Feeling afraid? Get a second opinion from your inner panel of advisors
September 11, 2014
As I observed a moment of silence this morning, I thought about all that has happened in New York since that tragic day in 2001.
I can tell you what has NOT happened: the city has not become paralyzed by fear. Which is no small feat, given that 9/11 gave us much fodder for fear. Airplanes. Tall buildings. City living. People who look different than yourself.
And yet here we are, 13 years later, with new towers built and about to open on the World Trade Center site, Manhattan property values high and rising, and an African-American US President with the names "Hussein" and "Obama." We don't have a perfectly fear-free record (you could point to a few lingering wars that originally stemmed from fear), but still, there is cause for celebration.
Today is a day to take a lesson out of that playbook for your own life. Where, in your life, are you not living the life you want to live because of fear? Where does fear hold you back from the growth and prosperity that you so crave?
Where do you find yourself thinking:
I can't ask for that. I'll look stupid.
I can't change my career. What if I fail at it?
I can't leave my marriage. How will I be able to stand on my own two feet?
I can't join that gym. I look terrible.
Our minds are hard-wired to take fear very seriously. After all, if you were an early man walking through the savannah and heard a rustle in the brush, you would be smart to run the heck out of there.
But in today's world, we need to take the voice of fear with a grain of salt.
It's like when you ask people for advice, say, about whether to take a pricey vacation to the Andes. Your adventuresome single friend will tell you that you should go for it! After all, you only live once. Your fiscally conservative uncle will tell you to save that money for a down payment on a house. Your germ-o-phobic mother will warn you of all of the rare diseases in that part of the world.
Your job is to gather these opinions from your panel of advisors, weigh them, and decide what path is right for you. The same is true with fear. It offers one opinion, but please don't let it be the only opinion.
What other opinions should you be listening to? Here are a few:
The voice of passion. This is the voice in your head that tells you what sounds fun and worthwhile. It comes from what you value, what you believe, and what you want to build with your life. This voice tells you that a vacation sounds like fun, that a career is a good fit for you, and that a person is someone who you would like to spend the rest of your life with.
The voice of opportunity. This is the voice that finds unique opportunities to grow and expand yourself. It clamors when it finds a chance to be promoted, an under-priced home that you could buy, or a chance to be invited to a fantastic networking event.
The voice of benevolence. This is the voice that takes care of other people in your life. It is the voice that has you stop and help the person struggling to carry a package up the stairs. It is the voice that has you help out the new hire in the office, or give money to your friend's charity walk.
The voice of love. This is the voice that cherishes and cares about your loved ones. It has you call your sick friend to check in, or to give up your vacation so that your sister can have one, instead. It is the voice that clamors for you to spend the rest of your life with someone, even though they aren't perfect.
Your job, then, is to make sure that you interview all of the voices in your internal "panel of advisors" before you make a decision. If you still choose to follow fear's counsel, then likely it is for good reason. It probably IS a bad idea to spend you life's savings on a vacation, or to bike the wrong way down a one-way street in Manhattan.
Where in your life are you only listening to the voice of fear? What do the other voices have to say? Include them in your council. How does that change your perspective?