Over the past two years, I have started to live a Man Makes Fire lifestyle that is based on two core components: adventure and camaraderie. I get the opportunity to talk to hundreds of men. These men are all over the board financially, and their ages, family size, and job types . . . you name some descriptive element, and they’re all different. However, I’m finding a theme that’s a little scary to me, and my Man Makes Fire partner Chris Maxcer may have put it best in his post on seven tips for big adventures:
“I’ve already fallen into the trap of being all talk and not enough walk.”
See, talk is easy and fun, but there’s no challenge to it. When I bring up my next adventure, I get all kinds of excitement and guys saying they want to go — but when the invite goes out, there’s a lot of backing out. I’m not one to let people back out too easily, and generally the real reason for backing out is not money, work, family, or chores. It’s fear. The real reason is that the guy is just not comfortable with the adventure. In their minds they want to be bold and go for it, but fear is beating them down, grabbing hold of a good intention and twisting it up into a balled mass of paralyzing inaction.
We all have a little bit of fear, though, and it’s a good thing. In general, fear keeps us alive. It’s a good day for a parent when you see your small child climb up a ladder, look down, and realize that falling would be bad. But man, would you want your children to do this every day with their life? Take one step up a ladder, then stop, realizing that if they continue, they could possibly fall? A fear-based lifestyle is a soul crushing, zombie creating, black hole that gets bigger every time you turn away.
I do know for certain, though — from the guys I see and from what I’ve seen within myself — that there’s a simple path out of the darkness:
Do. Do. Do.
- Take small steps: Identify the fear then crush it by walking slowly at it.
- Go with a group or a friend that knows how to do what you’re afraid of.
- Rewire your failure feelings. Failure just means you didn’t succeed this time, it does not mean you will never succeed.
- Focus on the present and the details. Don’t play the “what if” game. It’s a losing game.
- Push yourself to do, and the more you do, the more confident you become. It creates a habit circle and you may become addicted to it. I have.
Today I’m talking about adventure, but fear can creep in everywhere. Often we confuse fear with security. I use to be scared to lose a job, and I drove myself — at the cost of everything else — to be “needed” at work. Again, it is easy to confuse “being needed” as not a fear. Fear is the yin to the happiness yang. It will always be there so embrace it, accept it, and keep it in its place. Yes, there is a place for fear in your life, and it should be in your gut, and it should question you at important points, but it should not paralyze you (think deer in the head lights). If anything, fear should motivate you.
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