Melissa Etheridge is stalking me.
I know that it may sound a bit implausible on the surface but I am serious. I started hearing her Fearless Love song every time I turned on my internet radio, then a bunch of friends sent it to me, someone gifted it to me on iTunes, and it started popping up all the time on my shuffle, then they did a piece to it on So You Think You Can Dance, then I heard the song at Office Max on their Muzak station.
This isn’t my first flirtation with fearlessness. My dance team jokingly nicknamed me TFL (The Fearless Leader)
A couple of days ago I found out that I was nominated for the 2010 Fearless Women Award.
I hate to disappoint my dance team and the Fearless Woman Nominating Committee, but I’m not fearless. I’m not even close. And sorry Melissa, I hate to say it but I guess I’m not the woman for you. I don’t think there’s any such thing as a fearless love. Love is scary, and it’s not the only thing…
I’m scared of lots of things, not the least of which is admitting those things here.
The night before our dance team’s first rehearsal I only slept three hours and that entire time I was having nightmares about our rehearsal – people not liking the choreography, people not liking the music, people quitting etc.
I’m scared of little things like talking too much at my networking meetings. I’m scared of big things like under-performing my potential to make a difference in this world.
Did you catch that? I admitted that I was scared to post my fears here, but then I did it anyway.
I think those are two of the three-part-key to being defined as “fearless”. Let me be clear – I’m not talking about fear for my health and safety here, I’m talking about more amorphous fears.
Part 1: Admit your fears
It’s amazing how much smaller my fears seem outside my head than they seem inside it. As long as they are something to hide, then your fears have power over you. I used to think that telling people what I was scared of made me vulnerable…gave them something to use against me. It turns out that if I admit my fears then there is nothing to use because I got there first.
Part 2: Realize that fear isn’t real
Fear is not making a plan in case the scary thing happens – that would be helpful. Fear is sitting around saying “Yikes! Maybe a scary thing will happen.” Not helpful. Fear is worrying about a problem that does not exist. If your fears never come true then the energy you used on them is completely wasted. If they do come true then they are simply another part of reality that you have to deal with and having spent time worrying about them doesn’t make any difference. The scary thing will happen or it won’t and so you’ll have to deal with it or you won’t. Either way spending time worrying about it before it has happened is useless.
Part 3: Choosing your actual decision making criteria
This is really what separates those seen as fearless and those paralyzed by their fear. I think that what makes me seem fearless to people isn’t that I’m not afraid of things, but that I rarely factor my fear into my decision-making criteria. Since it’s not real, there’s just no point.
I’m afraid that people won’t like this blog post. I’m afraid that it will seem self-centered. I’m afraid that something I say might hurt someone’s feelings.
All of those things could happen, but none of them factor into whether I post this or not.
I use a three question test for most decisions in my life:
1. Is it true, honest, and authentic?
2. Is it important to me?
3. Is there a chance that it will be helpful to someone?
Am I scared of doing it? What difference does it make? That doesn’t change the truth of it, its importance to me, or the chance that I could help someone. So if it passes the three part test, I’m going to muster up my intestinal fortitude and Jump Off a Cliff.
So I’m a not-so-fearless leader and I’m perfectly happy with that.