We’ve all heard the saying ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. Well, this doesn’t come easily for me; I have an over developed sense of self preservation and am incredibly risk averse. I had to go against every fibre of my being to decide to take the leap and set up my own business.
Fear stops us doing so many things; fear of failure and rejection is a strong emotion and difficult to override, even if you are pretty sure you can do ‘it’ (whatever it may be, in my case selling a few crepes).
I spent years learning how to overcome fear, though I didn’t quite realise that’s what I was doing. I thought I was learning to surf. I wanted to surf more than anything. In between all the fighting to get through waves, sitting in the freezing cold waiting for the ‘right’ wave and generally being toyed with by the ocean, were those few seconds of accomplished gliding across the face of one of nature’s greatest achievements.
I was the wimpiest wimp (my surf friends will vouch for that), and I was unfit and weak; for about six years I was the world’s worst ‘wannabe’ surfer. I got fitter, I studied the theory of surfing to understand what I needed to do, but the fear held me back. Fear of big waves breaking on my head, fear of getting stuck in a current, fear of getting out past the waves but then finding I couldn’t get back to shore, fear of wiping out as I tried to catch waves… so much fear! I’m not just talking about a little trepidation, I’m talking absolute terror and panic, rabbit frozen in headlights type fear.
I have no idea how I overcame it (sorry if you thought this was going to be a revelation!), it happened very slowly. I improved my fitness, which helped me to paddle my board more quickly and avoid quite so many beatings on my way out through the waves, it also meant I wasn’t exhausted just from getting to the surfable waves. A two week trip to a brilliant, technical surf school called Surf Simply in Costa Rica contributed greatly to my progress. My confidence grew as I learnt new techniques for dealing with the ocean’s challenges.
I guess I learned to just keep paddling… and that I can’t always avoid the scariest scenario, but those moments don’t (usually) last long, then I have to get back on my board and keep paddling to where I want to be. Once I overcome each small challenge, the next one is never far away, but keep calm and paddle on!
Why am I writing about this? Because stepping in to the unknown and starting my own business is so similar, many scary moments, many decisions loaded with risk, but I keep plodding on and make sure that I take some sort of step forward each day. I’ve even had the few seconds of feeling accomplished every now and then, and the same ‘buzz’ after serving crepes with things going smoothly that I feel after one of those surfs where I manage to catch a few good waves.
If only I’d realised when I was feeling frustrated and down, failing to force myself to just follow my friends out through the (terrifying to me but really rather tiny) waves, that I was actually about to learn a huge life lesson that would lead to an ability to genuinely ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. This is something I think that everybody should try, even if it’s in a seemingly small way; it might just change your life.