The picture to the right is of Doug from his very first author visit at a school!
As a first-time author, he was very excited by the prospect of talking about his book with kids who were his ideal readers.
But yet he worried, “What if I bomb? What if I’m boring? What if I just don’t know what I’m doing, and everyone — the teachers, the kids, the administrators — gets restless?”
Of course I told him he had nothing to worry about, and I’m happy to say that he was thrilled with the reception he received.
The kids had bunches of interesting (and observant) questions, and since the librarian had read parts of Knight to some of them, they were up on many of the details of the plot and ready to hear more.
That night Doug told me that he was going to sleep with the feeling of having realized a long-held dream. And it was pretty great.
What about you? Are you living your dream? Or do you feel like you’re taking steady steps toward your dreams?
If not, you’re probably being held back by the same kinds of “What if I fail?” fears and doubts that Doug was having.
Do you wish you could find the courage to do what you really feel called to do?
Are you holding onto a dream or goal that feels too big or scary to act on?
Do you watch other people accomplish amazing things and wonder if it will ever be your time?
When I quit my lucrative job and moved to Mexico to volunteer with Doctors Without Borders to provide health care to isolated, indigenous communities, most people thought it was a very brave (if not a little crazy) thing to do.
But what looked like a giant act of bravery (and a tiny bit of insanity) from me was really just the culmination of a series of small courageous choices, the kind of choices anyone could make on any day of the week.
I talk with many women who want to make really big changes in their lives, but they just don’t take the necessary steps.
Some might say it’s low self-esteem — they just don’t believe in themselves enough to make those big changes, but I beg to differ. I think it’s more that they haven’t practiced taking even small risks. They haven’t built up their “courage” muscles.
I think it’s taking small daily steps that stretch us out of our comfort zone that ultimately make the big leaps into our dreams possible.
Research shows that human beings are wired for novelty and challenge. Put more simply, people are happiest when they are doing something new and difficult.
This shouldn’t be a surprise: Who are among the happiest people on the planet?
Kids, right? And it’s not because that they don’t have “adult” responsibilities, it’s because they are great at having new and challenging experiences.
Why is it that when we get older, we no longer embrace novelty and challenge?
Babies will take their first tentative steps, fall down, and get right back up again a hundred times before they learn to walk. An adult tries something new, fails once, and thinks, “Oh, well. I guess I wasn’t meant to do that.”
And as a result, that adult stays feeling stuck and small.
Want to feel better about yourself? Get used to the idea that the things you really want are hard to achieve.
Want to move forward? Embrace the fact that you will fail a hundred times before you succeed.
Your best bet is to learn to look forward to a long slog through many, many mistakes, multiple defeats and disappointments before you reach your goal.
In the end, bravery can be as much about desire as it is about overcoming some particular fear. It’s as much about accepting the obstacles in your path as it is about steeling yourself to overcome them.
If you’d like to talk about the exact steps to take to cultivate the courage required to live your dreams, I encourage you to sign up for a completely complementary Live on Purpose Discovery Session with me. Find a time that works for you here.
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