What’s the Boldest Thing You’ve Ever Done?
Here's something I believe with all my heart: the most profound personal growth is a result of your boldest actions.
This has been hammered home to me through my training and work as a coach, but mostly through personal experience. Any time I have taken a bold action, I have turned a corner in my life and discovered an entirely new vista.
Most of us fear bold action.
We are creatures of habit, and we crave the comfort and security of the known world. Over time, we develop perceptions and beliefs that define us — or trap us. I have spent a lot of my life in fear. I hate writing that, but it's true. I feared doing the wrong thing, making other people mad, looking stupid, disappointing people, doing something dangerous, getting in trouble, being alone.
No question about it, these fears held me back in areas of my life. From an outsider's perspective, I've had a pretty good life, and I'm certainly not complaining. But I know that I could have been living an extraordinary life. I intend to do so for the rest of my life.
Do you see yourself in any of this? Would you like to live an extraordinary life?
Think about the fears you have had in your life and what you might have done if those fears had been lifted off of you. Perhaps you are thinking fear is not your poison. Maybe it's been inertia or bad luck. There are legitimate bad circumstances that can limit us, but I think if we dig deep, we discover that inertia and bad luck are just fear in disguise. We fear success or failure or any of the fears I listed above, so we sabotage ourselves.
If fear disappeared what bold actions would you take in your life today?
Here's how I would define bold actions:
- Actively looking beyond your current beliefs and perceptions. Considering new ideas that feel strange and trying them out for size.
- Trying a new activity or hobby or endeavor even though you think you might not succeed at it or do it well. Having as much fun learning as you do accomplishing.
- Doing something that feels right and good for you in spite of other people telling you that you shouldn't do it.
- Doing the right thing when the wrong thing would be easier or more profitable in some way.
- Making a huge shift in lifestyle to support your evolving beliefs and values.
- Going after a goal or dream with all of your heart and effort even though you know that failure is a possibility.
- Viewing failure as a natural part of bold action and growth and embracing it.
- Making a big move or change in your life or career that is scary, but doing it anyway because you accept that change is the only way to move forward.
- Being real, authentic, open, vulnerable, and accepting of yourself. Understanding that perfection is in being human. Falling down, getting up, trying again, laughing at yourself and forgiving yourself.
- Loving someone without conditions or expectations.
- Letting go of people, things or habits that are pulling you down or holding your back even though it's uncomfortable to do so.
- Asking for what you want and believing that you deserve it. Accepting that no might be the answer.
Fear is a very strange emotion. It's one that should be applied to an immediate threat or danger — ie: a wild animal about to eat you. But most of our fears are about future unknowns. We are afraid of thoughts we are having about circumstances that are not real and may never be real.
Here's my cure for fear: take action. Once you take action, almost always you discover that the thing you feared is not so frightening.
Here's my other cure for fear: change your thoughts. Break down and analyze what you fear and change your thoughts about it. Feeling follows thought.
Here are some bold and fearless actions that I and some of my friends have taken that have been life-altering and extraordinary:
1. I moved to New York City. This is the boldest thing I've ever done. I was 25, my mom had just died, and I was offered a big PR job in New York. I was a scared, young Southern girl with lots of pastel suits and big hair during the 80's. But I moved anyway, and it changed my life. My career took off, I became self-sufficient and independent, and I met my future husband there.
2. My best friend moved with me without a job. I asked my friend Elizabeth to be my roommate in New York, and she said yes without blinking. This was probably more stupid than fearless, but the fear kicked in once she arrived in the City! She quit her job in Atlanta, left her circle of friends and family and moved without a job lined up. She pounded the pavement in New York until she found a great job working for a big magazine as an editor. Really bold.
3. My friend Larry gave up a huge job and started a non-profit. Larry worked for a big marketing agency making lots of money. He had a dream to start a spiritual non-profit helping people align their lives and careers with their spiritual goals. In spite of his wife flipping out (she now works with him), they agreed to sell their big home, he quit his job, and now they are happier than they have ever been as the founders of Cloudwalk.
4. Jeni has four kids and started a business. She also created a non-profit called Pebbletossers, inviting kids to volunteer in various ways that match their abilities and interests. She created an amazing web site, found funding and support, and is helping so many families and organizations — all while raising four of the sweetest, most charming children I've ever met.
5. Betty started a business, it tanked, and she's starting over. My friend Betty left a big corporate job to start a business that she really believed in. In spite of her dedication, planning and hard work, the business failed and she had a boat load of debt. She says she'd do it over because she learned so much. She has almost paid off the debt and is looking for the next path of learning. She only spent about ten minutes pouting. She's also about to marry the man of her dreams because she responded to a kooky message from his kids on Match.com even though it was way out-of-character for her.
6. Michelle has had cancer twice but seizes life. My friend Michelle has had Hodgkin's disease and breast cancer and has survived both fearlessly. In spite of her health challenges, she has a big job as a public relations executive and is the breadwinner of her family. She and her husband have raised a beautiful daughter. She is an amazing friend with one of the most giving spirits of anyone I know. Cancer has not stopped her or held her back even though anyone would have understood if it had. She lives boldly every day.
Here is my wish for you. Every day you will take bold action. You will work to change your mind about fear, and you will act in spite of fear. If you have a belief, challenge it. It you have an idea, pursue it. If you have a dream, follow it. Don't wait. Timing is flying by you. Today is the day for extraordinary living!