Life living and lessons - The ‘F’ word

It can be debilitating or not. It can be obvious to others or not. It can happen in public or in private. Regardless of how, when, or where it rears its ugly head, the one thing that it typically has in common, is that it is very personal.

What is the dreaded “F’ word you ask?  Fear!

Yes -  fear.  Something that most of us can likely claim to have experienced at one time or another.  I have a whole list of things that I have feared and have overcome and one of some that continue to plague me.  There is my fear of heights, of elevators that carry you up to the double digit floors, of making a fool of myself, of not having the right answer, of ticks…and I could go on.

But the REALLY big one?  Fear of failure.  The double ‘F’!!

Its side effects can be anything from stomach butterflies, sweaty palms, an elevated blood pressure and/or heart palpations.  Even worse?  It can stop me from trying something new, from making a move or a change.  It does its best to keep me in the present, also known as the status quo or comfort zone which is not necessarily where I want to be.

A couple of years ago, I attended an event at which Arlene Dickinson was the invited speaker. Arlene, is of course, one of the ‘dragons’ or venture capitalists, as they are also known, on Dragons’ Den - the successful CBC show.

Arlene was a very eloquent and yet, personable speaker. She came across as honest and appeared to speak from the heart. She talked about both her personal and  professional journeys. One topic, that truly struck a chord with me, was that of failure.

Certainly not a topic that was new to me and yet for some reason, that night, it landed differently.  I am not sure why.  Maybe it was a question of timing or maybe it was something else but the reason is not important. What is important, is that the message stuck.

And the message was simple - it is better to try and fail than live with regrets.

Regrets - I have a few and there is nothing that I can do about them now.  I can, however, make sure that I don’t add any more to the list.

How? Well, here are a few of the tips that I have found to be helpful in dealing with both fear and the fear of failure:

?    Quiet the voice within.  You know the one I mean. It gives you all the reasons why you shouldn't do something, often over and over again. It tells you that you are not equipped or lack experience.  Maybe you are not ready or better yet - you’re too old.
?    Acknowledge and get used to the fear.  It never goes away. You make room for it as I was reminded by a dear friend and coach.
?    Create the life you want. Take a big gulp and jump (metaphorically speaking of course)!  Love the line - ‘Fear, after all, is not just a part of life, it’s a sign of life’.  Taken from a chapter in Play Your Bigger Game by Rick Tamlyn.  
?    Talk about it.  To whoever will listen - your partner, friends, coach, mentor…
?    And lastly, the esteemed Dr Seuss sums it up pretty darn well.  ’How did it get so late so soon?  Its night before its afternoon.  December is here before its June.  My goodness how the time has flewn.  How did it get so late so soon?’  The time is now.

Need I go on?

Debbie Ristimaki believes in the power of being in the moment, enjoying the journey and embracing the lessons along the way. Debbie is a freelance writer and coach, currently living in Winnipeg. Her mantra: “We have but one life and live it we must.”