We made a major mistake as parents.
My wife and I let our oldest son become a picky eater. Blame it on inexperience, survival mode while Dani was on bed rest, or sheer laziness. Regardless, we’ve regularly had food wars in our house and slowly we’re working on expanding his palette. One night earlier this year, we had a two-hour battle over some chicken.
I try to tell my son that his mom is a lawyer and argues for a living. He still thinks he has a shot at winning. (He will learn eventually…I hope.)
Recently, we battled over his refusal to try mashed potatoes. (I know, children have no idea what they’re missing!) We finally got some mashed potatoes shoved in his mouth and got him to close his mouth, despite the tears.
As soon as he started chewing and tasting them, an instant transformation of expression happened. In three nanoseconds, he went from sobbing tears to excited laughter. From “No, Mamma!” to “Thank you Pappa! These are yummy!”
He downed a giant pile of mashed potatoes and even got a treat before bed.
I try not to be one of those writers (or pastors) who constantly mine their family and children for illustrations. But this experience sent me into a lot of reflection later that night. I realized I’m not that different from my son.
Think about it. How often do we do what my son did? We fight something because we believe it will be ________ (yucky, terrible, painful, wrong, etc.). Yet, when we actually engage it, we find the experience to be quite different than our expectations led us to believe.
Our fear stands in the way. Whether it is mashed potatoes, writing a book, applying for a job, taking some classes or asking that person out, fear robs us of incredible experiences because our imagination paints an inaccurate picture. We’re sobbing and fighting when we should be salivating and enjoying. Fear keeps us from experiencing what we long for most by deceiving and distracting us.
Fear leads us to imagine ourselves into a worst-case scenario. So we avoid “it” – the thing we simultaneously long for and fear. We run and hide from it. But when “it” finally comes, it is often entirely different than expected. It’s actually good – we love it!
Fear is what stands between you and your dreams. To achieve your goals, you’re going to have to face your fears. To grow, you’re going to have to face your fear of discomfort, the unknown and being out of control.
So, how do you overcome your fears?
1. Move toward your fears not away from them. Treat your fears as GPS directions to your goals. We often fear what we most need and our fears disguise our greatest opportunities.
2. Don’t wait for fear to go away; learn to do it afraid. Every person I know whose life inspires me (like Amber – the opera singer, Paul – the guru for Millenials, or Jim – the guy who woke up blind one day), they all have learned to dance with their fear. Fear is never going away completely and neither is the work we have to do.
3. Eliminate the inputs which amplify your fears. We can’t eliminate fear, but we can get rid of the things in our lives which make it grow. Bitterness, unresolved issues, isolation, insecurity, perfectionism – they’re all lighter fluid which create a burning “fear-inferno!” Choose to forgive, pursue counseling, open up to friends, find a mentor, and make mistakes.
4. Get close to courageous people. If you’re not courageous, then get close to people who are. We become like the people we admire and spend the most time around. The more I spend time around people whose quailities and character I admire, the more I find myself inspired and challenged. Courage spreads, so get close enough to catch it!
5. Do one thing you’re afraid of every day. When you break your big fears into bite-sized chunks, it’s amazing what you can accomplish in a few weeks or months. Commit to writing 250 words, walking 10,000 steps, learning a new skill or connecting with one person in your industry. Eat the elephant…one bite at a time!
Having never guest posted on a site where I didn’t have a long history with the owner, I set a goal to guest post 20 times in 2015 – all on sites of people I didn’t already know in person. In the first 8 months of 2015, I guest posted 22 times!
How did I do it? I wrote one post every week, sometimes two. I regularly sent out a guest post query or two each week. Sometimes, I heard nothing back or got rejected. Other times, I was accepted and ending up posting multiple times on a site.\
Each time I got ready to send a new post, fear got bigger and bigger the closer I got to clicking “send”. I cannot imagine what I would’ve missed out on this year if I had let my fear of rejection keep me from sending a new article.
Can you imagine what you’ll miss out on if you let fear hold you hostage?
Don’t let fear keep you from your biggest dreams and best opportunities.
Especially the opportunity to savor the creamy, buttery, mouth-wattering goodness of mashed potatoes.