A little over a month ago my friend Kristen gave me a quotable card that says:
"Do one thing every day that scares you." – Eleanor Roosevelt
I got the card and set it near my kitchen sink. I would stare at it every time I washed my hands, scrubbed dishes, drained pasta, or cut vegetables. I tried to throw it away, but couldn’t, then decided maybe if I tried putting it into practice it would stop haunting me. In keeping with my current theme of trying new things, being brave, facing fears, accepting new challenges without shrinking, I decided it was time for this daily dose of really testing (and expanding!) my limits.
So for a month I did something each day, in varying degrees of course, that was scary. I was surprised at how difficult this really was.
Among my scary things:
One day I descended a pretty steep hill on my bike without hitting my brakes.
One day I risked the painful sting of rejection by admitting the truth.
One day I rode my bike for 5 hours with hills.
One day I jumped into the same lane as Matt Reed and JZ at swimming.
One day I made a cold call about publishing some of my work.
One day I had a conversation that was so difficult that it left me breathless, puffy-eyed, and congested for the rest of the day.
One day I cooked dinner for a new friend.
One day I helped a stranger who was stranded with their car off the side of the road.
One day I rode my bike amid brutal, howling winds, and stayed out there in it (and later cleaned my bike shorts! HA!).
One day I let silence be an answer, and let it go.
Being really honest, trying something new, or doing something old in a new and improved way…all these things, in one way or another, scare the crap out of me. I feel totally vulnerable. Why? Because I’m afraid of hurting, burning, bonking, crashing, or running out of air. Yet I have, to date, survived every single thing, so why the fear?
It has been a worthwhile experiment, doing my One Thing. Facing fear is ultimately easier than constantly navigating around situations to avoid it. I’m thinking that if I can train myself in this way, expand my comfort zone and my threshold in the presence of fear, my new reaction to it might become second nature. Like the way athletes practice a certain sequence of motion over and over again until their body knows it by heart. I want my default set to courage and openness.
That courage is somewhere inside each of us when we dare to run, to speak the truth, to love, to believe, to work hard, to explore and nurture our true selves, to face the things that confuse or intimidate us.
"The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out and meet it."
It starts with One Thing.