What Would You Do If You Had No Fear?
“What would you do if you had no fear?” This is the intriguing question that my friend, author Diane Conway, posed to people. Their answers inspired her to write a book of the same name. Her question inspires me to stop often during the day to ask this of myself. Even when I don’t realize that I’m fearful, I find the question useful because fear has many symptoms and disguises.
When I am afraid but don’t realize it, I can feel everything from sleepy to nervous, antsy to dull, wanting to procrastinate or burying myself in minutiae. One way I can recognize that F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real) is running the show is by reflecting on this simple yet invaluable question.
For instance, I had a meeting in Los Angeles the other day where the stakes felt high. As I entered the high-rise building elevator, avoiding my reflection in the brilliantly shined chrome, my stomach fluttered and my heart began to pound. Excitement? Anxiety? Both?
Regardless, it was certainly a good time to ask myself, “What would I do if I had no fear?” The answer came to me quickly: I would reveal more about my ideas and goals rather than hold back and wait to be sure I was safe. By the time the elevator doors parted, I felt more decisive and prepared for whatever lay in store for me. Interestingly, instead of focusing on the myriad of “what if’s” that could derail the project, I felt present and found myself enjoying rather than enduring the meeting. Although I don’t yet know the outcome of that meeting, I am relishing the “afterglow” we all get when we face fear with courage.
When last week my 15-year-old daughter came to me to talk about some hurt feelings following a conversation with a friend, I asked her gently, “What would you do right now if you had no fear?” Her sobs subsided and with renewed strength in her voice, she said, “I would call her and ask her what’s going on.” That one magic question empowered her to find her own wisdom. All she needed from me was some TLC and maybe a little cheer leading.
Not letting fear stand in our way is something most of us need to learn repeatedly. Even though I have lived through a brain tumor, I can still get caught up in the day-to-day “what if’s” that generate fear. In my book, Enough Is Enough!, I give keys for saying “boo” back to fear. This is not a one-time event; courage requires ongoing vigilance…and no excuses.
So thank you, Diane, for posing the question that all of us deserve to ask ourselves. And thank you to my family, friends, and clients who, every day, show me how to respond to this question with courage, vulnerability, and truth.