How often do you see someone do something, write something, make something, be something, and think, I could have done that better, myself? How many big ideas are whirling in your mind at any point in time? How often do you tell yourself that tomorrow you’ll start your new business, put up your new blog, post your first song to YouTube, pitch your new product to a potential big client, begin training for your first marathon?
What keeps you on this side of the fence? The side where nothing big happens – no big wins, no big shame? Fear.
Fear is the oppressive, pitiless ruler on the safe side of the fence.
In James Altucher’s newsletter, Just One Thing to Do, he sings out loud the recurring lyrics and melody that play in my head, and the heads of so many other self-starters who’ve felt paralyzed:
You can only make a difference in your life when you stand out. When you aren’t afraid to go beyond the fringe.
This is the place where both fools and geniuses live. I never know which one I will be every time I go there. But I hope I never forget the maze of pathways to get there.
Fear keeps us stuck. It binds us to mediocrity and invisibility. It creates upper limits more confining than any a market or industry can produce. It destines us to be critics rather than players.
And what are we afraid of?
We’re afraid of judgment.
The late, great Debbie Ford taught me something about judgment that changed me. It’s not the judgment of others that we so intensely fear. For no one could ever judge us as harshly as we judge ourselves. We refuse to sing our songs, we decline to interject our opinions into the “big conversation” because we deem ourselves fools and failures.
We sit in the dark to avoid seeing ourselves in the light. We’re afraid we’ll be right about the chips, cracks and faults we suspect in ourselves.
Are you afraid of yourself? I challenge you to turn the tables on your own judgment by asking yourself this question:
How will I judge myself if I continue to do nothing?
The battle against fear isn’t won through giant advances. Most of us don’t possess the internal resources for those kinds of campaigns. To win this war, we must employ a strategy of small steps. The single, simple weapon that cripples fear is action. The smallest step in a forward direction begets the next step, and then the next. And before we know it, we’re running. And beautifully, instead of running away from something, we’re running toward something.
At some point, we will have run so far that it’s pointless to turn back.
Here’s a priceless little secret. You don’t have to fix yourself first. You don’t have to improve, expand, become, or correct before you take the first step.
It’s true that you won’t know whether you’re walking the path of a genius or taking a fool’s journey. None of us know until we get there. But even the smallest bit of travel broadens the mind and the horizons. And as you make your way, you’ll come across little gems that allow you to keep putting one foot in front of the other: resilience, stamina, courage, resolve.
You don’t need to fix yourself first, because there’s nothing wrong with you – aside from the fact that you believe you’re not enough.
So ask yourself the question: How will I judge myself if I continue to do nothing?
And then today, just as you are, take the first step. I’ll be walking with you.