If you are reading this, you might just be a lot like me. You may feel called to create and serve on a much bigger level than you feel capable of right now. Whether its taking the leap out of a J.O.B. safety net to create your own business or you know its time to finally own your impact as a leader, when you know its time to play a bigger game, it can be paralyzing.
All of my life I’ve struggled with the need to feel safe and in control. When I was 18 years old I went skiing for the very first time. I was scared out of my mind but somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that doing what scared me was my ticket out of a life I hated. It didn’t help much that I had a huge fear of heights and I was not athletic in any way. But my friend had convinced me that he would be by my side to guide me every step of the way.
Somehow I made it into the chair life without falling out and managed to stay focused on the tree line instead of the ever growing distance between me and the ground below. After a few rounds on the bunny slopes my friend convinced me to try a bigger hill. My heart was pounding and I could think of a lot of good reasons not to ski down that mountain with a big black diamond on it:
I might make a fool of myself.
I could get hurt.
My friend might leave me behind (which he did) and I wouldn’t know what to do.
Or the really big one – what if I couldn’t do it right and I failed.
You see I had a habit of giving up when things got too challenging. Instead of stretching into the unknown and learning how far I really can go I would turn away and keep myself safe. Now you might think — well that’s just being smart. Actually playing it safe had a huge cost in every area of my life: relationships, career, financial prosperity and even my health.
By trying to stay safe I wasn’t able to be the person who could overcome challenges with grace.
Well I did ski down that hill and continued to ski the rest of the day (and for many years until I discovered that I liked warm sandy beaches and spas a lot better than freezing my buns off.)
I taught my mind to embrace a challenge rather than run from it. I learned how to do what scares me in order to become unstoppable. Like many people, I’ve had to do things that scared me over and over again. Especially when you are an industry leader and owner of your own business. You will be faced over and over again with fears, risks and the unknown.
And every time I face a risk again the voice inside my head kicks in and tries to talk me out of it.
- When I went indoor rock climbing and everything inside of me said, “You aren’t strong enough” and I wanted to quit. Instead, I asked for help from the guide and conquered as many walls as I could.
- I’ve zip-lined through the tall jungle trees, snorkeled along side sand sharks and even kayaked down some pretty hairy waterfalls. My fears always tried to talk me out of it but I learned to coach myself through the fear and into exhilaration.
- When I first stepped onto a stage in front of 700 people to do a keynote in Australia I felt sick to my stomach but I stayed connected to my power and got a standing ovation. As a matter of fact EVERY time I give a presentation I get scared and wish I had not said yes. But I do it anyway – I’ve learned to flip my anxiety into power by connecting with WHY I am there.
- The time I made a HUGE five figure investment in the support I needed to accomplish my bigger dreams was a major leap of faith. I could see all the potential ways this investment might fail. But I said yes and took action that was in alignment with my goals — and later discovered it was the fastest way to keep growing a six (and seven) figure business.
- And 7 years ago when everything changed in my industry, my business and my life, I really struggled with what to do next. My fear of failure was at an all time high, but somehow, I found the fortitude to stick with it and carve out a path to a new kind of success.
Every time I do something that scares the crap out of me, I become stronger as a leader and entrepreneur. Now I can see that doing something that scares me can help me become more resilient too. I’m training myself to do what most people won’t do – because they let their fears make their decisions for them.
Here are some ways that you can challenge yourself to grow beyond your perceived limitations:
- Make a list of your fears or “I would never do ________ (fill in the blank)” and start doing each of them with a friend.
- Set an intention to be bold. Notice how often you avoid or resist doing what scares you.
- Hire a coach or mentor to identify your perceived limits in your business (or life) to guide you past them.
- Surround yourself with people who challenge and surpass their limits regularly. You can’t achieve greatness when you are surrounded by people who play it safe.
- Make your “why” so aligned and compelling that you can’t let yourself stay small and safe anymore.
As a leader, entrepreneur and change-maker, make a commitment to practice “stretching” into the unknown a regular practice. Stretching in your personal life will also help you in your professional life. One last thing. I’m not suggesting that you should be reckless. I’m suggesting that you face your own limitations and break free of your perceptions that you can’t do something.
So what’s on your list of limitations to break through? I’d love to have you share them below.