Afraid of failing? How to get back on your horse
On my trip to Los Angeles this past weekend, I was chatting with a recently divorced woman (let’s call her Jacquie, a friend of a friend) on the Santa Monica pier while hundreds of kids ran around hopped up on cotton candy and spinny rides.
Being the inquisitive gal that I am, i.e. nosey, I asked if she was thinking about dating again since the divorce. I’m a sucker for a good love story and truly believe we get more than one shot at love.
I could feel both her reservation and fear about the prospect of “getting back out there”. She wasn’t sure how she could meet people or if she wanted to go through it all. (I assume IT meant getting involved, opening up your heart, being vulnerable… you know, the gooshy stuff.)
While chatting, we watched a young boy scale the nearby rock-climbing wall. Rather than immediately repelling down once he hit the buzzer that signified his success, the boy froze, not moving a single muscle.
His audible cry signified his confusion and fear. He was too afraid to let go of the holds and allow the cable to lower him down. So instead, he clung to the wall for dear life.
As the boy’s hysterics increased, the man running the station quickly strapped on his harness, climbed up, grabbed the boy and repelled down with him in his arms.
“Oye,” we said to each other. “Poor kid. Like he is ever going to want to do THAT again!”
We laughed and I shared the story of when I was 10 years old and learned how to do back flips off the local pool’s diving board.
I got really good and loved the thrill until one day, when I came up from the water after a dive and my coach (who was really just the cute 15 year old lifeguard) had a look of horror on his face.
He asked if I was ok, was I hurt?!
“I’m fine,” I had no idea what he was worried about.
He said I was less than one-inch from smacking my head on the board. He couldn’t believe I wasn’t hurt. What a relief!
Yeah, what I relief I agreed, laughing it off while secretly vowing NEVER TO DO THAT AGAIN. The idea of possibly Greg Louganis’ing it (see Seoul Olympics, 1988) was out of the question. No more diving for me.
It was a vow I stuck to.
Jacquie shared her story of being 8 years old and her eyes burning so badly from the salt water in the ocean, that she has never swam under water in the ocean again. The thought of that awful sting was too much to bear.
She said, it’s such a shame that fear would hold us back from doing something we really enjoyed as kids.
“Hey, sister, I hope YOU are picking up what YOU are puttin’ down,” I thought to myself. Remember, she was a friend of a friend so I was keeping my lips zipped, but she walked right into a great lesson for herself and me.
Even as adults, how often do we say NO WAY, NO THANK YOU, I will NEVER DO THAT AGAIN because we once got hurt or burned.
How many times have you tried to lose weight, but gained it back and therefore, decided weight loss is not possible for you.
How often have you said, Ooooh, I got my heart broken, I am swearing off love.
Or how many career dreams have you buried because someone said no, didn’t give you the job you wanted or worse, fired you for reasons you didn’t know.
The fear of the failure, the unknown or getting hurt can grip you tighter than a boa constrictor. Sadly, it also holds you back from some of life’s great adventures and possibilities.
If there is an action you are avoiding taking because you don’t want to get hurt, rejected or left out, I invite you to take a good look at it.
First, ask yourself what are the negative consequences I receive from NOT taking this action?
Then ask yourself what is the worst thing that could happen if I take that action?
More often then not, the worst scenario is that someone says no, or you are embarrassed, or you have to try another route to getting what you want.
These are all things you can, without a doubt, handle.
Just as I was telling Jacquie I wish I could go back and tell my 10 year old self to get back on the board, the young boy came back around to the climbing wall.
This time, with his Dad. They both locked themselves into the harness and together, climbed to the top. When at the top, they each smacked the buzzer of success and slowly repelled back down.
Can you guess who got to the ground first? The boy, of course.
Don’t be afraid to get back on the horse and ride it off into the sunset. Or at least to the next corral.
Leave a comment below and tell me one small, specific action you have been afraid to take, but are now willing to try. Tell me how long you think it will take you to complete it and when you plan to do it. Accountability and specificity is everything when it comes to having what you want.
P.S. And in honor of conquering your fears, Natalia Petrzela and I are holding our first Love Your Body Move Your Body event since Nati had her baby, Lucy, 8 weeks ago: