Weekly 3: Face your fears (and do the work)

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Idea Journal Weekly 3
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Idea Journal Weekly 3

June 27 · Issue #197 · View online

We combine 3 ideas to help you think differently and be more creative.


Summary: Most of us know what we need to do to grow and improve our lives. But fear stands in the way. This issue offers three perspectives to help you overcome that fear.
(~3 min read)

#1. You’re not unique—everyone is afraid
Marketing maven Seth Godin writes on his blog that, “Shipping is fraught with risk and danger.”
Whenever you send an email, launch a product, or raise your hand you’re exposing yourself to criticism. And in some cases, more than criticism: the negative consequences of annoying an influential person or wasting money.
No wonder we’re all afraid to ship.
But do you really have a choice?
As Godin notes: “A life spent curled in a ball, hiding in the corner might seem less risky, but in fact it’s certain to lead to ennui and eventually failure.”
Since you’re going to ship anyway, why indulge your fear at all?
Godin illustrates the point with a running analogy.
In a long distance race, everyone gets tired. But the winner is the runner who figures out where to put the tired … how to store it away until after the race is over.”
Of course she’s tired. Everyone is. 
But that’s not the point. The point is to run.
For Godin, the same is true for shipping: “Everyone is afraid. Where do you put the fear?”
#2. Cut your fears down to size
Choreographer and dancer Twyla Tharp writes in her book The Creative Habit that fear is a natural part of any creative endeavor.
Why didn’t you speak up during that brainstorming session at work? When that idea for a new project came to you, why didn’t you pursue it?
There’s nothing wrong with having fears – the mistake is to let them paralyze you before you begin.
For Tharp, if you examine your concerns closely, you should be able to identify and break down the ones that are holding you back.
She names fives of the most common fears people face when they’re doing something new, along with some helpful perspectives for dealing with them:
I’m not sure how to do it: Doing is better than not doing, plus “we’re not talking about constructing the Brooklyn Bridge.” If you try and it doesn’t work, learn from your mistakes and use a different approach next time.
People will think less of me: Not the people who matter – your friends and family will still love you.
It will take too much time: Maybe, but if it’s something you really want to do, make the time. Tharp cites the golfer Ben Hogan’s idea that “Every day you don’t practice, you’re one day further from being good.”
It will cost money: Once your basic needs are met, money is there to be used: What better investment than in yourself?
It’s self-indulgentSo what? How often do you indulge yourself? Tharp notes that “You won’t be of much value to others if you don’t learn to value yourself and your efforts.”
#3. Use your fear as a guide
Author and entrepreneur Derek Sivers writes on his blog that you should use your fear as a guide. 
“Whatever scares you, go do it.”
Sivers has been using this rule for both small and big life decisions for over thirty years. 
For example, on the small end of the spectrum it could be the nervousness you feel when you’re scared to talk to someone intimidating. So, acknowledge that you’re scared and do it anyway.
Just go talk to them.
You can use the same approach with bigger decisions: from visiting a new country, to quitting your job, or starting a business. 
Whatever scares you, go do it.
After all, fear is just a form of excitement. 
And as Sivers points out, once you do something that previously scared you, you’re no longer scared of it. 
“As you go through life, doing everything that scares you, you fear less and less in the world.”
Quote of the week
“Life is an ongoing process of choosing between safety (out of fear and need for defense) and risk (for the sake of progress and growth). Make the growth choice a dozen times a day.”
- Attributed to psychologist Abraham Maslow
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