We’ve all heard these words before: Just put yourself out there!” “You’ll never know unless you try.” “Get out there and make things happen!”
Often times, it’s just the kind of push we need to let go of our safety net and well, float or sink. After all, “A ship in port is safe but that’s not what ships are built for,” Grace Murray Hopper reminds us. And yet, we waiver. We hesitate. We doubt. Why is it so hard to let go?
The unknown is hard to accept. Undefined, uncharted change is challenging and just plain uncomfortable for those of us who feel perfectly content in the little box we’ve constructed for ourselves. But I keep reminding myself that there is so much more out there. The future holds an indefinite number of possibilities and opportunities if I am open to receiving them. So often, my fears include failure, not being capable (i.e. not being good enough), and getting stuck.
How do I work past that? Well, everyone fails. Perfection is not the goal. Excellence is the journey, not the destination. Failure is something I need to accept as part of the learning process – the important part is learning from it and moving on. Being capable doesn’t mean I will always have all the answers. It means I will always do my best and again, I am willing to learn from my experiences. Confession: I learn new things from my students all the time. I learn how to be a better teacher, what works and what doesn’t, how people learn, how to better communicate my thoughts and ideas, and how to facilitate learning. This constant growth fights my fear of getting stuck and becoming complacent. It’s impossible to remain the same if you’re open to learning and growing with the changes in your life.
You were not made to be stationary. You were made to go places, to do things, to make a difference, to set an example, to learn, to grow, to love, to give, to collaborate, to create, to invent, to explore, to dream, and to discover. What are you afraid of? Failure? Losing? Making the wrong decision? Starting over? Write them down. All of them. Fear cripples us if we allow it but to name your fears is to destroy them. So NAME them. Take each fear – no matter how great or small – and take action. What do you need to accept? What needs to change? What can you learn? Is this really something worth holding onto? How would you feel without this fear in your life? Fear stretches us, challenges us, and makes us stronger in the end if we choose to take action and eliminate it from our lives, piece by piece.
One of my favorite quotes wisely states, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
You have far more potential within you than lies within the safety net you’ve constructed for yourself. Free yourself from the confines of the safe harbor and set sail. Explore, dream, and discover all that is waiting for you.