Summer has finally made it to the West Coast and with it comes all the pleasures of the beach. Where I live, there’s a pier where kids jump off into the water. The railings are high so if you are afraid of heights, that’s the first challenge. Then there’s the standing on the top of the railing and looking into the water – very scary. And you just know the water is freezing. Then you have the thought that you will look silly as you jump in. And even though you watch other people jump and disappear beneath the surface, there’s always the fear that you won’t come up for air. The force of the water is enough to pull your bathing suit off, so you have to be careful about exposure in more ways than one. But the sense of triumph you have after you jump is incredible.
On Sunday, I was out at the pier and a young boy was being urged by his friends to jump. He was hanging onto the rails of the pier for dear life. His friends were all telling him to do it. He was saying it was going to be cold and wet. Very true. He certainly knew what he was getting into to.
His friends were encouraging him – they kept on saying “Don’t think about it. Just jump.” Still he clung to the rail, hesitating. Sometimes our thoughts become bigger than our courage and can certainly immobilize us and keep us from what we want.
In my coaching practice, I see people who are overcome with self doubt, who have difficulty seeing a larger vision or allowing fear to run their lives. Like the young boy at the pier, his negative thoughts became larger than the task at hand – jump in the water.
Here are a couple of ideas to help you overcome fear and relish the joy of the triumph.
- Research your object of fear. If you are starting a new venture, find people who have blazed that trail before you. For instance at the pier, I asked the kids who were jumping what gave them courage. They gave me tips – ensure that the tide was at its highest and the day was so hot the cold water was too inviting. You may want to break it down a bit. Rather than jumping from the highest, scariest railing, you might want to start from the platform and work your way up. When I was there on Sunday, a young man was climbing up an even higher ladder to jump in…not quite sure I’m ready for that. Yet.
- Set a time deadline. I knew it was just time to jump off the pier by the end of the summer. There are plenty of reasons not to do something you fear. You don’t have the time or the energy or you’re just too busy. It’s amazing to me that when I set a deadline, I do whatever I fear. Maybe it’s years of being a journalist but deadlines motivate me. What motivates you?
- Don’t over think it. Just do it. Nike was right. Sometimes, the more we think about something, the more likely we are to talk ourselves out of it. How many times have you been inspired to do something and make all kinds of excuses for not doing it? If you are wavering, remember the time you did go for what you wanted and how great you felt.