Learning to be with your own fear is a like developing a muscle.
When people begin transformational work, they find out pretty quickly that the reason their life looks the way it currently does is because that keeps them safe from their fear. Creating a life beyond the bounds of what you’ve already created requires stepping into your fear.
We’d rather do anything other than step into our fear.
I’ve seen people wear glasses hooked up an iPod that flashes lights at their eyes at timed intervals because it’s designed to have your fear dissolve.
I’ve seen people spend hours meditating, planning and reciting affirmations to themselves, all in the hopes that it will overcome their fear.
As long as the myth you are buying into is that there is some kind of thing you can do to make the scary thing no longer scary, your fear is going to get the better of you. It gets the better of you, because now you are spending your time trying to eliminate your fear, rather than doing the thing that is scary. And that’s all your fear is designed to do anyhow: stop you from doing what is scary.
Once people really confront this fact, their next concern is usually some flavour of “Will I always have this fear?” or “Will I always have this resistance?”
That’s a pretty reasonable concern.
Overcoming our fear and our resistance is a lot like building muscles. When you first go to the gym, you haven’t ever worked out before, and so you need to start with very low weights. You’ll notice that, even though you might be lifting much lighter weights than the other people around you, your arms, legs, and body still shake and rapidly exhaust themselves as you lift.
We might ask ourselves at this point, “Is it always going to be hard, lifting these weights?”
But also Yes.
No — over time, and as you continue to practice, you’re going to discover that your body adapts to the weight, and it’s no longer a struggle. As you keep practising, you will reach a point where the weights you started with are no longer a challenge at all. It’s quite easy for you to lift them.
But also Yes — you don’t go to the gym, start lifting a particular weight, and then stay there. You lift heavier and heavier weights as you develop, because you are a work in progress and are growing.
So yes, the particular weights you are lifting will not always feel challenging. But you go to the gym in order to challenge yourself. And so the act of lifting those weights will probably (hopefully) always feel like a challenge.
Your relationship to your fear is no different. You’ll overcome your fears and resistance at whatever level of game you’re currently playing at. But then if you’re really committed to leadership, you’re probably going to want to create whatever is next from here. And that’s the point where you bump into the next level of fear.
Your fear and resistance are healthy. They are your compass and sextant, pointing you toward the next edge in your leadership.
Learn to love lifting.