That Enemy, My Friend, is Fear

You’ve heard it before:

Do what scares you.

You mentally agree with the sentiment. You may have even concluded that you needed to actually follow-through with the idea, that doing things that scare you is not just a good idea but one full of opportunity, adventure, and real-life change.

I know I have.

But, when there’s an opportunity to actually do something that scares me I want to back-off, take my hand off the trigger, and remove my foot from the gas.

This fundamental, biological, instinctual mechanism is built within us to save us from harm. Why? I imagine it’s most simply this: That we might live one more day on planet earth. I get it, but, I don’t like it. And “just living” is the last thing that you and I want to do.

Last night I went ahead and did something scary. I captured a few candid thoughts about what it’s like to struggle with mental illness. I shared what it was like to suffer through a day under psychological siege.

As I went back and edited the one-take the adrenaline kicked in high-gear. I started hearing those voices in my head, the ones that, again, are attempting to keep you alive.

  1. Why do you need to post this? No one really cares. It’s not even that good.
  2. People are going to judge you. In fact, they may hate you.
  3. The people closest to you are going to leave you. You are making them uncomfortable. You don’t have that many friends anyway.
  4. This is career-suicide. No one will hire you or want to work with you if you admit that you have mental illness. Good luck feeding your family.
  5. You’re going to wake up and regret this, you know. The world doesn’t need another complainer.
  6. You’re an asshole, an egomaniac. No one cares about your issues.

And so on.

I wanted to listen to them. They seemed so reasonable, so logical. These voices were trying to help me, right?

I pushed publish anyway:

Yes, it’s a single-take. Yes, it’s not my “best” visual vlog. Yes, it may actually do many of those things that the voices were telling me. Hell, I even published it to LinkedIn so I could maximize career-suicide:

45+ views and counting… my career is over.

And when I hit publish on this post it’ll go out, one more time, to confirm the kill. Double-tap everything, as the good assassins know and the U.S. Army Training Manual states:

There is a natural arc of the front sight post after the round is fired and the recoil kicks in. The soldier lets the barrel go with this arc and immediately brings the front sight post back on target and takes a second shot. The soldier does not fight the recoil. In combat, soldiers shoot until the enemy goes down.

Do not fight the recoil. Shoot until the enemy goes down. And that enemy is fear.

If doing things that scare you is the last thing that you want to do with your life then you’re thinking smart, you’re thinking conservatively, and taking the wise path, the one well-trodden and safe.

And you and I would probably be just fine. Maybe even super-successful too. I don’t believe that reward necessarily requires risk. We don’t have to look too hard to find folks who’ve been richly “rewarded” without suffering any risk.

I’ve just decided to do it differently, with my enemy, my friend, fear.