Joseph Campbell said:
The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.
Think about that. I host a weekly internet radio show named Life Altering Events. After 56 episodes, 180,000 people in 30 countries have listened to the show. I have met and now call friends some of the most dynamic, interesting, intelligent, and truly amazing people. Each of their stories enriched my life and the lives of people all over the world. As I look back over the 56 episodes, I found a common theme. Each of my guests had found the courage to overcome a fear that had taken a hold of their lives.
Fear is a natural reaction. It is part of the flight or fight stimulus which is intended to protect us. But fear also has a paralyzing effect. Emily Dickinson wrote:
If your nerve denies you — go above your nerve.” It’s implied that fear is always there, lurking underneath our daring and luring us to linger in safer spaces.
Uncontrolled Fear is where hope, trust, innovation, and courage go to die. Many unhappy lives are the result of failing to overcome fear. Fear, however, is a choice. My guest Mel Robbins said:
You don’t have what you want because your thoughts and feelings hold you back. Your resistance to change, whether it manifests as fear or anger or stubbornness, keeps you on the safe, familiar path. But, by taking action (when you don’t feel like it), you start to steer your life in new directions.
~Mel Robbins – Stop Saying You’re Fine
I speak to so many people that once had a dream or a vision but lacked the courage to face their fears and take action. They just settled.
I recently spoke to one of my customers who had achieved a fair amount of success in his life. He told me he went back to visit his “hard luck” hometown after 48 years. It is a small town on Lake Erie that never recovered from the loss of the steel mills many years ago. While there, he encountered a few friends from his childhood who never left. These are people he has known his whole life. They decided to meet for lunch and catch up.
As they were sitting in a restaurant overlooking Lake Erie, the man looked out over the lake and he saw the old power plant that once employed over 2,000 people. It was now vacant. Not even a car in the parking lot.
As he looked to his right, he saw a large empty field full of weeds where one of the five steel mills that employed over 15,000 people once stood.
As he drove to the restaurant, he saw what was once a vibrant downtown which was now abandoned and boarded-up buildings. Get the picture!
One of the friends said, “You were lucky. You had the opportunity to go to college, to get out of here, and build a lucrative career. I never had that opportunity.”
The man’s initial reaction was anger, but he controlled it. He took a deep breath to collect his thoughts then he replied, “There was no luck involved. I made a choice to get out. Growing up we all imagined that someday we would go to college and become successful. We all had the same vision back then.”
The man continued, “When it came time to go to college, I didn’t have the money and my family certainly didn’t have the money. So, I made a choice. I chose to join the military. It delayed my vision by four years, but I was able to save some money and with help from the GI bill I went to college.”
One of the friends said, “We remember when you did that, we thought you were crazy. You enlisting during the Vietnam War. There was no way we were going to do that.”
The man took another deep breath then said, “Well, gentlemen, I guess we all have to live with our choices.”
Now what happened here? All these old friends had imagination and a vision but only one made the choice to do whatever it took to address and overcome his fear. What choice are you going to make? Are you going to say I am what I am and nothing I do will change anything? Or are you going to say, “What If” and have the courage to take the action needed to face your fears?
I recently read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. He wrote:
Taking action is about living fully. Inaction is sitting in front of your television every day for years because you are afraid to be alive and to take the risk of expressing what you are or can be. You can have many great ideas in your head, but what makes the difference is the courage to take action. Without action upon an idea, there will be no manifestation, no results, and no reward.
Remember this, I didn’t have the opportunity is not a reason or an excuse, it is a choice.
Ending the conversation
Ladies and gentlemen, my goal today was to give you hope. During hard times, do three things; Look up. Get up. And Never Ever Give up. Keep moving forward and better times and better will come into your life.
Let me leave you with this – none of us are in this alone the secret to walking on water is to know where the rocks are.