When the next step terrifies you

Don’t step back, step forward

Almost my whole adult life I’ve known what I ultimately want to do.

I know that makes me a bit rare, because there are many (most, even) who struggle to identify their life’s mission, who feel trapped in their path, and uncertain of their future… often because they don’t yet know what that ultimately is.

But for me, I’ve known for some time.

The circumstances of my life created in me a burning desire to help other people find success in life. Early on I became enamored with what success looked like, what leads some to succeed while others seem to stall.

For more than the last 20 years I’ve made it a disciplined pursuit to study success and to understand its underlying principles. I’ve been building up a repository of content, stories, and principles based on all the science I could get my hands on. I built a methodology that distills those two decades worth of research into 16 fundamental elements of success and a framework in which to use them to move forward in life.

And then I’ve waited.

I’ve waited for the right time to go all-in on this effort. Every time I get to a pivot point in life, especially around the changing of a job, I do some soul searching to decide if this is the time. But I’ve never felt like it was, and so I’ve kept it simmering on the side. I’d move on to some other job, and it would quickly become apparent just how critical that job and its associated experience would be in preparing me for the ultimate, inevitable moment when I’d suddenly decide, “it’s time.”

Well, it’s time.

And even though I know I’m more ready than I’ve ever been, and maybe ever will be, the decision is terrifying. I know unequivocally that it’s the right thing to do, and that I’m the right person to do it, but it doesn’t matter. I’m terrified. Because I’m human.

I can’t help but obsess over what I don’t have. It takes everything I have to not dwell on the risk and what will happen if I get it wrong. I obsess over my own inadequacies. I fantasize over the worst-case scenario, as if that’s the only possible outcome. I doubt. I fear.

Being terrified doesn’t mean you’re weak, it means you’re human.

The most important steps we take in life are often going to be the most terrifying. They’re terrifying because they’re significant. They’re terrifying because they take you from where you’ve been and set you on a path to somewhere new. And because that path is new, it is mostly unknown, and we’re afraid of the unknown.

Most people get to the precipice of these critical steps, and then back away.

They back away because they think they’re not ready. They back away because they want to wait until that road is more clear, and the path is more paved. They back away because the fear of change is greater than the desire for what’s on the other side of fear. But the most important things in life lie on the other side of fear.

So don’t back away.

When you come to those moments in life when you find yourself on the precipice of a decision that terrifies you, a step that takes you off the beaten path and to a new destination, don’t back away.

First, recognize that what you’re feeling has been felt by everyone that ever faced greatness. What you’re feeling has been felt by everyone that chose to step up, to stand out, to change their life, and to change the world. You’re not alone and you’re not weak. You’re human.

But that fear… that fear will sharpen you. It will hone your focus and sharpen your senses. It’ll bring out the best in you in the same way that it threatens to bring out the  worst in you. It’s polarizing in that way. Most importantly, when you choose to take that step, to show up in life, and show up day after day to make that dream a reality… that will give you strength that few ever experience.

Each of us wake up every day and make a decision. We decide who we’re going to be for that day; and the decision we make most often becomes our legacy. So the question is, who are you going to wake up and be today? Are you going to be the old you, or the new? Are you going to continue to subscribe to the path you’re on, or are you going to figure out the critical next step, face that fear, and take it?

You know, history gives a lot of credit to those courageous few who, in a single bold stroke, change the course of the world. We call them heroes.

I also think heroes are the people who dare to dream big. Heroes are people who dream big and then show up, day after day, to pursue that dream. They keep pushing, even when there is no evidence of progress, no end in sight, and nothing but raw will and the power of their purpose to fuel their mighty, relentless effort.

To me, those people are heroes too. These are people who leave a legacy. So the question is…

What cause do you live for?
What difference are you trying to make in the world?
What’s your next step?

If you don’t know yet what that is, if you don’t know how to move forward, or if you need help overcoming the fear (and the gravitational pull of whatever is holding you back), then I can help.

But whether you get my help or not, I would just ask you… take that step. Take the step, even when the journey ahead terrifies you. Because the world needs what you have to offer.

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