My son and his girlfriend wanted to go skiing and asked if I could take them up. I immediately said yes and was excited myself to head up for the first time this year.
Then it started to snow.
I began applying the brakes, so to speak, to my offer to drive. I'm not good in snow. My family would say that I'm not good in anything but sunny, clear roads. I started to warn them the night before, that we would "play it by ear" in the morning. When morning came, I drove to a 6am client's house and slipped a few times on the dump of snow from the night before. I started freaking out and thinking of a way to back out, or at the least, get them to the Big White shuttle bus for 7am.
After training, I looked at my phone to check the road conditions and saw an onslaught of texts from my son. Most of them had the underlying currents of, "But you promised!", "You said you would!", "Please mom, I'll drive!".
And so, begrudgingly, I went.
My son, who has had his learner's driving licence for 5 months probably could have driven there faster than me, but there was no way in hell I was giving up what little control I felt in that moment. He teased me when I pulled over to allow people to pass and laughed out loud when a grandma pulled around our car. I nervously clutched the steering wheel and kept muttering a phrase that my dad taught us when we were young, "Drive within your abilities Tracy".
Where were those abilities now? Why was I so scared? Why do I sometimes allow fear to grip me by the throat and stop me in my tracks?
I thought about this as I took that first amazing run down the ski hill. If I had let my fears get the best of me, I wouldn't be on that hill in that moment, skiing. I thought about other times in my life where fear, rational or irrational, stopped me from an experience. Sometimes, I need to stay within my abilities because its the right, and safe thing to do! But how often have I missed out on something amazing because I was too scared? Enough times to write this blog.
I recall a time when I was asked to speak at a conference on health and wellness. The audience was about 300 people and when I was asked I was thrilled and immediately answered yes! The hour before I was about to go on, I was petrified! I tried to think of every reason NOT to do it. I even contemplated getting a "fake" emergency call that would allow me to bail out. I know, for shame. Instead, I asked myself what was the worse that could happen? Not surprisingly, there were lots of answers there! I'd choke on my words, forget what I was saying, sound like I didn't know what I was talking about, etc. And yet, this is where staying within your abilities comes in. I was prepared for this conference. I did know what I was talking about. I was the expert on this topic. So, instead of turning and running with my tail between my legs, I faced my fear and delivered what I thought was an inspirational talk. Once I was in the zone, I enjoyed myself so much, I wondered why I ever felt scared!
So, here's the point: The best way to overcome your fears is to hit them head on! Think about something that you would love to experience and ask yourself what is stopping you? If its a rational fear, then take the steps to overcome that. Scared of driving in the snow? Take driving lessons or practice in a safe area to increase your abilities. Do you want to join an adventure race with your friends? Then take 6 months to prepare yourself and train your body. Do you want to do public speaking? Then practice in front of a mirror, then your family, then a small group of friends and so on.
If its an irrational fear, then we need to turn inside and ask ourselves some tough questions: What am I afraid of? What's the worst that could happen? What might I gain if I push past my fears? That's the real blessing! We could actually enrich our lives beyond what they are.
SO my challenge to you in 2016, is to push past your fears to become more of who you truly are. I'd love to hear how you plan to do that, or what fears you've overcome in the comments below.