"what would you do if you weren't afraid?" run a marathon? get a new job? lose weight? move to another city, or perhaps even another country? take up a new hobby? share a passion you’ve been keeping all to yourself?
every day, amidst the minutiae that clutters up our facebook feed, i see friends getting over the hump. going out on a limb. challenging themselves.
but what takes us over the edge? pushes us beyond the comfort zone?
i recently came across an interview in which oprah was talking to sheryl sandberg, the COO of facebook, about fear. what could the most powerful woman in the world, who makes a gazillion dollars, owns sprawling estates and hobnobs with the uber-elite celebs and leaders of the world, possibly be afraid of?
despite her astronomical success, she was entering into new territory: launching her own cable network, OWN. yet there she was, waking up in the middle of the night, terrified. whether this new venture would be a success or failure, she came to the realization that she had to be true to herself.
“all of us have that space where we are willing to get still because the world will try to tell you everything about yourself and we have so many voices in our heads and in our facebook pages telling us everything, but to know really what to do and how to be guided in your life, you have to go to that space [inside] where the bigger you, the greater you, resides.”
she referenced a question that sandberg had posed in a commencement speech at barnard college last year: “what would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
i think back to my life and experiences. every time i go to write a post, there is a little voice in the back of my mind saying: “who would actually care?” but i’ve learned to write—for me … and it’s liberating. if i allowed that fear or insecurity to overcome me, i’d have no voice. and that is simply not an option.
the process of creating—a post, a work of art, a career, a life—is about tapping into what’s true. to you.
it reminds me of my old agency. there i worked with an incredibly talented group of designers. whenever we had a design review, i’d watch with a mixture of sympathy and awe as they would tape their comps to the wall one by one, and the team (the creative director, the strategist, the writer and the techies) would huddle around the work and meticulously critique every execution. we’d spout off about how the imagery was off, the font was too boxy, the color palette needed tweaking, and the logo just didn’t “feel” right. and after the pile on was over, they’d scribble a couple random notes in a tattered moleskin, gather the marked up papers taped to the walls, and get back to it…only to repeat the process in a day or two as the deadline for the client presentation loomed.
one day, after a particularly brutal session, i bumped into a designer at the coffee machine.
“hey pretty rough meeting, huh?”
he shrugged his shoulders and stared glumly down at his black chuck taylors. “yeah.”
“i don’t know how you guys do it. sometimes it’s like you’re putting yourself out there only to get ripped to shreds.” i could relate since 9 times out of 10 it was my copy that was plastered up on that wall along with the pretty pictures.
“you know, sometimes it’s rough…but it’s all part of the process. the feedback really helps me resolve questions and explore possibilities—stuff i would never get to on my own.”
he was right. putting yourself out there means pushing yourself forward. it's the difference between good and great. settling versus striving. it’s risky. sometimes uncomfortable. it may take time and stumbles. and work and rework. but you might get to a place you never knew existed. you might find a voice you never knew you had.
there's a great quote by author marianne williamson: “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. it is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”
what would you do if you weren’t afraid? whether you're motivated by honoring someone you’ve lost or filling a void or facing your fears or simply finding your way, tap into that fire within. and shine on.