I have a confession to make. Every time I do something people see as “brave” I am scared out of my mind. There’s no other way to put it. When I talk to strangers I am afraid I will offend them somehow or that I am being boring or obnoxious. When I go walking with my dog I am scared of robbers and rabid beasts. When I offer my opinion on something I am terrified of being told I am an idiot. When I try something new I am terrified of failure.

So why do these things?

Well, if I don’t talk to strangers I will never get anything done or meet anyone new. If I don’t walk my dog he will tear up the house. If I don’t offer my opinion I leave thinking my idea might have been better. If I don’t try anything new I become bored. But I think I do these things mostly because I refuse to let fear rule my life. There is a difference between being brave and being foolish. I am not wrestling alligators, or jumping over Niagara falls. Although if that is your thing, great, go for it! But if I allowed fear to hold me back from living my life to the fullest I would never become the person I hope to become.

All it takes is 5 seconds of insane courage to do something brave. 5 crazy seconds, maybe not even that. Just to start and become committed to what happens, the hardest thing I have found is the first step. The first moment. Because you have to conquer your mind and fear to start something brave. Once you start it you’ve got momentum, something to build on, and the more momentum you have the easier it gets.

So instead of thinking of every “What if” worst case scenario, imagine a “What if it works” situation. What if you get that raise, or get his number, or learn to cook, or lose those pounds? When you start to succeed at things despite your fear it is exhilarating and satisfying.You end up wanting to build on it. You can tell yourself that you can do the impossible things because you did one last week and succeeded. Even your failures seem less devastating because you know that the ability to succeed is there, it just takes another try.

So that thing that scares you? You know the one, stop thinking about all the negative outcomes, wrangle the 5 seconds of crazy, unthinkable courage that you need, and take a step into the great unknown.  Try something new, make a difference in your own life. Who knows, you might find you like it.

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