Day 4: The big F-word
Nothing kills dreams like fear. Today, it’s time to face a few of ours. Your task is to write down your biggest fears in your journal. That’s it, today! I just want them to hit paper.
When I went through Step 4 a couple days ago, I wrote down 5 different fears – they were the first ones that came to mind I’m sure I could have spent an incredible amount of time trying to determine my “true” fears – but hell, I overcomplicate the most simple things at times, so I tried to just write them as they came to me. Summarized, my fears are as follows:
- I’m afraid my “gypsy ways” will “prevent” me from settling in Ohio.
- I’m afraid I’ll never find my true calling and be successful in life.
- I’m afraid I’ll never find true love.
- I’m afraid I’ll never make my parents proud.
- I’m afraid someone might get hurt as a result of my epilepsy.
After contemplating this throughout the work day last Thursday, these are the five fears I came up with. As I reflect on this several days after the initial “assignment” – I still feel that these fears are valid fears. While I don’t feel consumed by my fears, these things are things that I often find myself thinking about. The reality is…I may not be thinking directly about these five things, but many of my thoughts stem from one of these fears. It is my belief that many of our actions are driven by fear. It is simply human nature. What can differentiate us from others is how we let these fears dictate and control our actions.
Friday’s assignment seemed relatively “easy” as well. Check it out:
Day 5: The Truth
Fear is big, but the truth is bigger. Today, I want you to take out the list of fears and write down one line of truth under each. Don’t argue with the fear, don’t get tangled. Just write down the truth. For example, I am afraid that if I don’t sell out the Start Conference people will think I am a failure. The last 5 sold out and if this doesn’t maybe it means the best days are over. The truth I’d write down is, “If you aim for 1,000 and only get 800 people to attend, you’ve still doubled the size from the last one. That’s a win!”
Within 10 minutes, I had some “simple truths” written down in my journal. For added impact, I went out to my work vehicle and grabbed my red ballpoint pen. Below is the very model of red pen I prefer at the moment. Get your nerd on with me and check it out:
That’s it. I took out my pen and wrote these “truths” down. I placed my notebook down and sat there for a moment. Step 5 took me all of about 10 minutes to accomplish. I decided to write for about 30-45 minutes after doing Step 5. What you are reading at this very moment are the subsequent thoughts after accomplishing Step 5. I figured the act of breaking this down in a blog post would be a good activity to engage in to further reflect on all of this nonsense. So…here we go.
The fears I identified are in bold type below. The “truths” I identified are in italics below each fear.
1. I’m afraid my “gypsy ways” will “prevent” me from settling in Ohio.
- My parents simply want me to be happy and healthy *wherever* that may be.
2. I’m afraid I’ll never find my true calling and be successful in life.
- A considerable amount of my employment history are jobs where I followed my heart and did what I loved.
3. I’m afraid I’ll never find true love.
4. I’m afraid I’ll never make my parents proud.
- My parents claim to be proud of me. (See #1)
5. I’m afraid someone might get hurt as a result of my epilepsy.
- My seizures are best controlled when I am healthy and take my medication on-time.
After this simple breakdown…I sat and read it over. I tried to do so with an objective point of view. This is an admirable goal, but the reality is that this is challenging for me – because I’m the damn fool that is writing this shit in the first place.
At any rate…I reflected on this for a few moments, trying to think about this being someone else’s fears and truths. This is much easier said than done. Besides, it’s always easier to criticize someone else, isn’t it? I say this…but if you’re anything like me – we are often our biggest and worst critics. At any rate, my initial thoughts and observations were as follows:
It appears as though I’m looking at my past as an indicator of what the future has in store for me. Tsk, tsk, tsk. We all know the old saying, “past performance does not dictate future results.” With regard to the first fear listed…this appears to be precisely what I am doing. The only difference is that I am generating fear based on speculation of what might occur when I settle in Ohio. The reality is that I may never get a chance to settle in Ohio. The reality is that I could be dead tomorrow. This life that we live is short and far too frequently we take it for granted. Moreover, the decision to relocate back to Ohio was most certainly not a hasty decision. Months of reflection and discussion with family and friends led me to making this decision and taking the subsequent actions to move this forward into action. My desire to return back to Ohio is a well, thought out and calculated decision. The bottom line is that past performance does not dictate future results. Simple.
The second fear of mine is that I’ll never find my true calling and be successful in life. Growing up, I remember little bits of wisdom that my father told us. Much of these little bits are still repeated by him to this day. He used to tell all of us kids:
“Do what you love, do it well and the money will come.”
I still believe this to be true. Allow me to explain… The money in this case is a paycheck for most of us. We view the compensation we receive as a result of our employment the objective of our career. I challenge you to take a different perspective of money. Moreover, let’s insert the word success in place of money. Now, we read:
“Do what you love, do it well and success will come.”
Personally, for me, success is more important the the pursuit of the almighty dollar. While I don’t run around burning dollars just to make a point and to “spite the system” – I don’t do this because this behavior is simply dumb. At this point in time, our federal reserve notes still have some “value.” While I won’t go in depth about the federal reserve and the banking system, let us at the very least acknowledge the devaluation of the US dollar over the past 100 years.
Again, let’s revisit the statement, “Do what you love, do it well and success will come.” This is absolutely true, despite articles such as the one featured in Forbes recently, “Five Reasons to Ignore the Advice to Do What You Love.” This article is simply an example of one of the ways that people try to stomp out success and personal growth. The system wants you be a dispensable cog in the machine. The system wants you mechanized. The system wants you to understand your value. To the system, you are expendable. You are obsolete.
When we do what we love, we begin living with passion. When we live with passion, we live with an unbridled freedom to experience reality on the many levels that we do and try to communicate the manner in which we do so with others so that they may experience the abundant joy that accompanies our passion. Passion helps us define our dreams.
Often times, this passion is seen as out of line – perhaps even threatening. Passion induces the desire to critically think…but this is dangerous, because passion also induces the desire to act spontaneously, sometimes not with most desirable results. Either way, passion results in often extraordinary life experiences. Even the most simple and mundane tasks become remarkable when performed with passion. If passion is channeled and experienced in a healthy, positive and beneficial way, we live deliberately and experience the benefits of doing so. The things we do, we do them effortlessly. We do them well. We grow our skill set and become increasingly successful as we continue learning. When we stop learning we stop growing. We become stagnant. Stagnation is a breeding ground for apathy.
I like to think I’ve followed my heart throughout my life. I don’t have the house and the yard, nor do I have anything of any significant value. However, I am happy and healthy. I am prepared to deal with life on life’s terms. A while back, I spoke with my aunt, my mother’s oldest sister. At 75 years old, she mentioned that she was “still trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up.” I suppose the reality is that we never figure out what our true calling is. I suspect her thought process is like that of many people in that stage of their lives. When I’m 75, I want to be asking myself the same question. I want to continue following my heart. I want to continue loving hard. I want to continue living.
The third fear was a thought that I’ll never be able to find true love. My truth was simple: God is love. When we realize this one simple truth, we can begin truly experience life. God transcends religion and the labels that language limits us to. God is love. When we experience love, we experience God. It is my opinion that true love with another cannot be shared until you have gone through the process of learning how to truly love one’s self. I’m not talking about some Stuart Smalley bullshit affirmation, either. The simple realization that God is love is so profound and easy yet incredibly difficult at the same time.
My fourth fear was that I would never make my parents proud. Yes, this is a fear of mine. I’m a man in my mid-30’s who fears that he will somehow let down my parents. Let’s take a look back at the first fear and more specifically, the first truth. My parents want me to be happy and healthy… Moreover, my parents have told me they were proud of me. The simple fact of the matter is that I need to continue to believe people when they say things that are backed up my their actions. My uncle used to say, “What you do speaks so loud I can’t hear what you say.” It is important to remember this when observing the behavior of others especially with regard to our own. Live proudly so that others may be proud of you as well.
Finally, the last fear I had listed was the fear that I might hurt someone else as a result of having a seizure. Becoming more accepting of my epilepsy over this past year has brought up a considerable amount of emotion, especially since not necessarily denying it in the past…but certainly not dealing with it accordingly or in a responsible manner. While I have epilepsy, the simple truth is that my seizures are best controlled when I am healthy and take my medication on time. Health is something I am learning more about lately, especially with regard to our diet and the source of the food we put into our bodies. The point is that if I have fears about potentially hurting someone if I have a seizure…then the best solution to addressing that fear would be to take measure to mitigate the cause of the fear (seizures). If I have identified lifestyle choices where I feel healthy and well and minimal seizures occur – then these are likely good lifestyle choices for me.
Over the past two days, these exercises have generated an incredible amount of thought and reflection. I found it extremely beneficial to write down my fears. I found it even more beneficial to analyze these fears and come up with a simple truth that counters that fear and puts it in its’ place. These exercises have forced me to improve upon my powers of objective observation (among others). This is an incredible experience we are sharing together with The Start Experiment. I’m grateful to be a part of what is taking place with all the people involved in it. Who would have imagined that this all began with a little book called “Start,” by Jon Acuff? I sure didn’t.
If you haven’t read it…it’s time to START. Check it out.