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When Fear Shuts Down Your Dream

We all dream of doing something great someday.  It might be starting our own business, creating beautiful art, making a ton of money, or contributing to others in a profound way.  Yet, somehow, when we actually try to live our dream, something stops us dead in our tracks.  

I remember when this happened with one of my very first clients in my career counseling practice.  Bob had enjoyed a successful career as a bank vice president, but he was very excited about pursuing his own dream:  starting a business.  Then, one day, he came to see me and said he was stuck.  He stared at the floor for a long moment, then looked up at me with sad eyes and said, "Do you think I'm just a big loser?  Maybe I should just stay at the bank and forget all this."  

I was stunned.  This man had talent to burn.  Just a week ago, he'd been on fire with enthusiasm. What had happened that all of a sudden, he thought he was a loser?  Since then, I've seen this happen with client after client—and with myself more times than I care to remember.  We are so afraid failure will eat us alive. 

I've come to appreciate that change is one of the most terrifying things we face in life.  Our latent fears and insecurities spring out at us from all directions. After all, change threatens our comfortable worlds.  It doesn't matter that our comfortable worlds might be miserable places.  Misery we know!  Misery we can tolerate!  But change is strange and terrifying.  

Fear attacks--and makes excuses

When fear attacks, it is easy to rationalize not pursuing the calling of our hearts right now.  Right now, I Don't have enough education.  Right now, I Don't have enough skills or experience.  Right now, I have too many responsibilities. Right now, I'm not articulate enough.  Right now, the economy is bad--I'll do it later.   But life is immediate.  It is here.  It is now.  There are no second chances.  If we delay going after our dream, thinking that somehow what we lack will magically show up later, we are only fooling ourselves.  Instead of getting what we're missing, we squander what we have.  

If you're needing some support to reach your dream, give me a call.  Our 2-hour Career Action Plan Meeting Gets to the root of your career issues and provides a step-by-step plan to achieve them.  847 673 0339

If fear has shut down your dream, Don't be ashamed or upset.  Remember, you are in good company.  Anyone I know who has really challenged themselves has had to wade knee deep through fear and failure.  Every time a read a biography of someone who has done extraordinary things with their life, I am reminded that this "great person" wasn't so very different than you and me--except in how they responded to fear and failure.  

Mahatma Gandhi's 100-yard dash
The great Mahatma Gandhi wasn't always great.  He made a fool of himself the first time he tried a case as a young lawyer.  He stood up to give his arguments, but got so nervous and flustered that he couldn't get a word out.  So, he turned and ran.  That's right, Mahatma Gandhi did the hundred yard dash out the back door.  But, to his credit, Gandhi went back to that courtroom on another day.  How many of us would have decided never to show our face around that courtroom again after such a humiliating failure?  

Moses argues with God
Talk about getting shut down by fear.  Even Moses cowered when God told him to go liberate the Hebrews.  Moses thought this was a bad idea and protested loudly:   "Lord, they'll never believe me!"     Lord, just send somebody else.  I'm not a good speaker.  Never have been."   

Finally, God grew tired of listening to his kvetching and said, "Moses, your brother, Aaron, is a good speaker.  Take him along, if you must, but get going."  And Moses went, fear and all.  

Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt was one of America's most accomplished women—and she was well acquainted with fear.  She said, "You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  Then you are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror.  I can take the next thing that comes along.'  You must do the thing you think you cannot do."  

If we fail to attempt the thing we think we cannot do, it can mean the death of our spirit.  It can mean going through life merely tolerating our existence.  It can mean dying without having risked or felt the sting of failure--or savored the joy of success.  

The Wizard and the Tin Man
When we face that thing we think we can't do, most of us become like the characters in the movie The Wizard of Oz.  They all thought there was something wrong with them.  The scarecrow wasn't smart enough, the tin man didn't have a heart, and the cowardly lion was scared.  So they went off to see the wizard to get fixed.  But in the end, the wizard couldn't do anything for them they hadn't already done for themselves.  It was in undertaking their journey, flaws and all, that they discovered and developed the strengths that had been inside them all along.   

Just like them, we have everything we need to begin our journey, right now.  So let's begin today.  let's have some fun in life.  And when fear threatens to shut down your dream—as it will—Stop!  Look fear in the face….and keep going.



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