Because it scares the shit out of me

In June 2016 I had the good fortune to be at a retreat centre in California, perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Pacific. Early one morning I dragged myself out of bed to “Morning Dance Awake”. After spending an hour in that yurt, I can confirm that it was unlike any dance thing (or any other thing) I’ve ever been to. It was a richly human, deeply embodied wake up that was all at once, beautiful, spiritual, connecting and so much fun. Our DJ and guide, JJ,  spun a magical weave of playfulness and soulfulness, encouraging honest connection and inter-human exploration.

As we all gathered back into a circle, JJ pondered out loud ‘Why do I do this?’. ‘Because’, he answered, ‘it scares the shit out of me.’

After the sweet class, as all of us sweaty and smiling beings floated off to breakfast, and my attention drifted to where in my life I have done things because ‘it scares the shit out of me’.  At first I was hard on myself, feeling like I don’t take ‘enough’ risks, or push myself or challenge myself. And then I slowed down and wrote down some things that did in fact scare the shit out of me. It was empowering to consider these risks and to appreciate the ways in which they helped me to stretch and grow.

So, here are a few of my ‘scary’ things:

  • Applied to an outdoor ed program in high school. The interview scared me to pieces because I was insanely shy and the three macho dudes doing the interviewing were clearly toying with me like cats playing with a mouse. But something inside me stood up that day, and I stood up to them, surprising both them and me. (I got in, and it changed my life.)
  • A few years ago, decided that my unfinished BA shouldn’t stop me from applying to a Masters program. Defended my thesis in 2013. Presented papers at conferences. (Remember the shy girl mentioned above?!)
  • Signed up for coach training – I had NO idea what the heck I was in for.
  • Took voice classes – again, had NO idea what I was in for.
  • Ran my first corporate workshop. They had no idea what they were in for!

Know what happens if you don’t take a risk? Nothing!” –Angus, from the film Starstruck

(I saw this Australian film when I was 16 and that line has always stayed with me, but you have to say risk as ‘reesk’!)

Working with clients to find the ‘scares the shit out of me’ things they feel pulled to do, and championing and supporting them as they move into them is one of the most satisfying part of coaching. What is it you’re scared of AND yet yearning to do? What would be the first step? And then the next step, and then the next step in getting there?

2 thoughts on “Because it scares the shit out of me”

  1. This post just gave me goosebumps, because it took me back to different times I’ve taken scary risks – it’s so invigorating afterward! (Why is it so easy to forget that bit, when the next scary hurdle comes up?). And all those risks are what gave me the best experiences in my life, and the accomplishments I’m most proud of. And even if they didn’t pay off – I don’t regret them.
    I needed to read this today, as I try and talk myself up to put myself out there again … thank you!!

  2. Thanks Tina! It seems to me that often when something presents as ‘scary’ to us, it’s because there’s a lot there for us – whether it’s personal or professional growth… Yes, those risks are so worth taking! And your comment brought to mind this great quote from Alberto Giamoetti: “Failure is the only way of getting at least somewhere near the truth.” I love the questing, persistence and resilience in those words! xo

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