Be not afraid

92044533 I spent the day on Friday at the Maximum Impact Simulcast, listening to the likes of Tony Blair and John C. Maxwell talk about leadership and courage.  It’s inspiring.  It makes us want to be our best self.  Who doesn’t want to be seen as an amazing leader?

I think it’s natural after spending a day at that sort of an event, to look at your own life, to see if you can see a glimmer of that greatness.  As I let my mind wander over my own choices, I couldn’t help but notice that there’s a pattern to my life’s greatest and most fulfilling adventures.

I blundered into them.

Now I don’t mean to make myself sound less accomplished but the truth is, my life’s biggest adventures began with one common denominator – I had no idea what I was getting into.  No amazing courage.  No brilliant insights.  Just me, blindly stepping off the ledge, having absolutely no idea how far down the drop was.

The good news is that it meant I was also not afraid.  I probably should have been – but because I didn’t realize the enormity of what I was doing, I actually blindly strode into the new opportunities with incredible confidence and enthusiasm.

Perhaps that’s not such a bad plan.   Look at what it got me.

Becoming a dad:  Totally clueless.   Yes, I read a couple parenting books but they talk about how to diaper and feed, not the real parenting stuff.  I could not possibly have imagined that the arrival of this baby would literally re-write my entire life, my work schedule (I have left the office every day at 3 pm since she entered pre-school) and my life’s priorities.

No amount of worry could have prepared me for some of the conversations we’ve had, some of the split second decisions I’ve made or the depth of love that underscores my relationship with my daughter.

Opening my own agency:  I’d love to tell you that I had a well written business plan, a stash of cash to fall back on or several clients waiting in the wings.  But none of that is true.  And yet, it didn’t occur to me that it wouldn’t work.  I was 32, naïve and had an incredibly talented business partner (who has since gone on to different successes) who was as clueless as I was.

No amount of hand wringing could have prepared me for twists and turns of being a business owner, the excruciating decisions I’ve had to make, or the many relationships we’ve been lucky enough to earn and enjoy.

Had I been logical or even deeply thoughtful about either decision – I very well might have decided that the potential risks outweighed what I thought were the potential gains.  Man, would I have been wrong.

We’ve all heard the Redmoon quotation “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”

I wish I could tell you that I consciously decided that being a dad or owning my own agency was more important than the fear but I just didn’t feel any fear until it was too late – I’d already stepped off the ledge.  At that point, when the fear appeared, I had no choice but to push it aside and keep trudging forward.

Why am I telling you all of this?   Because I suspect that someone reading this right now is afraid and can’t pull the trigger on a dream.

What are you worrying about right now?  What is fear keeping you from trying or risking?  Are you letting the economy, a golden handcuff job, a pending retirement or something else keep you from stepping off the ledge? 

You’re probably smarter than I was….I blundered into my life’s best decisions wrapped in complete ignorance.  You know what the risks are.  You know all the pros and cons. 

But what you might not know is the remarkable rush that comes from just spreading your wings and taking the leap.  What you probably haven’t considered is that those wings and the winds of chance might take you to a place more dazzling and delightful than you could possibly imagine.

Ignorance for me.  Courage for you.  Maybe it doesn’t matter why you leap.  Just that you do.

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23 comments on “Be not afraid

  1. Dennis says:

    If it wasn’t for ignorance nothing would get done.

  2. Hey – I thought I was the only one who did that 🙂

    I think working on the best information and the knowledge I had at the time was my starting point. I didn’t know what I didn’t know – but I was willing to learn….and like you, Drew – that has taken me some wonderful places !

  3. One of my coworkers commented that he didn’t think my life is as happy as it should be. It’s far happier and infinitely more fulfilled than if I hadn’t stepped off that cliff. And others don’t understand that I keep giving beyond reason simply because I believe what I’m doing is more important than me.

  4. Drew,
    Very touching post. Insightful as well. I’m sure many will see themselves into these words of wisdom. Thank you for the eagle view over hills and landscapes quite difficult to imagine from ground level.

  5. Fantastic post Drew. Blundering is pretty much how I fell into this line of work I am currently in. I was fooling around with social media all throughout college. I had no idea that it was even remotely valuable (or that my skills there would be valued). So I set off into the working world, was given $0 for my PR budget and told to do something with nothing. So happy I chose to go down the SM route.

  6. Jann Freed says:

    Loved the post Drew. I am afraid, but getting closer to pulling the trigger, jumping off the cliff, and going after a dream. We were singing a hymn in church on Sunday that had the verse–let courage be our friend and let wisdom be our guide and I could not stop thinking–What am I afraid of? Just go for it. Too much thinking …

  7. Becky Clontz says:

    On my little blog I wrote a very similar story about this very topic a few months ago – I can honestly look back and realize that what looks like great personal success has had everything to do with luck and not knowing what to be afraid of. I wish you could package that and help people be successful, but a lot of it simply has to do with – dare I say it – ignorance is bliss. NOW, with that ignorance brings mistakes that you have to be insightful and diligent enough to work through and attempt to not make them again. That’s where the luck meets hard work comes in to play – so I’ve learned you really need both.

    Thanks Drew – another good one!

  8. scott howard says:

    I am very glad you jumped off the cliff, pulled the trigger and wrote this post.

    It’s time for me to do the same this summer.

  9. Barb says:

    I relate to your story, Drew. I had youth and arrogant confidence 32 years ago, when I started my graphic design business. The other thing I had was incredible motivation: I wanted to be home for my kids and contribute financially to our family. That motivation was all I needed to overcome the fear. It is my experience that people do whatever is needed when the motivation is strong enough. If someone out there is stalled by fear, maybe you just don’t want it badly enough. Plan or blunder, you won’t get anything standing still.

  10. Drew,

    Thanks for the nudge today. It was much needed. I particularly like the quote!


  11. JustinSMV says:

    Great inspiring post, thanks for the kick in the butt 🙂

  12. Tom Porter says:

    Great story Drew … it reminds me of this quote:

    “Come to the edge,” he said.
    “It’s too high,” they said.
    “Come to the edge,” he said.
    “We’ll fall,” they said.
    “Come to the edge,” he said.
    And they did.
    And he pushed them,
    And they flew.
    – Guillaume Appolinaire

  13. Teri Dean says:

    Thank you so much for this post. As others have said before me…not knowing enough to be afraid has opened doors that I never dreamed possible. Now I need to jump off the cliff and start my own business and not be fearful of the outcome.

  14. Ed Heil says:

    Years ago, when I was changing careers from a career I knew to one for which I had no plan a friend sent me a book. It came out of the blue and it’s called “The Dream Giver.” At the time I was nervous, apprehensive, yet filled with conviction that what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go was exactly where I was supposed to be. “The Dream Giver” helped me to see that and I see the same message reflected in your post.

    My agency is not old, just 4 years now, yet every few months or so I reach another, “jumping off” point. Always another risk, always another decision. What I appreciate most about this post is that it encourages me to keep taking chances and moving ahead. My mantra has always been “don’t look down.” Because when you look down you get scared. This is a wonderful reminder to keep looking up and trusting your gut.

  15. What a great post. This reminds me of myself getting my first job right out of college. I had the world by the tail. Several things have happened since then that have challenged that perception and I appreciate your kick in the butt.

  16. Dennis — you may well be right!

    Jackie — there is something to be said for the wonderful surprises that come from us trusting our gut.

    Jeane — sometimes we just have to do our own thing and let others and their opinions be damned.


  17. Luc,

    We’ve all stood at the edge of some cliff. I’m glad that this post struck a chord with people. I’m hoping it inspires a few to do something — either step away or step off.


  18. Stuart — Funny how things work out, isn’t it?

    Jann — too much thinking. I think we’ve all been guilty of that on more than one occasion.

    Becky — I think part of the problem is that some people don’t want others to know that their success is a result of a dash of dumb luck. But I figured you all had guessed that already! ;-}


  19. Scott — good luck this summer! Just remember to roll with it.

    Barb — I’ve often said to someone who finds themselves between a rock and a hard place — sometimes life gives you a boot in the butt to get you to do what you know you should have already done.

    Casey — Did you listen to the nudge?


  20. Justin — the question of course is…did the kick push you off the cliff?

    Tom — Amen! Thanks for sharing the poem.


  21. Teri,

    Good luck on your leap. I hope it takes you further than you could have ever imagined!


  22. Ed,

    I hate to break it to you, but you’ll be jumping off cliffs for a long time to come. I think it is part of owning a small business.

    There’s always something new or different. The trick of course, is knowing (or trusting that your gut knows) which cliffs to leap from and which ones to walk away from.


  23. Scott,

    I think that happens to all of us. We’re young and so naive…and so full of hope and dreams. Then, reality kicks our butts around for a bit and we lose the dream.

    Hopefully we can re-discover the dream. Yes, maybe a bit more jaded and afraid, but if the dream is compelling enough — we can still take the leap.


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