Courage is the foremost of all virtues. –Winston Churchill
Is there anything better than the family beach vacation? Sun. Sand. Surf. Spike Ball. Extended Happy Hours. All our minor troubles seem to melt away in the salt air and suntan lotion.
But for my youngest daughter, last week’s trip to the beach entailed staring down a monster.
She desperately wanted to use the boogie board but couldn’t get past the first set of smaller waves. She would sprint through the shallow surf but then turn and run toward the safety of the shore just before the wave crashed.
Every time she ran away, the waves grew more menacing in her mind. Before too long, running away became a habit. Normally tough-minded and focused, she was now allowing the monster of the ocean to dictate her plans and crush her goals.
After a few hours of struggle, and some family encouragement, she finally changed her mindset. Rather than running away, she realized attacking the wave was the best way to overcome her fears. Once she confronted the waves, they no longer seemed so frightening. And it opened up a whole new world of fun and excitement she never thought possible. Time to hang ten!
Don’t we all face similar monsters in our work and personal lives? And the sooner we confront them, the sooner we can accomplish all of our goals and dreams.
Dive In And Start Kicking
In our work lives, we all have fears and insecurities we need to overcome. We can try to ignore them or create coping mechanisms to minimize their impact. But we will never truly reach our potential until we face them head on. And the longer we run from them, the more menacing they become in our mind.
Dealing with a painful client. Making a difficult decision on personnel or a player who is hurting the team. Taking the first step toward writing a business plan. Starting the great American novel. Asking for that promotion. Making cold calls to grow the business.
On that last point, my boss once offered me some simple advice to help me overcome my own fears:
“If you are afraid of making cold calls, I have the perfect solution. Make cold calls!”
It took me a while to process, but it is so true! The only way to overcome our fears is to dive right into the wave and start kicking!
We can tell ourselves we will do it tomorrow. We can convince ourselves we can live without it. We can pretend we don’t need to do it. But deep down, we know those are lies. And the longer we try to lock our monsters in the closet, the louder and more terrifying they become!
The Monsters Also Lurk in Our Personal Lives
The same is true in our personal lives. The longer we wait to exercise, the harder it is to take that first step toward better health. The longer we wait to repair a strained family relationship, the greater the chance we lose touch entirely. The longer we wait to address our financial situation, the deeper the hole becomes.
Our monsters will only grow more powerful if we continue to ignore them. Our most difficult challenges will not just go away. They are holding us back more than we will ever know.
We need to act today! It’s time to run toward the waves and plunge right in!
Sometimes, the Monsters Bite Back!
But what happens when we dive in and get tossed around like a rag doll? What happens when our monsters bite back?
Our client rips into us. We ask for the promotion and get turned down. We make cold calls and get rejected. We try to repair a relationship and it uncovers deep-seated resentment. We try to save money but the financial hole grows deeper.
That is okay. If we fail while boldly facing our fears, we can never lose in the long run. Even if the monster wins the initial battle, we now see that this is a war we can win! Our courage will diminish our deepest fears.
Courage is a muscle. The more we can muster it, especially in the face of adversity, the stronger we become. And even if we do not come out on top, our courage helps us see that the monster is not so scary. We can eventually beat them down!
We are not going to win every battle. We are never going to go undefeated. But if we demonstrate the courage to tackle our challenges head on, we will win in the end!
Embrace the Monster
The small waves turn into tsunamis if we run away. Our blind spots and fears will slowly erode our dreams if we choose to ignore them. Our monsters only grow more powerful if we try to lock them up.
It is not going to be easy. It will take hard work. It will take incredible discipline. But most of all, achieving success and happiness will take the uncommon courage to face our fears head on.
Embrace the monster. Dive into the next wave. Watch all your dreams come true.
Until next week, keep smiling!