I was reading a story on LinkedIn Pulse the other day and it inspired me to write this post. One of the founders of Angie’s List had quite the dilemma when he finished school. Stay close to family and look for a job or move far away to Columbus, Ohio where he was offered a one-year gig with a little known start-up with little pay. After all, it was a job, but the uncertainty and fear paralysed him until his father said, “What if you weren’t afraid?”
After that, his thought process completely changed and he moved to Columbus to help start Angie’s List, which has been in business for 18 years (The company is currently under scrutiny after never turning a profit in those 18 years, but I digress).
What if you weren’t afraid?
I’m a HUGE fan of Johnny Cash and Eminem. A bit odd seeing them side by side on paper, but they both were/are fearless. That wasn’t always the case (and probably still isn’t), but they both managed to plough through fear and continue to do so.
In Eminem’s case – he wanted to be a rapper. As a white boy growing up in one of the toughest areas of Detroit trying to get involved in a scene predominately dominated by a different race, most thought he was crazy. He was ridiculed relentlessly, but he didn’t stop. Can you imagine the paralysing fear he must have faced day in and day out?
To this day – he still battles fear as all of us do. Most recently he released a song apologizing to his mother.
This after a couple decades of slamming her in his music and in the public. He also has pledged to never perform “Cleaning Out My Closest” in concert. A song in which he tears his mother and father a new one.
Eminem has grown not only as an artist, but as a person. He’s ready to admit his mistakes to the world. He’s also more than willing to let you in to his life; the good and the bad. Can you imagine releasing your diary to the world to the scale Eminem has? Think about it. Does it scare the shit out of you? Hell, my palms are sweating just thinking about it. But, what if you weren’t afraid?
Johnny Cash always wanted to be a singer, but he was conflicted because his father never had faith in him to pursue such a career. For ages, Johnny wanted to please his father.
After high school, instead of hitting the road as a musician he decided to join the Air Force, in hopes of pleasing his dad. In this time away from home, his passion for music grew even more. He’d play with the guys overseas and come back home hoping his father would be proud of him not only for his service to the country, but for his music as well.
Again, his father gave him nothing. Johnny was afraid his father would never respect him. However, Johnny kept moving forward and continued to dabble in music until he finally drew up the courage to pop in to Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee (where he lived at the time) hoping to get a recording contract. He failed on multiple occasions, until he won over the producer with a couple rock’a’billy tunes “Hey Porter” and “Cry! Cry! Cry!” As we now know, this was only the beginning.
What if Johnny was crippled by his father’s criticism? What if Johnny never left his home in Arkansas to try and break into the music scene in Memphis? What if he never walked into Sun Records? What if Johnny left fear get the best of him?
You will be afraid
In life and in business, you WILL be afraid. There is no doubt. Whether it’s starting up your own businesses or deciding to switch job titles within your current company. There will always be an element of fear.
Ask yourself – what if you weren’t afraid? What would you do? How would you see the challenge in front of you?
By flipping fear on it’s head, you begin to see a new path. A path to innovation and change. Try it right now. Think of a challenge you are currently faced with. Now, what would you do if you weren’t afraid?
If you’re interested in discussion your fears – email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.
Or maybe you’re too afraid to let me know your fears…