Most of us spend a lot of time and energy avoiding things we fear, but fear actually makes life fun and interesting. And if you only do what’s easy or familiar, you’ll miss out on a lot.
This last year I’ve been on a quest to understand, overcome, and embrace my fear. I believe that if I find greater command over my own fear I will be a better coach and better at running my business and life.
On our trip to Thailand, at Tiger Kingdom, I got the chance to face some real fear: getting into a cage with five baby tigers. Petting tigers is definitely out of my comfort zone! My close friends know that up until 3 years ago, I would run screaming from a barking Chihuahua.
It was a challenge to live by my rule: “Don’t just do what’s easy, do what’s interesting in life,” but I was determined.
I gulped when they warned, “don’t turn your back on the tigers,” “don’t forget they have sharp teeth and claws” and “don’t pet their head.” I didn’t need to be reminded about the teeth and claws and I kept wondering how I was going to avoid turning my back on five tigers at once.
In the cage, I was keenly aware of the tigers’ power and speed. Their deep throated growling made my hair stand on end. I could tell they weren’t looking at me as prey, but as I edged forward my anxiety intensified. “Face your fear, reach for what life has to offer, embrace the experience,” I chanted to myself.
I forced my hand out to pet the tiger’s belly. It’s black and auburn fur was silky soft. It’s breathing fast, as it cooled itself in the humidity. “This isn’t so hard” I thought. But then it’s tail swatted the air and I nearly jumped into the air. Luckily I caught myself and remembered not to startle the tigers.
I calmed my breathing. It was thrilling to be near the tiger’s majestic, powerful, energy and to see the absolute beauty of these animals. I felt vibrantly alive and watched them play with each other with great fascination.
I can attest that the fear intensified this experience as I was hyperaware. And I’m so glad I overcame it!
Whether we know it or not, we often let fear rob us of exciting experiences (we distract ourselves, make excuses, and avoid opportunities). It could be small things like going to a party or concert, or trying a new recipe or restaurant. Or it could be big things like interviewing for a new job, starting a new business, taking a trip to an exotic land. We may tell ourselves we’re too tired or busy or that it’s too risky, but really we’re letting fear keep us from the thrill of petting tigers.
Here’s my New Year’s challenge for you:
- Set three stretch goals
- Do three fun things you’ve never done before
Remember, there’s nothing like a coach to get you thinking outside the box and moving out of your comfort zone. I’m here to help!