Have you ever been so scared you lost your lunch?
After serving as managing editor of SUCCESS magazine for about a month, I got my first big interview opportunity: legendary boxer and entrepreneur George Foreman.
I was beside myself with joy--I was a big fan. After pulling tons of research, sketching out my interview questions, and arranging to work from home on the day of the interview so no one would see how incredibly nervous I knew I would be, I felt ready.
Until about thirty minutes before he was scheduled to call.
The audio recorder and phone were on the table, and I was pacing the living room, shaking my hands out at the wrists in utter terror.
I had never spoken to someone with this level of distinction before. I hadn’t yet held one-on-one conversations with celebrities and uber-successful business owners. The intimidation I felt that day was alternately driving me into fits and paralyzing me in a ball on the sofa.
Then my stomach lurched. It was five minutes until the phone would ring, and I was about to lose my cookies.
I ran to the bathroom. Took a deep breath. Started to cry. Prayed. And then I remembered a piece of advice someone had once told me:
Do it afraid.
He said no matter how scared you are, your body will still do what you tell it to if you make the decision to act. Your mind will still function if you focus it on the goal and not the obstacle.
Fear tells you to give up. The choice is yours: You can walk away or you can do it afraid.
So I sat down at the table as the phone rang. I was still on the verge of being sick, but I answered, trembling and stuttering. After saying hello to George Foreman (!), I stumbled through my first question.
As he spoke in that deep, friendly voice, I calmed. I breathed. I focused on what he was saying instead of the fear in my gut.
Thirty minutes later, I hung up from one of the most memorable interviews of my life. Not only was Big George an awesome interview with lots of charisma and wisdom, but I had proved to myself that I was bigger than my fear.
Over the years, I’ve come to believe that this is often the one choice that most determines whether or not someone is successful, happy, and even healthy: When you’re afraid of the next step, do you choose to stay put or keep going?
If we can keep moving through the fear, we often find that not only are we bigger than our doubts, but we’re also supported in ways—both divine and human—that we didn’t realize before. Our faith increase in ourselves, in others, and in God. We learn to move forward in the same way that we used to close our eyes and plunge down the water slide, feeling fear hand-in-hand with faith.
The question I often ask myself in those moments when I’m frozen momentarily in fear is this: Which will I regret more—moving forward or staying put?
So what’s your choice today? Forward or frozen?
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