’t be here writing to you.
You Can LEARN to Face Your Fears
Facing our fears is not something we get in our genetic package. We need to learn it.
When I was younger, I had this irrational fear of the telephone.
I hated calling someone by phone and would do anything to avoid it. For instance, I would rather send an email and wait a couple of days than calling and getting the answer immediately.
I knew I had this fear, but I was doing nothing to overcome it. I didn’t understand the point of putting myself in uncomfortable situations, so I simply avoided them.
This was until I saw the picture above, about the comfort zone.
This made me think a lot. I eventually understood that if I wanted to grow, become a better version of myself and achieve my dreams, I need to reach the zone “where the magic happens”.
I needed to face my fears.
My fear of speaking on the telephone was the first of many I tackled.
That wasn’t too hard actually, once I was willing to do it.
Picking up the phone and making a call was quick, so I just had to shut down the negative chatter in my brain for 10 seconds, type the number and make the call.
Once the call started, it was too late to go back.
All it took was the awareness that I had to go through it, to overcome it!
This experience not only helped me with telephone, but also taught me that I could repeat the process to overcome ANY fear.
It induced a shift in my mind. I started to push myself more and more into scary situations. I started to enjoy feeling afraid.
My new motto became:
“The more afraid I am, the better”.
For instance, I would commit myself in something I knew was ultra-scary for me, like going to a party where I know nobody. I just had to say “yes” to the person who invited me.
When the moment came, I couldn’t turn back because I was committed.
It’s as if I created a second fear (the social pressure if I decided not to go) to ensure I would face the first one.
Now, I want to challenge you:
I want you to face your fears as well.
I want you to go through this experience of overcoming one fear, so that you fully understand how the picture above works.
Actually, you probably have already had a similar experience.
But this is a skill that needs to be trained, so even if you think you’re good at it, you’ll still benefit from the challenge.
The goal is to internalize how the process works, so that you start to have FUN with it.
We will always experience fear and anxiety, but instead of seeing it as something bad, we need to associate it more and more with positive experiences.
Pick one fear you have, something that makes you uncomfortable. If you can’t find one, pick one from below:
- Talking to a stranger on the street/bus/in waiting room (ask them what they’re up to, how their day went, etc.).
- Asking for a 10% discount when doing groceries or buying coffee at Starbucks (and train your fear of rejection).
All you have to do is to do it once.
Shut down your brain for 10 seconds and do it.
Think about the magic flowing in your body.