By: Adam Ward, CaptainJacked.com Athlete
It has been said that facing fear can be the absolute defining factor in life’s successes. Succumbing to fear and anxiety will lead to dead-ends and less than positive outcomes; whereas, facing fear and “the unknown” can many times open the door to success. I would actually venture to say that doing things we are “afraid of” will almost always be a positive experience in the end.
In FDR’s famous 1933 inaugural address, he coined the phrase “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” This train of thought can be applied to every single aspect of life, and it can actually be extremely useful. Roosevelt went on to emphasize that “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.” He extrapolated on the idea that we as Americans must come together and follow the footsteps of the pioneers that came before us, trudging into the great unknown without fear. Sure, he was a good speaker, but he presents an assertion we can all benefit from. In today’s society, people are apprehensive about attempting anything new, or out of their realm of familiarity… whether it is approaching that attractive girl/guy, moving forward with a new business venture, or taking an unknown risk. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what would happen if we simply had no fears and approached every day “fearlessly”? I would surmise there would be many more millionaires in the world if this were the case.
If being fearless is the key to our destiny, then how do we live our lives this way? What do we need to change in terms of mindset so we can begin to realize the success we dream about? It seems the first step is getting used to being uncomfortable. Typically, nothing worth having or accomplishing will come easy. As with many things in my own personal realm, I can relate life to training in the gym, and likewise my years of lifting weights have taught me countless life lessons. Recently, I realized that even after dedicating more than half of my life to the pursuit of physical strength and fitness, there were some stones that have been long left unturned. After some thought, it became apparent to me that I was avoiding doing things that would further propel me forward because I was scared to do them…I was scared to fail. Contrary to my preconceived doubt, once that initial step was taken into the unknown, doors began to open…and they still are.
This brings me to another point, and undoubtedly a further step towards facing our fears – which is daring to fail. The idea that many times a person goes through countless failures before finally succeeding is a common theme. We tend to see a lot of commencement speeches delivered by well known individuals who tell young college graduates their rags to riches story, and how they never gave up, even in the face of multiple failures and rejections. These stories are perpetually inspiring, yes, but how do we apply these principles to our own lives? My Aunt once told me whenever she is about to try something new or daunting that she asks herself “what is the absolute worst thing that can happen?” More often than not, the worst thing that can happen is failure. If we accept this possible outcome, then we’ve made a step that many people are simply not willing to make. It seems like many people view failing as unacceptable…but why? How then, do we learn? Going back to my own point of reference; training as a powerlifter has many times forced me to face fear head on even when I was not feeling brave.
The most daunting lift for me is the squat – you are fully supporting a crushing amount of weight on your back (if you are attempting maximal poundage) and if you make a mistake, it could mean devastating injury to you and your spotters. It happens all the time. On heavy squat days, usually in preparation for competition, I many times will wake up that morning with a queasy knotted stomach in anticipation of what I am going to attempt. The day at work will creep by, and my lack of focus will likely be very apparent to those around me. Maybe some lifters will give you their macho facade, and say they aren’t scared…but you need to respect the weight and sometimes that “fight or flight” response is very necessary. Once I begin to warm up, and get the weight on my back, the fear fades until I reach my final and heaviest set. The moment I have been anxiously awaiting has come, and I keep telling myself that “nobody is making you do this; you could easily go home right now and enjoy a relaxing night on the couch.” Fighting those doubtful thoughts, the attempt is made, usually in a blur. Sure, there have been plenty of times when the lift was unsuccessful…but there is nothing like the feeling of satisfaction knowing that I faced fear head-on – especially when the lift is successful and a new personal record is set. And hey, so what if I failed – I will most definitely try again.
These types of experiences have been unequivocally vital in my life. What if I had been too scared to approach the woman who is now my amazing wife? What if my apprehension had caused me not to seek out a better job so I could live the life that I dreamt for myself and my family? You must find something that scares you and face it head on. Lunge towards it and don’t hesitate, because if it scares you, it’s probably something that will unlock a new door in your life – maybe the biggest one. Life is too short to be paralyzed by anxiety and doubt! Get used to being uncomfortable, and dare to fail. Do it – you’ll never regret it.