The acronym – “Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise.”
The quote – “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
The aspiration – “Leap and the net will appear.”
The message is clear: GO FOR IT!
It sounds simple.
It sounds brave.
It sounds daring.
And it scares the tuna salad out of me.
I find the idea of fearlessness to be mildly terrifying. Our brains are wired for fear, to expect the worst. Earlier in our evolution, this system kept us alive. Imagine a caveman standing in the woods, in the path of a charging, snarling, ferocious wolf bearing down upon him – a lack of fear would have left him blissfully unaware of his oncoming demise, an easy target for a hungry predator.
These days, most of us don’t face a crisis of such proportion, although at times life may indeed feel that way. That type of fear is not what I’m really referencing here. I’m talking more about the insidious, sneaky fear that comes in like a thief in the night. I’m talking about the kind of anxious, persistent fear that whispers constantly rather than throwing periodic tantrums to get your attention. The constant second guessing, relentless self-doubt, and the ever-present Voice who never forgets to say, “I told you so.”
We are inundated with the message we must be fearless to move forward, to pursue our endeavors and truly succeed. We are encouraged, “Go big or go home!” We are told, “Winners make it happen!” We hear, “We can do hard things!” These phrases come to be the unspoken expectation: we must always be striving, constantly grinding, relentlessly pushing ourselves or we’ll miss the mark.
Repeatedly missing the mark, whatever that is for you, feeds the self-doubt even more, and the internal questioning intensifies – “Who am I to think I can do this? What right do I have to pursue this? How can I possibly believe that I have any idea what I’m doing?” The endless circular monologue is exhausting, and the fear creeps in more and more, until before you know it you’re drowning.
Here’s the thing: I don’t believe in fearless. Being fearless seems like an unattainable goal to me. It feels like a sure way to feed the internal spin cycle of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If all your goals are unattainable, or even feel unattainable, then you’re setting yourself up for failure.
What if instead you choose to be courageous? What would it look like, feel like, to be scared and to move forward anyway? When you can take even one step forward in the face of fear, you’re already winning. When you can put down the burden, wipe your tears and your brow, take a deep breath, and move ahead, you’re already winning. When you can succumb to fatigue and then rise again to keep on keeping on, you’re already winning.
So how does this work, this idea of courage rather than fearlessness? Author Christina Rasmussen calls it a “5% plug-in.” The idea is that if you can move forward even 5%, there is progress. A commitment of 5% effort is as simple as putting a toe in the water. There is minimal threat from such a small venture; if it feels like too much, you can always pull back. Except 5% is really so safe that you don’t need to pull back. Just knowing you have that option is what makes a 5% step such a safe act.
Whatever the goal, however distant it feels, it is always possible to break that monumental pursuit into manageable tasks, 5% tasks, which can be completed in a reasonable time and with available effort.
It’s easy to stay on the sidelines, waiting for the right moment to take your first courageous step. Spoiler alert: there is no right moment. There is only NOW.
Joy Warrior, the time has come. Start where you are. Reach out to one person and ask for support. After all, it’s only 5% - what do you have to fear?