When I was about 7 years old my dad took my brother and I on a good, old-fashioned road trip to Williamsburg, VA. We didn't go on vacation often (ok, ever), so this was a real treat for us - especially when we got there and discovered our hotel had a water slide! Now, it was not an extravagant water slide by any stretch of the imagination (it was only about 12 feet tall, no twists and turns, no water falls to survive as you went down), but to us Cleveland kids who rarely saw one, it was like a mirage. My brother spent the entire weekend going down the slide, laughing with delight and yelling, "Sarah, you've got to try this!", and I spent the weekend wanting to go down, but terrified to climb the ladder, let alone go down the actual slide.
Over the past few weeks I've really paid attention to the kinds of conversations I've been having, and fear has been top of mind for many of my clients, colleagues, and friends. Truth is, fear is oftentimes our biggest motivator, our deciding factor, and our reason for staying comfortable.
I recently saw a Facebook post from Will Smith (who has a great and positive social media presence by the way) about skydiving for the first time. Will says that, while terrified, "you realize it's the most blissful experience of your life". And that "God placed the best things in life on the other side of fear".
When you go to school to be a professional coach, you're taught a motto of "feel the fear and do it anyway". As the kid scared to go down the water slide, that seemed very much easier said than done. The what-ifs start playing in your head: What if I fail? What if I get hurt? What if I'm uncomfortable? The key is to think about those things because while they may actually happen, you realize you've probably inflated your worst case scenario. But you also need to think about the amazingness that may, and likely will, come from feeling the fear and doing it anyway: What if I'm successful? What if I feel a great sense of freedom and happiness? What if it ends up leading to everything I've ever wanted?
So what happened to 7 year-old Sarah who didn't want to go down the water slide? She waited until the last possible moment - the morning we were checking out of the hotel - and finally mustered the courage to climb the ladder and go down the water slide. She loved every moment on the other side of that fear, and her dad had to drag her out of the pool so they could head back to Cleveland. What's your water slide?