Tag Archives: afraid

The 50 Words That Describe You Best

“The three words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote: Stink, Stank, Stunk!” –Dr. Seuss

Hello friend,

I told you recently that the way I want to feel this year is BRAVE. After saying goodbye to my trusty old job at the end of the year, I knew that, in order for this year to turn out alright, it would have to be defined by my courage. So far, I would say it has been.

There are many passages in my journal that show me propping myself up, reminding me of both what is at stake and how I have stepped up before. Those journaling sessions have been invaluable, as I have used them to propel myself toward finishing a book and submitting it for lots of potential rejection. I have risen to the challenge. I have been brave.

I can’t tell you how good it makes me feel to describe myself as brave! That adjective is hard won, and I am savoring it now. I have realized something else, though, in these days of summoning my courage: I wouldn’t need to be brave if I wasn’t so darn scared!

That’s the thing about courage: it doesn’t show up unless you are afraid.

So, while I am still proud of myself for being brave lately, I would be lying if I said I haven’t spent even more time racked in fear. Fear of going broke. Fear of failing as a writer. Fear of a future in a soul-crushing job. Fear of not being enough. Sure, I have stepped up and worked through it most days, but it has felt crippling anyway.

It was nice to use “brave” to describe what I am all about, but if I am being honest, the adjective “afraid” fits me at least as well. That seems weird, right? I have been wrestling with this seeming paradox this week, trying to understand who I really am. Am I brave, or am I afraid? If one of those words defines me, does it mean the other one shouldn’t? Am I a walking contradiction?

I decided that the best way to work this out is to come up with a bigger list of adjectives to describe who I am. That way I would know if I am being pulled apart on other issues, too (and if I am a good candidate for the loony bin!).

The list, I decided, should be long enough so I am not just a cartoon figure, but not so long as to cover every single thought or emotion I have ever experienced, making me a mere blur of every adjective in the English language. I went with 50.

So, without further ado, this is how I would describe myself, in no particular order:

  1. Brave
  2. Afraid
  3. Curious
  4. Sentimental
  5. Self-confident
  6. Impatient
  7. Sincere
  8. Optimistic
  9. Driven
  10. Altruistic
  11. Mindful
  12. Insecure
  13. Open-minded
  14. Spiritual
  15. Competitive
  16. Pacifistic
  17. Principled
  18. Kind
  19. Stubborn
  20. Unsocial
  21. Grounded
  22. Progressive
  23. Opinionated
  24. Passionate
  25. Compassionate
  26. Silly
  27. Independent
  28. Spoiled
  29. Intuitive
  30. Positive
  31. Non-confrontational
  32. Generous
  33. Grateful
  34. Introverted
  35. Selfish
  36. Happy
  37. Playful
  38. Unforgiving
  39. Wise
  40. Adventurous
  41. Inclusive
  42. Cerebral
  43. Demanding
  44. Nostalgic
  45. Sensitive
  46. Authentic
  47. Caring
  48. Self-isolating
  49. Wonder-filled
  50. Serene

Okay, that is enough! There are plenty more I can think of to cover all of my moods and my worldview, but this is good. It is a fairly clear picture, at least from my eyes. I know we don’t always see ourselves the way others see us, but I will not worry about the others for now. It is challenge enough to clarify my own view.

In looking at it now, I can see that the brave-afraid duo is not the only seeming contradiction in my personality description. I am definitely both selfish and altruistic. I am both cerebral and intuitive, passionate and serene, open-minded and opinionated. And I am certainly, depending on the moment, very often self-confident and very often insecure.

In those combinations, I can see how foolish we are when we try to put others in a box based on one thing we know about them. After all, if I am any indication, the opposite characteristic might be just as true for that person we have tried to trap in the box. So, making them into a cartoon character so that they can quickly fit into a box in my mind simply doesn’t tell the truth and shortchanges both of us.

Much like the contradicting combinations, there are some of these qualities that have both positive and negative aspects, and I can see myself covering the full spectrum. Sensitivity is one. It can be wonderful when appreciating art and being compassionate toward my fellow human beings, but it can also make everything sting more than it should and make me resistant to hearing criticism of all sorts. I can see this range of positive and negative outcomes with my fierce independence, too. As with the combinations, this broad-spectrum view reminds me to be more open-minded when observing someone else’s personality.

That, I can see now, points to the difficulty in gleaning any meaningful conclusions from the list taken all by itself. If I just looked at this list of 50 adjectives and didn’t know who it represented, I couldn’t be sure if I liked this person or not, precisely because each characteristic can show itself in a number of different ways. Sure, some characteristics are almost certainly more favorable than others—kind is better than unforgiving, right?—so we can get hints from the list. But, without the context of the actual person, it is a challenge.

So, though I wouldn’t necessarily use this process as the answer to finding your soul-mate, I found it immensely helpful for examining myself (and that is exactly what our journaling is all about). I learned a lot from those very first words I wrote in my notebook after I said, “GO!” And then later I learned a lot from the end of the process, when I had written around 80 words and had to narrow it down to 50. That is when I started digging harder: “Who am I REALLY?” My answers were revealing, more so than I would have guessed before I started the list.

In the end, I think my biggest takeaway is that I am complex, that I don’t fit very well in any neat box, not even one of my own making. That is an important lesson for me, not just for my own self-awareness, but in how it affects the way I need to walk the world. I have been journaling every day for 20 years, so I know myself extremely well and know that I have well-defined views and attitudes on just about everything. If I am still revealing contradictions and wildly divergent personality traits about myself–and if I am feeling more certain than ever that I don’t belong in a box–then I ought not be so quick to put anyone else in a box, either.

This process, then, has been a necessary reminder to make better use of some of the adjectives I listed in my 50: open-minded, curious, kind, compassionate, altruistic, generous, caring, and inclusive. Yes, I think I will work on those. If I walked out of the world tomorrow and could leave the people in my life with any words to describe me, I would be satisfied with those.

How about you? Which words describe you best? Open up your journal and your vocabulary. What are the very first words that come to mind about you? What is it about those characteristics that make them so prominent in your description? Are they things that you have always thought about yourself? Are they things that other people usually mention about you? How close are they to the core of you? Which of your words are ones that maybe only you think about yourself, words that would surprise other people to read? How much of your personality do most people see? How much of that is because you intentionally protect certain sides of yourself? If I gave a list of 200 words—including the 50 you wrote about yourself—to your three closest loved ones and asked them to pick out your 50, how many would they guess correctly? What if I asked your co-workers? Do you feel like you are honest and authentic about who you really are in most situations—e.g. at work, with friends, with acquaintances, with family, etc.—or do you mostly wear a bland mask until you are with your closest loved ones? How much has your list changed in the last 10 or 20 years? How different, if at all, will it look 20 years from now? How many contradictions are on your list, like my self-confident/insecure combination? Are you more or less complicated than most people, or about the same? How much do you cling to the boxes you put people in? Did this exercise change the way you think about that? Do you like who you are and what is on your list? Which words do you hope to get rid of? Which are your favorite characteristics? Which ones are not on there now but hopefully will be soon? Can you add a new one today? Leave me a reply and let me know: Which words describe you best?  

Live free,


P.S. If today’s challenge made you look at yourself differently, please pass it on. Let’s all be our beautiful selves!

Permission to Fail: Learning to Grow by Taking Risks

DSC_0678“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” –Henry Ford

Hello friend,

I have been faffing all week, and it is beginning to drive me crazy! “What in the world is faffing?” you may be asking. Good question! Well, it is not exactly a word in every dictionary. I think it is British. I heard someone explain it once, though, and I appreciated the concept so much that I have adopted it as a real word (with my own slant). Faffing, at least for me, is when you busy yourself with lots of tasks that, even though they may be somewhat important and productive, aren’t the primary thing you really ought to be doing. While faffing, you may be keeping yourself so busy that you aren’t even fully conscious that you are avoiding the important thing. You have an alibi, an excuse. It is a subtle form of procrastination or stalling, masked in productivity. And if you are not honest with yourself, you can really make a habit of it. Trust me, I know.

What sorts of things have I persuaded myself were important this week? It suddenly became very pressing that I take care of some long-neglected financial stuff. I just had to find out how to unsubscribe from a service that I have been a part of for too long. My desk area needed a re-organization. The old basketball hoop demanded to be disassembled. On and on. You get the idea. I was filling the time with tasks, checking things off the To-Do List. Good, right?


I have been slowly growing more anxious and irritable by the day. I feel like I have cabin fever. I am pent-up, ready to burst. You see, even though all of those things were important tasks that I have been needing to accomplish—I tend to put off all unnecessary tasks in favor of my absolutely most important pursuits, so these things tend to build up—they definitely could have waited for a different day. So, why was I doing them?

I was hiding. Scared.

I have recently made a commitment to myself to write a new book I. I wrote a quick opening last week, and just the feeling of being started was a wonderful relief. But, I also knew that the next phase of the book would be by far the most difficult for me to work on. I had a grind ahead of me. I was feeling insecure about so much of it—how long I should make this part, how much detail was just the right balance between being informative but not boring, whether I was skilled enough to write in a style that I was not accustomed to, how I was going to find the time to sink my teeth into the research—and that insecurity began to freeze me. I was afraid. Afraid that once I dove in, I might not be able to swim as well as I want to believe I can. So, unconsciously at first, I started looking for a way out.

Faffing was my way out. It allowed a psychological warm blanket. After all, I hadn’t quit on the project, so there should be no guilt. I was just too busy to work on it for a few days. That’s fair, right? Life is busy. It’s a great excuse.

I used to be able to faff for long periods of time. Years, even. I am not a good faffer anymore. Thanks to my daily journaling, the persistent call of my soul is too unmistakable now. I cannot shut it out for more than a few days without getting that anxious, pent-up feeling. I am too aware of it, even from the first day. I have, over the years, become an expert at recognizing things that waste my precious time. I cannot stand to waste time.

So why would I allow myself a string of days with no productivity on the thing that my soul is shouting so determinedly in favor of? Fear of failure is a powerful beast.

As I recognize my faffing for what it is, I am starting to see that perhaps the greatest gift I can give myself right now is permission to fail. If I continue to focus on how difficult the task is and how I might not have the tools and talent to pull it off, I will never dig in and try. I will just sit here with my fears and my excuses—always masking as BUSY-NESS—as my prime slips past me and my passion slips away. That sounds like a fate worse than death.

In my case, I think I need to just plow through what writers often refer to as “my crappy first draft” so I can get all of my thoughts out there, however jumbled and unclear. If I can release my fears and insecurities about how bad it could be and who might read it and just write the darn thing, I know that I will be able to see the whole project more clearly and learn what it will take to be better. Then I can set about to actually doing it better in the next draft. By the third one, I should have it.

Better than that, though, is that I will have the confidence of knowing that I stood up and acted in the face of my greatest fears, that I made a bold move on behalf of my dreams. I have to think that can only help me in calling upon my courage the next time. And the next time. And the next time. Exercising those “brave muscles” will make them stronger and more used to working, making it easier and easier to call upon them when the old fears creep back in, as I know they will.

I am bound to fail, of course. I will mess up. This first draft will be horrible. Probably the second draft will, too. Maybe I will even recognize later that it is just not going to be a book that will be as helpful as I had envisioned when I was starting, and I will trash it. Maybe. But even if this one works, my next idea might not. Failure is part of the deal. I like the inventor Thomas Edison’s quote: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” This from the guy who is also known to have claimed, “I failed my way to success.” He sounds like a brave guy to me.

Of course, “failure” is a relative term. There are bound to be bumps in the road, missed marks, and rejections. If I can recognize them as parts of the learning process rather than finalities, I think I can do this thing. Or at least keep trying to. I will try to follow Einstein, who said, “You never fail until you stop trying.” I plan to keep trying—and failing—to make my dreams come true. That is the path for me. No more faffing. I am ready to get back to work!

How about you? What do you aspire to but often wrestle with your insecurities about actually doing? Open up your journal and get real about what holds you back. What do you want most to do that you aren’t currently acting on right now? Think big! What is it? Okay, now write down your list of excuses. What are the things you tell yourself about why you aren’t pursuing that passion? How many of those excuses are based in fear? What would you be risking in taking a shot? Would you look foolish if it didn’t work out? Would it threaten your financial future? How embarrassed would you feel if you failed? How many people know about the thing you want to do? If you could take the risk to try it without anyone else knowing, would that make it easier? How crushed do you think you would be if your first attempt did not work out? Is it important enough to you that you would keep trying anyway? Will you keep trying no matter what happens? If your big thing is too big for you to make a full go at it right now, is there a small step you could take today in the direction of your dream? How tough will it be to give yourself permission to take it? What is the worst that could happen? What is the best that could happen? Leave me a reply and let me know: Are you willing to take a leap today?

Bet on yourself,


P.S. If this made you think a little bigger or had you feeling dreamy and tempted, please share it. Let’s build an audacious community!

Slasher Films, Heights, & The Principal’s Office: What Scares You Most in This World?

DSC_1155“Don’t be afraid of being scared. To be afraid is a sign of common sense. Only complete idiots are not afraid of anything.” –Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Angel’s Game 

Hello friend,

It was a perfect afternoon for Spring skiing in the magnificent mountains of Montana. It was the early 80s, and I was a boy of no more than ten. Every year when I was a kid, we would load up the family truckster and cross the flatlands of North Dakota to those beautiful mountains, one state away but feeling like a whole other planet to me. By the time that fateful day came around, I had been on skis for several years. I was an intermediate—not better—but I had fumbled my way down some pretty serious terrain with my daredevil older brothers and our mountain companions.

We usually shared our family trips with other families—a couple of crews jammed into a condominium down in the valley by night and spread out all over the mountain by day—and that year’s trip was no different. My partners for the day were my brother Jacques and our friend Mike, both a year or so older than me, and both fearless. They would go full-speed over the biggest of jumps and then zip through the woods to find more of them. They never worried about getting hurt and never minded breaking the rules in their search for fun and adventure. In this way and more, I definitely proved to be the odd man out in that young threesome.

I was the scaredy-cat of the group. When they threw caution to the wind, I made sure to catch it for them and keep it safe. But that had always been me. I was the kid who took every warning and cautionary tale to heart. Although I came by it naturally, my worrisome mother put the fear of many things in me, including such things as motorcycles and snakes. She was sure the “loads” smoking in the alley across the street from the middle school were big trouble, and I became obsessively frightened of them as a little kid. I was terrified of Mr. Medalen, my elementary school principal (and every principal thereafter). I remember being in his office when I won the school spelling bee, and I was still sweating bullets thinking he was going to grab my ear for some offense I didn’t know I had committed. I was—and still am, I must admit–that way around police officers, too. I also never liked scary movies (though perhaps that is because I shouldn’t have been watching “The Amityville Horror,” “Friday the 13th,” and the like as a second grader), and I always feared hurting myself if I went fast on bikes, skis, or skateboards. I guess caution and fear were just in my nature. So, it’s no surprise I was not the leader of the pack with my brother and Mike that day on the mountain. Oh sure, I followed them off the same jumps and through the same woods, but I did it with less speed and more fear than they did. They were older and cooler; who was I to argue?

That is how I found myself, on that loveliest of mountain afternoons, scared completely out of my wits. It all started with mischievous Mike, who had skied the mountain the day before we had arrived and claimed to know where the best trails were. He led a large contingent of us—adults included–on a beautiful, untouched powder run earlier in the day. Of course, the only reason it was untouched was that we had to ski under the out-of-bounds rope to get to it. This, of course, terrified me. I was just sure we would be discovered and banned from skiing at the resort ever again. I could not believe my parents were allowing it to happen. I was the youngest from both families and powerless to say anything. I was nervous the whole way down, certain of our imminent capture and punishment. To my great relief, we made it down and back inside the ropes without incident.

Later in the day, though, as closing time rapidly approached, the three of us youngsters split off from the group, and the real adventure began. Mike said he knew about one other special run for us. As we casually cruised down one of our usual runs, suddenly Mike—with Jacques right on his heels—darted to the right and under the out-of-bounds rope into forbidden territory. Dread instantly consumed me. The run behind the ropes was called “War Dance.” I was familiar with it, as each morning as we drove up to the mountain in the family van, I could see its imposing moguls, steepness, and especially its “cliff” cutting right across the middle of the run. It looked like the last place I belonged on that mountain. Since it had a name and a rating (definitely black diamond), I assumed it had been open at some point in history when there was enough snow to cover over the branches and rocks of the cliff that bisected the run and had to be navigated to make it to the bottom alive. But I had never seen it open and had no plans to visit if it ever did. Clearly, Mike had other plans.

With my heart in my throat, I ducked under the rope and raced to catch up. The top of the run was much flatter but full of deep powder from lack of use. My adrenaline was fueled by the potential for capture, the dangerous cliff and steepness that I knew were up ahead, and finally, a race against the clock. It was the end of the day, and by taking that turn under the rope, we were headed to the back side of the mountain, where the only chairlift was about to close and there was no other way back to the lodge and our families. We needed to get to the bottom alive, without getting caught, and fast!

As we drew to a halt at the top of the cliff, we were all stumped as to how to make it down to the next tier. The snow just stopped, and in the ten or fifteen vertical feet before it began again, there were only rocks and twisted branches. I was as scared as I had ever been. I skied side-to-side from one tree line to the other, trying to find an opening, a path that would not lead to death or dismemberment. Finally, seeing no way to ski around it and knowing we were almost out of time, I made the fateful decision to take my skis off and carry them on my shoulder as I climbed/slid down the cliff. Shaking with fear, I inched my way down, then watched as my companions abandoned their fears and skied right over the tangled branches and rocks, both miraculously making it without breaking a bone or a ski.

Feeling some relief that the cliff was in the past, it seemed like all that was left was an all-out sprint against the clock. Unfortunately for me, my troubles were only beginning. On the steep face of a mountain that was covered in deep powder, getting my skis back on proved to be a nearly impossible endeavor. While Jacques and Mike made their way over the moguls and finally a beeline to the long catwalk that led out of the woods and toward the lift, I fought with my equipment to get the snow cleared just enough to get my boots clamped in, however tenuously. Sweating profusely and hearing the clock ticking in my mind, I finally got them on and did my best to catch up.

As I pulled out of the woods and caught sight of my partners approaching the lift up ahead, something was eerily missing from the scene. People. No one was there. Our side of the mountain was closed for the day, and even the lift operators had gone up the mountain. Terror filled my heart as I drew nearer to the base of the lift. Our one salvation was that it was still moving, carrying its hundreds of empty benches up the mountain. For a brief moment, I thought we might get off scot-free. We hadn’t been killed on War Dance, no one knew we were out of bounds, and now we were going to make it to the top so we could ski down the other side of the mountain and see our families again. Hallelujah!

As I poled my way toward the lift, Mike tried to jump on quickly, but in his haste, lost his balance and fell off immediately. As he collected his equipment and put it on again, Jacques hopped on to the next one. Nearing a fear-induced coronary, I eventually made it to the line. Just as I was hopping on, Mike clicked into his ski and made a leap in from the side to join me on my chair before it ascended. He just made it, but he knocked me off in the process. In a desperate panic, I gathered myself, reassembled my skis and poles, and climbed safely on a chair.

And that is how we rode: Jacques way up ahead, then Mike in the middle, me in the distant rear. We could hear each other by shouting, but no one was in the mood for banter at that point. After all of the drama, at last we were on our way to safety.

And then, the lift stopped dead.

My heart felt like it stopped right with it. It was my worst nightmare. Gripped by fear, we all started shouting for help, hoping desperately that someone on top of the mountain—someone far out of our sight—would hear our calls and start the chair again. We yelled and yelled, but nothing happened. The chairs just sat there, dangling from their cable high above the ground. I was in shock and disbelief. Could we make it through the night in the cold? What if I fell asleep up there and slipped off? Might the Ski Patrol make a final sweep of the mountain and rescue us? Were we going to be banned or arrested? The only certainty seemed to be that if we survived, our parents were going to kill us.

When we finally gave up our shouting, there was an eerie silence over the mammoth mountainside. Not a soul in sight except for Jacques and Mike, a couple of kids dangling high in the air above the frozen earth. Trapped. I felt so small and powerless. And afraid. I was really, really afraid.

As I poured over the dangers in my mind and prepared to settle in for the toughest night of my life, Mike, ever the impulsive one, yelled that he was going to jump. Jump??? He was the highest up of any of us, and it was absolutely the worst idea ever. Even with all of these years to think about this, I am still fairly certain that he would have been killed by the fall. At the very least, he would have broken both of his legs and other bones in the fall (with skis and ski boots on, remember). I looked on in horror as he let go of his poles, imagining him about to take the same long, slow fall to the hardened snow far below. He turned sideways on his chair, shimmied one leg and cheek off the edge, and…..

The chair started moving.

I heard the breath finally come out of my lungs. My friend’s life had just been saved, and we were going to get to the top of the mountain that day! Relief does not even begin to describe what I felt. Of course, I was still scared to death of the consequences facing us at the top of the mountain from the resort staff, and at the bottom of the mountain from my parents. But that was so much better than the fear of seeing my friend jump to his death or freezing on a chairlift all night. I learned on that fear-filled day that there are degrees of awful.

As it turned out, we got off easy on all fronts. The lift operators stopped the lift three times before I finally touched the ground—once before each one of us got off at the top so each guy could dangle there one last time and be bawled out individually before they set us free. None of us said a word as we skied down the other side of the mountain. When we finally made it to the lodge at the bottom, we found our parents in their usual spot at the bar, having hardly noticed that we were late.

My nerves were shot. My body was all knots. I was traumatized. As I listened to Jacques and Mike re-tell our tale later that night to our older siblings, I was amazed at how they were able to make it sound like a fun adventure that they would happily repeat. Their bravado astounded me. It was just another great story in their growing catalog of daring-dos. Not me. The thought of getting into more trouble or risking my life only brought back all the feelings I had lived through that day. I don’t need any more memories like that. That one has never stopped haunting me.

How about you? What scares you most in this world? Open up your journal and your memory bank, and write about your most frightening life experiences. Which events jump out at you? Are they from childhood or adulthood? Are the details vivid in your memory, or do you just remember being very scared at the time? What are your big ones? Physical pain? Punishment, like my fear of the principal? Heights? Snakes or bugs? Dogs? Confined spaces? How do you do with horror movies? How much of our fear is innate and how much do we develop through negative experiences, especially as children? Overall, how much of a scaredy-cat are you? Do you wish you were more or less fearful? Can you think of times when your fear has helped you? Is fear mostly a waste of energy, like worry? Like most things in life, it’s complicated and different for all of us. How does it fit into your life story, both past and present? Leave me a response and let me know, What was your scariest day? 

Own your story,


P.S. If my story made you think of your story, share them both with someone. Boo!

Shy, Humble, or Totally Afraid?

IMG_1811“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” –Ambrose Redmoon

Hello friend,

I am an introvert. I never realized this critical fact while I was a child, or even as a young adult. I had friends. I socialized. To be shy seemed like a thing for “nerds” and the otherwise socially impaired. It never occurred to me that I might be shy or introverted. Never. As with everything else up through those years, I saw myself as having the characteristics that everyone else expected me to have. Shy was not one of those characteristics.

As I got into my twenties, found my voice, and struck out on my own, I started spending time alone for the first time in my life. Whether it was camping out in the mountains or navigating the anonymity of big city living, I came to know what it was like to keep mostly my own company. Before I knew it, I had grown to like being alone. It wasn’t long before I preferred it, even. Finally, I started demanding it. I roadtripped solo up the coast, hiked the mountains of Montana, and wandered for months across Europe, hardly speaking to anyone along the way.

I felt myself growing and thriving more than I ever had in my more social years. I loved solitude. I craved it. I also recognized that it was in solitude that my battery was recharged. It was in solitude that I built up my reserve to “act normal” in social situations, something I had never been aware of or had to work at before. In this realization, I was claiming my natural introversion.

Most of the jobs I have worked in my life have involved being “on” in public and speaking with groups big and small. I have had to teach, inspire, console, and take entrée orders. I laugh now about this with the realization of my introverted nature. I guess I needed all the alone time outside of work to charge my battery for the stage of work!

The other part about my past jobs—or at least the way I played them—is that in all of their social-ness, I rarely had to really put myself out there. I didn’t talk about myself much, because, whether it was educating someone who came to be educated or serving someone who came to be served, the unspoken expectation was that I should make it about the student/customer/person paying my rent. I find that people who do best in service industries have a way of making the client feel as though you are friends even as the focus is almost exclusively the client’s wants and needs. The service provider has to be present and empathetic to the client’s concerns and their story, but the client doesn’t need to reciprocate. For me, this worked into my personality just fine. Some of it played into my introversion, but there was more to it than that. I liked to think of it as me just being humble, neither requiring the spotlight nor thinking my feelings and my story to be worthy of the client’s time and attention. I didn’t want to impose upon them.

This is also why I was never a good salesman of my services. For many, many years, it was my job—in theory—to sell tennis lessons. I can honestly say that I don’t think I ever tried to sell anyone a lesson in all of those years. I figured that the benefits would speak for themselves and that I didn’t need to impose my will on anyone else. I especially didn’t like the idea of putting someone in the awkward position of having to say, “No, I don’t want your services.” I know that for most people, it is difficult to say no to a direct offer, and I never wanted to make anyone uncomfortable. So, in my combination of self-professed shyness and humility, I never sold my services or my story. I never asked anyone to believe in me or how my product could benefit them.

Fast-forward to now and the two businesses I have just jumped into: Life Coaching and skin care consulting. From one perspective, both are right up my alley. They fit with my mission of helping people to gain more confidence and lead more fulfilling lives. I get to work with people individually and get to make a positive impact on them. I get to make a difference. Perfect! Oh wait, I forgot to mention the other perspective. Both involve extensive networking and self-promotion. I have to ask people to take some time and listen to me. I have to share with them how my services and products can be of great benefit to them. I have to put them on that spot that I have spent my whole life NOT putting people on: The Are-You-Interested-In-Me? Spot. Ugh!!!

So of course, I am in a bit of a panic. Network marketing and self-promotion seem completely antithetical to all that I am. I have spent years justifying myself by clinging to, “I’m an introvert” and “I’m humble.” But, as the reality of these two self-chosen businesses settles in, I am beginning to feel those two comfortable, sympathetic sentiments be bowled over by what may be my greater truth: I am scared.   Scared to put myself out there. Scared to not do it well enough. Scared of making people feel awkward. But mostly, I am scared of rejection and failure. What if no one wants my help? What if they tell me I am not worth their time and money? What if my calling is something that no one answers to? What if I have to reset my dreams again? What if I am not as great as I believe I am? What if I have been fooling myself? What if…..?

I have had a lot of these thoughts in recent days as I try to gather the courage to announce myself. It is why Redmoon’s quote at the top resonates with me. In my strongest moments, I can see clearly that the difference I can make in someone’s life is worth acting on. Despite my introversion. Despite my humility. And, most importantly, despite my fear. Helping someone live the life of their dreams through my Life Coaching practice, or helping someone like what they see in the mirror for the first time through my skin care products—these things are more important than my fear. I am going to do my best to remember that and to be courageous. Will it still be awkward for me? Absolutely! Will I still need to go home at the end of the day and be alone to recharge? Sure. And will I still be afraid of rejection and failure? Almost certainly. But I am going to choose to follow that fear, to face it and conquer it, buoyed by a courage borne of a belief in a greater good. I am ready!

How about you? How willing are you to tell your story and share your importance? Open up your journal and do a little self-psychoanalysis. Where do you land on the introversion-extroversion or shy-outgoing spectrum? Has your position changed as you have aged or stayed pretty steady? Do you like to talk about yourself? When something new happens in your world, how willing are you to share it? Are you comfortable sharing it face-to-face and over the phone, or do you only share things in the relative anonymity of Facebook or other social media? How humble are you? How much of a part does that humility play in your willingness to tell your story or advertise your value? Is humility in this case just a cover for insecurity and fear? How about that fear? When you think about sharing your new ventures with people, to what degree does fear take you over? Beyond just sharing, how fearful are you of selling your skills or products to others? Is it more or less scary to sell to strangers? How much does fear paralyze you? I think that for most people, the answer is “A ton!” So, don’t be afraid to admit it. It’s your journal, so honesty is the only rule. Finally, what is important enough to you to face your fear and find the courage to act, to put yourself out there, to take the risk of rejection and failure? What in your life is worth it? Leave me a reply and let me know: What are you courageous enough to share?

Do something that scares you today,