Do Things That Scare You.

Sequoia

Having lived in Northern California for the first part of my life, I had a lot of opportunities to climb the giant redwood tree.

One day, two friends and I found the most ideal climbing tree we’d ever stumbled upon. It had perfectly spaced limbs every few feet and very little pine needles blocking our accent. I couldn’t tell you how tall this tree was but I do remember it being the tallest, climbable tree I’d ever encountered. It was huge like most redwoods tend to be.

Nate, the oldest, was a lot braver than me and my other friend Chris. His dad was a lumberjack so I’m pretty sure he had climbed hundreds of trees already by that point. I remember Nate spotting the tree and within seconds, he was already 10 feet in the air. The expectation was that Chris and I closely followed. Of course, we did, but not without some major fear and trepidation. From standing on the ground I could see to the very top and unfortunately, it was all climbable. There was no getting out of this one.

When you’re a boy of that age, you can’t be the only one that doesn’t climb. Whether it’s jumping off a cliff, sneaking into an abandoned warehouse, or climbing the world’s tallest tree, it’s a rite of passage. For most boys, bravery is a prerequisite for fun.

I remember thinking after climbing to each new limb, ”I should have already been on my way back down”. I climbed for what seemed like an eternity, limb after limb. As I ascended higher, my stomach tightened while each breath became more and more shallow.

That feeling of conquest from reaching the top was unforgettable — my 10-year-old self felt like a warrior. At that moment I thought about how very few people on earth were on a tree that high. Come on, that’s a pretty cool realization. I had made it, I had conquered the tree but more importantly, I had conquered my fear.

Be brave

Now, I’m not going to say you should go climb to the top of a redwood tree or skyscraper like the kid pictured, but you must do something that scares you. Rock climbing, skydiving, shooting a gun, asking someone on a date, confronting a bully. You name it, we both know that you have something dangerous that you would like to do or know you should do, but haven’t. Something you’ve procrastinated or rationalized away.

Doing something dangerous is invigorating, even life-changing. It gives you confidence and bravery for the next time you’re staring down fear…for when you’re facing your own personal redwood.

After climbing that colossal redwood, do you think large trees had the same effect on me? My fear of heights was forever desensitized with this one courageous action.

Unfortunately, fear has the unique ability to cripple the strongest among us. It can hinder your willingness to try new things. It can prevent you from experiencing the best parts of life. It can even force you to sacrifice the best parts of life for its lessening and alleviation.

True Fear

Things you should actually fear are the dangers you don’t see; the alligator beneath the surface, the drunk driver headed your direction, the asbestos on the worksite, and the unrevealed clogged artery. We’re only in danger when we’re not prepared when we are unaware of what lurks beneath.

Look at challenging and difficult tasks as something to be mastered, not something to be feared. We grow most from conquering that which scares us and not from the avoidance of it.

This is how you become dangerous.

Action Item — Pick one of these challenges.

  1. Ask 5 people of the opposite sex for their phone number. (Who cares about their response? That’s not what matters. You’re doing something courageous.)
  2. Post your work somewhere for the world to see. (Maybe it’s just online or in your Facebook feed. The goal is to make yourself known. Let people see the real you.)
  3. Ask a question in your next zoom meeting. (If you are the one that never talks, then on your next call be the one that speaks.)
  4. Hold that snake! (Okay, that sounded weird but the point being if you’re afraid of snakes then hold one. Afraid of dogs? Pet one.)

Fear: “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.”

Read more about this topic Here.

Have you read the first of the “How to Become Dangerous” Series? If not, click here.

A dangerous person is willing to run towards that which frightens them. Expose yourself to that which causes you to fear. Embrace it!

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Tweeting about Helpful Herustics, Mental Models, Learning Techniques, & Body Hacks | Speaker learning how to write.

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Tweeting about Helpful Herustics, Mental Models, Learning Techniques, & Body Hacks | Speaker learning how to write.

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