“Do it afraid, jump and build your wings on the way down”
I procrastinated writing this article for a very longtime. My excuse has been that I am not ready; I need to get a few things in place. However, I would never be ready, things would never be perfect. I just have to do it and do it afraid too. While I am waiting for everything to be perfect, someone else is learning from their mistakes.
So I chose this topic because I’m currently living it and also I feel it is something everybody can relate to. To be honest, my first public speaking engagement was on the topic and I figured it’d be easy to just write about it.
What comes to mind when you think of the topic “Doing it Afraid”? FEAR right? Well, that’s exactly what it is.
What is fear?
You may have heard that FEAR is the acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real, which is exactly what it is. Recently, I was listening to a podcast from one of my mentors Terri Savelle Foy and she told a hilarious story. Basically, every morning around 5am she goes jogging around a particular path which she really likes. One morning a group of women stopped her abruptly, and said she shouldn’t go down her usual route because there was a skunk there that could attack her. She thought to herself that there was no way she was going to get attacked by a skunk. As such she decided to change her path and started jogging round another path. After a few days, she really missed her original path because this new route was narrow and not as nice. So she thought to herself, “what if those ladies were lying?” So that morning she proceeded on her original path. As she was jogging, she saw a black object with white stripes and she freaked out. She ran for her life, even dropping her phone in the process and praying silently. Anyway, later that morning she was driving out with her daughter and saw the same object in the same position. She wondered why the skunk hadn’t moved an inch and decided to take a closer look. Upon getting there, she realized it was a baseball and not a skunk. Surely the FEAR of the skunk had prevented her from following the path she loved dearly and received the most pleasure.
What are the types of fear people face?
1. Fear of failure: “What if I fall? What if you fly?”
Trust me when I say it is okay to fail, failure is a necessary part of the process to success. Peter Drucker says “fail fast, fail first and fail often.” We are created to learn by failure. How does a baby learn how to walk? The child tries to stand up, falls down, tries again, takes a few steps, falls down again, and before you know it the child is running around. The only way you know how to do anything is to fail at it. Then, from the previous experiences, you would know how not to do it.
Most of the world’s most successful people were experts at failing. Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” This is just one of the many setbacks he faced in life. When he tried to get MGM studios to distribute Mickey Mouse in 1927, he was told the idea wouldn’t work that a giant mouse on the screen would terrify women. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs dropped out of school. Thomas Edison made at least a thousand attempts to create the light bulb.
At the last Women in Business & Managament - WIMBIZ - conference my aunt shared her story at how she failed to attract investors for her hotel project and after about 7 years of trying, she finally gave up. Shortly after, her dream investor came onboard. Today, her hotel has been number one on the trip advisor list for Lagos.
“Is it a risk making a change from what you are currently doing to what you want to do? You might fail, you might find out that you don’t like it as much as you expected. But there is also a risk in staying where you are? You might fail. You might get fired, you might take a pay cut. Or worst of all you might come to the end of your life feeling regret for never having reached your potential or doing what you love. Which risk would you rather live with?”
- John Maxwell.
2. Fear of Trading Security for the unknown
After I informed my mentor, my now ex CEO, that I was leaving the company which I loved so much, he was intrigued and wanted to speak with me because when someone wants to take a leap of faith like I was, certainly that person was on to something. He proceeded to tell me his own story. When he was about 31, he resigned from a well-paid job. He wanted to come back to Nigeria to do something in the asset management space. This was about 20 years ago when the financial industry in Nigeria was very premature. He was leaving the security of a well-paid, stable job for the unknown. Today this company is the largest non-bank financial institution in Nigeria.
3. Fear of what others will say or think?
People fulfilling other people’s dreams such as studying medicine because your father is a doctor or dating or marrying a particular person because of parental pressure usually fit into this category. I recently read an article about a hospice worker who shared on the “Top 5 regrets of the dying”. The most common regret was “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”. Life is precious. You only have one life to live. There is no dress rehearsal, this is the real thing. Why don’t you live the life that you want to live, so that you don’t end up like those referenced by the hospice worker.
4. Fear of not being able to cope financially?
This is what I believe may be the most common fear. Trust me you would be fine. You will just have to make some adjustments. It’s all about delayed gratification as opposed to instant satisfaction. Would you rather pay now and play later or play now and pay later? My story would provide further insight.
Why is it important to do it afraid?
Basically you only live once, so live. Life is too precious to spend it doing what you do not like or living someone else’s dream. What if you do it afraid and succeed? What if it pays off and you live the life of your dreams. Wouldn’t you like to know?
Growing up we had financial challenges. I grew up never wanting to experience lack and decided to work my way silly. I admired an aunt of mine who worked at Citi Bank at the time. She lived in a nice flat and drove a nice sports car. So I figured, I would follow her path and decided to study accounting and finance. After a couple of years, I got my dream job in my dream company and loved it but then life happened. I had kids and didn’t get a chance to see them often. Also, I wasn’t fulfilled and so I began to feel uneasy. Then life began to happen, my mum was diagnosed with a brain tumor for the second time and I had to travel with her abroad for about 6 weeks which gave me plenty of time to think. Just before that a school mate who was so full of life had passed away at a very young age and not long after that, the Dana crash happened and many young people I knew passed away. This coupled with some other life experiences, made me realize that life and time are both precious. What if I passed away? What have I done with the time that has been given to me? Have I spent enough time with those that matter to me? What’s the point of doing something that didn’t bring joy, fulfillment? What legacy have I left? I began to think of leaving my job but then I was afraid. My job was my security, I didn’t want to live the life of my childhood. My job was my identity, what would people think? What if I failed? I joined a discipleship class in my Church, Guiding Light Assembly called Masterlife, and my life began to change. I shared my fears with my group members and they began to pray with and for me. I prayed and sought God and He showed up. He told me to resign. I said to Him but I don’t have a plan B. I don’t know what I want to do or what I’m good at. Then He took me to Genesis Chapter 12 when he told Abraham to leave his family and the land he knew to the land that He would show Him. Abraham didn’t have a Plan B, he didn’t see the end result but he jumped and that was my cue? Today I have done things that I would never have dreamed of; I’m working in a job I love and living the life of my dreams. I’m spending time with my family. It’s not easy but it is so worth it!
How to do it afraid?
1. Change your belief system:
I recently read an interesting story in one of John Maxwell’s books about the elephant. Do you know how trainers control massive 5 ton elephants and keep them from running away? When the elephants are babies, they tie one foot to a wooden post that is secured in the ground. The elephant tries to get away but because it is not yet strong it is unable to break away and it gives up. From that moment on whenever the elephant’s leg is secured it believes it cannot get away - even though it is able to and has been able to for a long time. Humans are like that. We are all programmed by our self-belief. We are limited by our thinking and what limits us is fear. However, fear is a thief and will limit us from breaking away and accomplishing our God given desires. Imagine this I hate flying but I love travelling. So I have to make myself see the benefits of travelling and the wonderful places I would not get to see, if I give into my fear of flying.
2. Believe in yourself and believe in your dreams
Paul Martinelli says, “When your belief matches your potential then your life will change”. “Where your focus goes your energy flows”. “Your results reflect your belief”. “You cannot out-perform your own self-belief”. The Bible says “As a man thinketh so is he”.
3. Build your faith
Think positive thoughts. Stay away from negative people. You need to be in a conducive environment and surround yourself with people who believe in you. Celebrate your victories. Believe what God says about you. He says “You can do all things through Christ”. He says He has not giving us a Spirit of fear but of power, love and of a sound mind.
4. Do it now:
Most people like myself, want to wait till everything is perfect but remember while you are waiting for things to be perfect someone else is learning from their mistakes. I recently read a story of a young, struggling actor. He wanted to write a script about a young, under-dog boxer who surprised everyone by winning the title but he thought he was being unrealistic and no one would buy into the story. So he left it. In 1975, he watched a match where a young relatively unknown underdog Chuck Wepner, knocked Mohammed Ali to the ground in the 9th round. The match lasted 15 rounds and even though Mohammed Ali retained his title, the young boxer almost defeated him. The young struggling actor was inspired by this match and began to write the script that night. Within three days he was done and that movie won three Oscars and launched the actor into a multi-million dollar career. That movie is ‘Rocky’ and the actor is Sylvester Stallone. Susan Jeffers says “Every time you take a step into the unknown, you experience fear. There is no point in saying, ‘When I am no longer afraid, then I will do it’, you’ll be waiting for a long time. The fear is part of the package.”
5. Take the first step without knowing what lies ahead?
This is what I did; see where I am today. A few weeks ago, I was invited by one of the world’s top consulting firms, to speak to its staff on financial planning. I was invited alongside top investment houses in the country, one of which was the company I resigned from. Everyone was surprised that I was the only person representing myself. Abraham in the Bible didn’t know where he was going but he took the first step of faith and today we are talking about him thousands of years after. I didn’t have a plan but I was secure in God’s plan for me.
6. Build a Dream Team: You need to surround yourself with a dream team. People that believe in you. You need a mentor (someone who has walked the walk and you can look up to), a coach (someone who believes in you), a confidant (someone you can share deep concerns and thoughts with), a buddy ( someone you can have fun with or have a laugh with), a sponsor ( someone who believes in you and would sponsor you or find the funds to support you), and a Judas ( someone to keep you accountable and remind you that you can’t share your dreams with the world).
In conclusion, Isaiah 41:10 of the Bible says, “Fear not, there is nothing to fear, for I am with you”. In 2nd Timothy 1:7, the Bible also says “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
I hope you are inspired to send that manuscript to the publisher even though you are afraid it would be turned down. Audition for the part in the movie even if you are scared you are not good enough. Go back to college to get your degree even though you feel you are too old or not smart enough. Preach that message even though your knees are shaking. Launch that business even if you are scared it won’t work out. Get out of that abusive relationship even though you are scared of being alone.
Remember someone out there is waiting on you to be obedient to Gods call on your life, to be inspired by your story.
I read a very profound quote which says;
“Sometimes what you're most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.”
On a final note “You can listen to your fears and pay with your life. Or you can pay the price of overcoming your fears and live. It’s up to you.”
- John C. Maxwell
Ask yourself this question and answer it genuinely: What would you attempt, if you knew you wouldn’t fail?