Happy end of July everyone. Here is a bit of enzyme for thought this week for you all, wherever you are in the world.
One thing about becoming about a life coach or any sort of “sharing from experiences” profession is the responsibility to do a lot of those rigorous inner work ourselves. The most well-known impostor syndrome is often manifested in the self-doubting thought “Who am I to teach?”
It brought me to this great long reflection of the same name by Tad Hargrave. I was touched to see someone with 20 more years of experiences in still wrestles with this question that shuns the simple cheesy answer “Just believe in yourself”. It also brings up a lot of Fear, which is what I want to delve into for this week’s digest.
Sharing is sprouting.
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Dancing with Fear [excerpt]
(parodied: Eminem is really afraid)
I’ve been meditating on Fear and the way it is often talked about. Our relationship to Fear reveals a lot about who we are. The most common one which I’ve written about before is Fear as a negative emotion to be overcome.
I often found this language to be inadequate for something so primal and essential of being human. Everyone is afraid, but it is what we choose to do with our fear that makes the difference.
I emphasize with because some people I’ve met, particularly entrepreneurs whose mantras include “Failure is not an option” or “Fear is the Enemy” seem to act despite of it. A few even exude a kind of fearlessness that turns me away. Without admitting Fear, they don’t seem human enough for me to relate, let alone trust. Moreover, I don’t see engaging in a attritional, win-or-lose battle with Fear is something helpful.
While we surely don’t want to lose to it, we don’t just want to completely eliminate it either. We want to keep playing with a worthy opponent.
Upon closer inquiry, I notice something deeper and more important about the role fear plays beyond “this vague feeling of hesitation and weakness to be overcome”. Fear can be our guide, or better yet, a dance partner.
Seeing it this way can change our question altogether. For me, it becomes “How can I keep dancing with my own mess and the messes of other people? How can I welcome everything — the good, the bad, the scary — as part of that dance?”
Here is a glimpse of this inner dance that I want to share with you.
When the excitement of a fresh start blends with the fear of a genuine possibility that it may not work, we become alive. Attuning more to Fear’s ever changing rhythms, we keep on dancing with its different faces, slightly bolder, more caring and generous each time.
It reminds me of what Seth Godin eloquently says in a podcast interview about the real work leaders must do.
“The hard work is not some line of Python code. It’s the endless slog of peeling the onion and realizing that there is nothing to hold on to. The deeper I get into it, the more thrilling it is to help people see that it’s the hard part” — Seth Godin
Indeed, as we accept and commit to our ever-renewing fear as a partner
in the dance of life, something strange starts to happen. We rejoice when fear arrives as we recognize that it means we are on the right track. “Wow, I’m afraid, so this must be real”. We start to feel like something is missing when it doesn’t show up.
As we become paradoxically grounded in this shape-shifting fear, we experience a something rather curious .
“where [the students] begin to take their grounding less preciously. Where they become strong enough in their own self to know when to stand firm, when to bend and when to blow away like a tumbleweed. They begin to ground not only in themselves, but in fear.” — Martin Keogh, renowned Contact Improv dance teacher.