If you ask people who know me today for some words that describe me, you’ll hear words like “bold” and “courageous” and “outspoken.” If you had asked people who knew me ten years ago for some words that described me, you would have heard words like “timid” and “meek” and “shy.” Obviously, I’m not at all the same person I was ten years ago. Several drastic and dramatic life events made much of the change within me. But my transformation wasn’t complete until a dear friend and admired mentor gave me a very direct order one day.
This friend is a powerhouse in the mission to help abused men, women and children. She is tenacious and outgoing; qualities I admired but had eluded me. I was honored when she asked me to serve on the Board of Directors for her organization. When I accepted her invitation, she instructed me to send her a “bio.” Her exact words were “Send me your bio and be sure it says how awesome you are.” What?!
Now I don’t know about you, but I was raised to be humble and to never dare say, let alone put in writing, that I’m awesome. I told her “I can’t do that.” When she asked me why I couldn’t do it, I was honest and said, “Because I’m afraid.” My friend very bluntly and without hesitation said, “Do it afraid.” I was going to protest more but all I could get out of my mouth was “But…but…” before she said it again. “Do it afraid.”
Have you ever known someone who doesn’t take “no” for an answer? So, you know her too! I knew the bio was not optional and I knew I wasn’t going to change her mind about me writing it myself so I “did it afraid.” What was I so afraid of anyway? Nothing bad was going to happen to me if I wrote my own bio. No one would have even known I wrote it myself. I was simply afraid to “brag” on myself. If you were raised like I was, you understand.
After I finished writing it, I felt relieved. But I felt more than just relieved. I felt empowered! Since that day I’ve written many more of my own bio’s and have done many more things “afraid.” When I’m especially afraid to do something I often ask myself “What is the worst thing that can happen if I do this?” and then I ask myself “What is the worst thing that can happen if I don’t do this?” I have found that when I ask myself those questions, it becomes clear whether or not I should “Do it afraid.”
What do you want to do, but fear is holding you back from doing it? It can be anything! Maybe it’s something seemingly small like learning a new hobby and you’re afraid you won’t do it well. Maybe you dream of learning to play a sport and you’re afraid it will be revealed that the only sport you’re athletically suited for is a rousing game of checkers. Maybe you want to make new friends but you’re afraid of rejection. Maybe you want to advocate about a controversial issue and are afraid to be criticized. Maybe you just want to speak your mind but you’re afraid of people getting “mad” at you – I understand that because I lived that way for most of my life! No one should judge your fears, not even you.
I can’t promise you that everything you “do afraid” will turn out fabulously. But I can tell you this, I’ve never regretted anything I’ve done afraid and I never have reason to think to myself anymore, “If I was just brave enough to try that.” Since I’ve started doing things afraid, I have become more confident, courageous and authentic. Hey, I just wrote those things about myself with ease!
The next time you want to try something new or do something differently and you feel afraid ask yourself “What is the worst thing that can happen if I do this?” and then ask yourself “What is the worst thing that can happen if I don’t do this?” and then you’ll have your answer as to whether or not you should “Do it afraid.” When you start doing things afraid, you’ll be embarking on many new adventures and endeavors that will lead you down a path of feeling more confident and happy and having less regrets.