Years ago I was making a spontaneous trip to my parent’s house. Upon arriving, I found the front door uncharacteristically locked. Not to be thwarted – I proceed around back to see if anyone was by the pool.
As I rounded the corner I jolted to a stop. There was my Dad, balanced precariously by his toes, about to attempt what looked to be a back flip! His heals hung over the water and his arms flayed as he tried to keep his balance. “What the heck is he doing?” I wondered.
Before I could say a word – he launched. If I’m honest, “launched” is being way too generous. However, he pushed off and did the worst dive I’ve ever seen. After the huge splash, he came to the surface with a big smile on his face!
I started running when he jumped – he is surely going to break his neck! “What the hell was that!?”, I scolded. My Dad, not one to ruffle easily, casually informed me it was a back flip (in a tone that suggested any idiot would know that). “Fine – if you want to call that a back flip, I won’t argue,” I said with exasperation. “The better question is – why did you do it?”
As he climbed out of the pool and grabbed a towel he proceeded to teach me a lesson I use every week. It is a lesson for you as well – it is about fear. Unfortunately my Dad isn’t here anymore to teach you himself, but I’ll try and do it justice.
Fear, he believed, is a pivotal element of your Journey. Not the stereotypical fear – it is straightforward. That’s when you know you are scared (and why). There are many known origins of this type of fear. Some we can avoid (e.g., bungee jumping) and some we can’t (e.g., waiting to hear the results of a biopsy). Given the overt nature of this type of fear, you have various coping methods for managing it (as much as is possible).
The pivotal dimension isn’t the overt fear, but the covert. This fear enters your life and psyche when you aren’t watching. It creeps up on you. You don’t see how you start to play it safe and/or avoid “new” or “different”. You try to deny covert fear by rationalizing it away. You rescript the fear with an alternative, “mature” interpretation. Things like:
- “It would be silly to change jobs at this point in my career – I’d lose my pension.”
- “There is too much unrest in Mexico – we should go to Florida again for our vacation.”
- “I’m too old to start dating – why would I subject myself to those silly games.”
- “If I bid on the transfer, my boss will think I’m not happy here – he’ll have it out for me after that!”
- “Why would I start a business now? We would jeopardize our retirement!”
- “We could never move – it would be too hard to make new friends.”
While these don’t smack of “fear” – that’s exactly what it is. If you don’t recognize it (and manage it), covert fear is powerfully influential. When it gets a stronghold established, it is your normal. You now live to avoid, prevent, minimize and secure. By contrast, managing covert fear helps ensure you grow, experience, learn and explore.
Which life do you prefer?
In a nutshell – this is why my Dad did a “back flip” every spring. It was a single, yet powerful act to show he could manage his covert fear. It was his battle. He looked fear in the eye, listened to his brain tell him a litany of reasons not to do it – then summoned the courage to jump!
What about you? Where is fear creeping into your life?
What is your version of the ‘back flip’? How do you manage fear (or does it manage you?)
Remember, you can’t eliminate fear – nor should you try. However, you must battle the cycle. It goes like this:
- Fear creeps its’ way into your mind.
- Once in your mind – it starts to influence your behaviors.
- When it influences behaviors – your Journey begins to decline.
The trick? Learn to manage fear. Let it know you call the shots – you don’t intend to turn over decision-making rights to your scared, inner voice. Regularly embrace it. Spend time in your discomfort zone.
Find a fear and start flipping – it doesn’t need to be pretty!
Miss you Dad…….