10 Seconds of Courage
Fear is a bitch. It will incessantly create 1000’s of illusions and lies to try and convince you that you’ll fail, get hurt, be embarrassed, and suffer from an almost impossible combination of simultaneous pains for doing something as simple as asking for a job or posting something on the internet that is too controversial for your alleged friends. Buy into these lies and you’ll be paralyzed into inaction, contained in a prison of your own creation.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that we all know (logically) that 99% of these worst case scenarios are complete and utter bullshit. Yes we may lose money, lose friends, lose sleep, etc. But we have the remember that these outcomes are not guarantees. These are all possibilities and probabilities, and small ones at that. 99% of the time we’ll get through it relatively unscathed. And let’s say we occasionally get full on scathed. The sun will still rise again tomorrow and we’ll live to try again another day.
That’s why I like the FEAR acronym (False Evidence Appearing Real). It’s a small but simple reminder that it’s rarely as bad as we think. In fact, it’s sometimes best if we temporarily shut off our brains just long enough to outrun the fear and get beyond the initial barrier.
Getting Through That Initial Barrier
In Julian Smith’s book Flinch, he provides several powerful exercises to help notice and break through the moments when we flinch, or feel the fear/resistance that prevents action. A great example is talking to random strangers in a store. Too easy? What about jumping into a shower while the water is still freezing cold? You’ll notice your legs actually lock up as you’re about to take that last step into the frigid blast.
But in all those exercises, the worst that happens is a brief moment of discomfort. You’d be amazed at how many people light up when you talk to them in a grocery line, shocked that there are real human beings in the building willing and able to communicate versus mull around like autonomous zombies! And that frigid water can feel refreshing and even make the warm water feel much more enjoyable when it finally heats up.
Just a Touch of Courage
I’ve had my fair share of battles with fear and resistance in the last month: projects I haven’t started, continued, or completed; conversations I put off for fear of offending or losing a friend; and major decisions that I know I need to make that I just don’t seem to get around to until I’m too tired to start them.
You might think noticing all of these barriers would be a bad thing, potentially overwhelming. But with awareness comes choice. And choice provides an avenue towards self empowerment. My choice was to adopt the strategy of 10 seconds of courage. It’s a simple deal I make with myself to act without fail for at least 10 seconds. If things become exceptionally worse after 10 seconds, I then allow myself to stop and revaluate. However I MUST initiate action no matter what.
A funny thing tends to happen once I start: fears dissolve, momentum begins, and 10 seconds easily transitions into 5 minutes or more. And if I carry it through to completion, I can take that victory into the next activity and then the next. I’ve been able to start and complete more tasks in less time and with far less stress. Best of all, my confidence has improved markedly (a reward FAR that far outweighs the fear of starting the next activity).
So there you have it, the 10 Seconds of Courage strategy to start going after your goals and dream. Write it down and give it a try. I’d love to hear your results!
About Rick Manelius
I'm a Drupal Ninja (brown belt), an aspiring author, a personal development fanatic, and an overall explorer of life. I own SoundPost Media, LLC— a Drupal agency that works with small to medium sized media compaies looking to improve their presence on the web. Stick around by subscribing to my feed, following me, or simply leaving a comment below. I appreciate you stopping by!