Do You Need to Get Afraid Again? Challenging Ourselves to Climb Higher
I recently talked with a leader who is going back to school to get his master’s degree. Even though he’s had both a challenging and rewarding healthcare job for the last ten years, going back to school was causing him a little anxiety. Understandable. He told me, “That’s good for me. I need to get afraid again.”
Even though we may be doing big things in life, we may not be pushing ourselves to higher levels. How do you know if you are there? If you are not doing anything that rattles your nerves a little bit, it’s time to get afraid again.
Regardless of how high we climb, each step outside of our current comfort zone will cause us a similar case of the nerves. That feeling should not only be expected, it should be welcomed. When we are shaken, it is a reminder that we are facing an opportunity to expand who we are.
I recall when I first spoke to a group of people about leadership at someone’s house. I remember the drive there. I was shaking a little inside. I had spoken to our company before, but never to people outside our organization. I thought, “How am I the one teaching on this topic? Will I be able to connect?”
I survived that talk.
Later, I expanded my reach and held my own leadership conference. I was the main speaker. I was equally, if not more, nervous. Now, a few conferences down, while I get excited about speaking at our leadership retreats, I would not categorize it as high anxiety levels.
Another time, I was invited to speak at an annual conference to a medical organization as their keynote speaker. I was also very anxious. But that experience too is now behind me. I was recently invited to give a sermon at a church. I have given ten minute talks before at a church, but not longer. You guessed it, nerves.
Even though I have spoken hundreds of times, when it is not something I have done, my first instinct is to say no, and to get a little nervous. I expect that. My response was, “Yes, thank you for the opportunity to share at the church.” And you know what, I will prepare, I will be ready, and most likely my excitement levels will be a little higher than normal—or to put it simply, I’ll push myself to get afraid again.
At each new level we approach, most of us will experience stomach jitters. I felt them my first day of school of each year as a child. I felt them my first day of medical school, and again on my first day of residency.
A friend of my wife’s shared an idea about pushing forward. He said, “When we are asked to do something outside of our comfort level, our tendency is to say no. We make excuses for ourselves. We don’t have time. We don’t feel comfortable at this stage. But those are the exact opportunities that can make us afraid. Those are the opportunities that will stretch us.”
The secret to getting to higher levels is to say yes when opportunities to push you higher knock on your door. Have you seen the movie, Yes Man, with Jim Carrie, where he had to say yes to everything? It changed his life.
Saying yes to opportunities that take us to higher levels will change our lives. Normally when opportunities that make us afraid come knocking we find excuses: I don’t have time. I can’t do this right now, at this stage. I will embarrass myself.
Don’t entertain excuses. Trust me. Just say yes.
If you have not felt this feeling that my friend described as, “I need to get afraid again,” I invite you to dream, to risk, and move yourself boldly forward.
Let’s dare to get afraid again!
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