The Audacity of Trying
My Dad is the smartest person I know. He forever has practical advice on any situation, and has the receipts to back it up. From the time I was a child, he’s never doubted my ability to do anything I wanted to do. Granted, that’s part of this job as a dad but his assurance in me has allowed me to develop my own fearlessness.
Being fearless don’t mean you’re not afraid. It means that you acknowledge the fear and try anyway. The desire to pursue your dreams and goals becomes far greater than the fear.
It’s the moment when you have to make that internal decision to either give up or keep pressing forward. If you give up, you’ll always look back and wonder “what if?” You lose nothing by trying. The regret, however, will have a more negative impact.
Regretting what you didn’t do is worse than trying. When you try something, you find out how it will work for you. Also, trying leads you to learning how else you can make things better or different. You learn on improving your skill and craft.
The first step will always be the hardest. It’s the trying phase when you are not sure how the outcome will turn out. But this can also be a start of something.
We are often put in situations where we have to do things for the first time. It might seem terrifying because we have no clue what exactly will happen afterwards. Until you try, you have no idea what you’re capable of.
On social media, you’ll often see “face your fears” as a directive to live by. It’s well-meaning but unhelpful without the why. And because fear serves an important purpose, this directive to frighten ourselves on purpose carries a heavy burden.
In the book, When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chodron tells the story of a young warrior who learns to defeat fear by asking fear itself how it can be done. Fear tells her:
“My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.”
In other words, fear is a bully. It tells you what to do, and when you obey it, it gains power. However, when you acknowledge what fear tells you but do the opposite, you build courage. Avoidance is our natural response to fear but it’s not the one that works.
Do you notice when you try new things, there seems to be an ideal level of stress for growth and learning. A certain level of fear can lead to high performance. Fear signals there’s something of consequence on the line, a reason to apply effort.
When I was 12, it finally clicked. My Dad told me that I could do and be anything I wanted. “All you have to do is go for it. If you don’t succeed, try again a different way.” He has lived his life by this mantra, and so do I. The audacity to believe you can do and be anything is your God-given right. The more you listen to fear, the more power you give it. The more you face fear down, try the things that scare us, and in that way, propel ourselves forward.