And being a rather unlofty 1.56m tall I totally agree…..unless we’re talking about life. I believe the size of the life you’re living does matter, and not understanding the origin of your fear can keep it small.
One size does not fit all
When I am talking about the size of your life, I’m not for one moment talking about the size of your bank balance, your house, your career, your social media following etc. They are mere “things” that can go as quickly as they arrive (and sometimes quicker).
What I’m talking about is how you are living your life. Are you fully living your life’s potential? Not your friend’s, your partner’s, your parents’ or your colleague’s potential. Yours. Your life. The one precious life that is sparkling away inside of you? The one that only fits you.
In her book “Playing Big” Tara Mohr talks about the two words for fear used in the Hebrew Bible – pachad and yir’ah. Pachad is the fear of what could happen. It’s the feeling terror or dread about an imagined outcome. Yi’rah is the fear we feel when we inhabit a larger space than we are used to, feel more energy than we had before or are in overwhelmed by awe. It’s the fear of standing on the brink of being more than we thought we could be.
I also think there’s a third type of fear which comes from intuition. The type that crops up when something looks like it’s a good thing, or the answer to your prayers but you know deep down there’ll be a high price to pay.
Not all fears are equal.
The MOST important question to ask when you’re afraid…
Is “Will giving into this fear make my life bigger or smaller?”. For example, last year I was telling a fellow entrepreneur I was planning on running workshops to introduce people to Life Coaching, and raise awareness of my business. Earlier in our conversation, I had mentioned that I’m an introvert and am terrified of public speaking. So they asked the logical question “Why on earth would you think of running workshops when you know it’s not your natural way of communicating?”.
Sensible right? It’s a good idea in life to understand your strengths and weaknesses and act in a way that will make you shine and give you energy, rather than one that will create unnecessary struggle or stress.
And yet giving into my fear of public speaking would mean I would miss out on the experience of doing something I wouldn’t normally do. I also wouldn’t be able to reach as many people. I wouldn’t have to develop new skills creating a workshop from scratch. I wouldn’t find out that I could, in fact, run a workshop. I would miss out on the sense of achievement getting through it would bring. I would not be fully living my life’s potential. The fear I felt was yi’rah. My life would not be bigger if I gave into my fear.
On the other hand, I once applied for a job at a company I knew didn’t exhibit ways of working I felt were important. It was, however, walking distance from my home, and at the time I was struggling with balancing a long commute with trying to get my son to swimming club four times a week. I chose the shorter commute and as I feared my working life became “smaller”. There was less autonomy, less collaboration, less trust, less optimism. My fear/intuition had been right.
It’s not a matter of feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
It’s about understanding where your fear is coming from and using that knowledge to choose the thing that makes your life bigger rather than smaller.
For example, that promotion you’ve been offered may enable you to go to new places, learn new skills, be part of creating something you truly believe in. Or, it might mean working long hours, hitting more and more targets and attending endless business meetings in order to see and be seen.
Get to know your fears. Recognise the ones that signal you are about to become who you are capable of being and use them to motivate you to do what’s possible.
Live your full life’s potential, it’s the only one you’ve got.