For a long time, I thought there was something wrong with me. I kept hearing that great leaders are fearless. It was held up as a gold standard. But I wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t know how to just magically release my fears about so many things. Then a wise person told me fearlessness might not be the goal. Taking steps aligned with who I am even though I feel afraid is courageous. And suddenly it clicked. I want to be courageous, not fearless.
A quote that has guided me
There are so many quotes that speak to me. Loudly. But one of my favorites is this.
“Courage is not the towering oak that sees storms come and go. It is the fragile blossom that opens in the snow.” –Alice Mackenzie Swaim
Courage is about taking risks, and those are often accompanied by some level of fear. And that’s okay. What better example of this is there than love?
I ran away from coming out for a long time. Like, years. It didn’t meet everyone else’s expectations. When I finally reached the point where I couldn’t carry on as I had been, there was enormous, crippling fear. But my misery was worse than the fear. So I reached for some courage and left my marriage.
I was afraid to be a single mom. I was terrified of losing friends and family. When some members of my family said I shouldn’t be allowed to raise my own children because I came out, I was petrified someone would try and take them away. Putting one foot in front of the other in life and in business became a daily act of courage.
There have been many examples like that in my life of moving forward shaking with fear, but still moving forward anyway with courage. As Shannon Cohen says, “It’s normal to shake as you soar.”
Go with courage, my friends. Don’t worry about that fear.