The Courage to Act

The Courage to Act

As creative people, we all feel the insatiable urge to make. We all know those moments when the muse strikes and we plunge into that exquisite, manic place of frenzied production.

Less pleasant is the place of fear we also all know. The place where the time has come in which we *must* create, perhaps the place in which we decide to take our creativity forward into the world and ask for money in return, and fear grips us: the fear of failure. The fear of exposure as some kind of fraud. The fear that paralyses. The fear of being seen. When fear grips you, how do you move forward?

Despite appearances, I’m no stranger to that feeling. I’m feeling it right now. I’ve placed myself in a passionate group of entrepreneurs who are changing the world, and I am begin challenged to move forward into places I’ve never been. Places where I might have to let go of whom I have been in order to beome someone I imagine I could be. And it scares the hell out of me.

How am I moving forward?

Firstly, acknowledging it. Everyone feels this. Everyone knows the grip of fear. It’s in us all. It makes us human.

Secondly, I’m not doing it wrong if I’m scared; fear is, in fact, a good sign that the edge of my comfort zone is right in front of me, that place of danger and excitement where I am guaranteed to grow, whatever the outcome, because I tried. Fear is the signpost that tells us that a leap forward is coming.

Thirdly, fear is the precursor to courage. Have you ever thought of that? If you’re not scared, you don’t need to be courageous. Courage is not the absence of fear; it’s going to that place, to the edge of your limitations, feeling fear, and knowing that soon you will step forward anyway. Until you feel fear, it’s hard to know courage.

Fourthly, taking the focus off myself. My next act in my work is to make the commitment to be visible more often, to commit to producing some kind of creative content weekly, and I have to shift the focus from fear of how I might screw up to the benefit this can have to the people who read, listen or watch me. If my focus is on who might be uplifted, the fear of being judged shifts to the willingness to help – because who wouldn’t help someone in need if they had the opportunity?

Lastly, being an example. Whoever you are, there are people who are influenced by you. There are people – maybe young people in your life, maybe people who look up to you – who are waiting for your permission to act. Even if it’s hard. Even if it’s scary. Their progress will be made possible because of your own. That’s an awe-inspiring responsibility, and one that lifts me out of fear. I am so much more than my own insecurities when I remember how intricately connected I am to the world around me.

And before I know it, with acknowledgement, acceptance, excitement, and connection to my world, I can act out of love. And suddenly I can’t wait to move forward and write that blog post anyway.

What’s scaring you right now? What are you doing to make progress anyway?

9 Comments

  1. Thank you for this post, Cathy. It’s so timely for me as I push myself out of my comfort zone, out of comfortable complacency and into something new that’s full of possibilities, but is also a bit terrifying! I think I’ve finally learned that there will never be a time to do the big scary thing that feels “just right”, because risk is part of doing something different.

    My best wishes to you in your own newness!

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    • Thank you Mina! That’s right – the successful creative person is the one who stops waiting for the fear to go away and acts anyway, in spite of it. Good luck to you in your new venture!

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  2. Oh fear my constant companion, don’t I know you well ;). I really do feel I am making strides with my company but at the same time it still scares me if I think about it too much. So at the moment I just try and take it one step at the time doing a little towards my goals each day. And I can see it working already. In google search results in likes in the first costumers. Slowly but surely without letting it overwhelm you seems to be the key. Oh yeah and momentum helps!

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    • I agree Joni, baby steps every day, momentum as they build on each other, and a peer group to support you – that’s all you need! I’m so proud of all you’ve achieved this year!

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  3. Thank you – there are times when we need to be reminded that the only thing holding us back is us. I have, many times, managed to convince myself that my decision to ‘do nothing’ was the best thing! However, with hindsight (wonderful thing!) I have reached a point where I can see, that the fear I was feeling was created by myself, and worse – I was feeding it, by not at least trying. I will be moving forward from now on, and as long as I give it my very best effort – if it doesn’t work out – it wasn’t supposed to !
    I hope your new venture works out well and I wish all the other people, who may be on the edge of trying something new the very best of luck.

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    • That’s a very insightful realisation, Jean, I think we’ve all done that! And yes, keep moving forward, and don’t think that there’s ever a truly negative outcome – you will ALWAYS learn something if you simply try. Thank you for sharing!

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  4. As a dear friend used to say..”Run toward the roaring”. The story goes that the pride of lions, when hunting, will place the older cats on one side of a herd of dinner, and the younger on the other–once all are in place, the older lions will begin to roar, as fiercely and loudly as possible. The herd animals, startled and afraid, will run away from what they fear most…right into the jaws of the waiting predators. I see growth as learning to run towards fear–because it’s the clearest signal that I’m doing something to challenge the status quo, to force myself to examine the fears holding me back, and to recognize that the *real* danger lies in the running away, rather than the confronting.

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    • I love it Jonna, I’m going to remember that! Thank you for sharing!

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    • That’s a wonderful story, Jonna! I love it!

      Reply

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