The Courage To Try – The most prevalent fears we face on a daily basis are the fear of failure and the fear of rejection. The safety-focused response is to not even try, to give up before you’ve started. The foundation for these fears is low self-esteem and a lack of confidence. We decide that the risk-reward calculation is out of balance. The odds of being rewarded are remote at best. We convince ourselves that we’d never get the promotion so why even apply for it. Similarly, there’s no way the cute neighbor who just moved in would ever consider going out with us so why bother starting a conversation.
The Courage To Begin And End – Buddha said,“There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth…not going all the way, and not starting.” There is something inherent in the human spirit that causes us to fear both beginnings and endings. It’s probably because both represent forks in the road, require a choice, and represent change. People tend to prefer the status quo with its attendant calmness and stability; but stasis, in regards to the human journey, implies existing rather than living. You may have heard the adage “sharks must keep swimming or they will die.” It’s an analogy that is frequently used by motivational speakers and management consultants to illustrate the human need for continual growth. In reality, the shark comparison is a false one as fewer than six percent of shark species actually need to swim in order to breathe.
In regards to humans, however, the analogy does hold true. Every single one of us must indeed keep moving if we are to live to our fullest potential. But equally essential is the understanding that we must move in a series of starts and stops, zigs and zags. Our lives are not the journey of a speedboat that zooms ahead, never looks back, and leaves turmoil in its wake. Rather we are like a sailboat that must tack back and forth to progress and use the wind to full advantage. Every time we begin to zig we’re making a conscious decision to stop zagging. There’s no other way. We can’t zig at the same time as we zag. Yet that is exactly how many people operate. They really want to zig but they also really don’t want to stop zagging.
The crux of the matter is that we’re often afraid to zig because we don’t know what it will mean or where it will lead; and we’re afraid to stop zagging because we’ve invested so much time and effort in it. Plus we’re not sure we’re going to like zigging, so it would be much better to have zagging to fall back on. Of course none of this is about zigs and zags. It’s about ending detrimental relationships and beginning new ones with hope and promise. Eliminating activities that don’t add value and pursuing those that enrich your heart and mind. Knowing that quality trumps quantity and recognizing that having more is never enough. And most importantly, having the courage to never disappoint yourself in order to not disappoint someone else. (We realize this may sound selfish and confusing, but most of our fears regarding beginnings and endings revolve around others.)
The 20/20 approach to boosting your courage and giving something a try is to consider the worst-case scenario. You don’t get the promotion and you don’t get the date. So what? Nothing has changed in your life. In fact, from a holistic perspective, you’ve added another life experience to learn from. And from that same holistic perspective, it is far better to regret the things you did or attempted, rather than the things you were afraid to do.