RobinOur neighbourhood is atwitter (sorry) with robins this spring. One scurried along the sidewalk ahead of me the other day, tiny legs flashing, just edging out of my way.

“Why would you walk when you can fly?” I wondered.

It suddenly hit me that we could ask ourselves the same thing.

Why would we keep scurrying along doing something (a dead-end job, working at something that feels meaningless, hitting our heads against the brick wall of a failed relationship) when we secretly yearn to fly — to leave that job, to follow a passion, to look for that special someone, to do something completely different?

I wrote recently about fear holding us back from success, and by coincidence (or maybe it’s the “recency illusion”) have run into the same message in different places:

  • Louise Penny wanted to be a writer, but was afraid of trying and failing. In an interview with Criminal Element, she talks about why she finally acted, which led to her success as the author of a series of mysteries featuring Chief Superintendent Armand Gamache of the Québec police.
    “I didn’t want to reach the end of my days regretting never having tried the one thing that I’d always dreamed of doing out of fear.”
  • A Forbes article by executive coach Bonnie Marcus asks, “What would your career be like if you weren’t afraid?” She suggests that to reach our full potential, we have to overcome both our fear of failure and our fear of success, and shares five exercises to do so.
    “When you fear failure, you stay small. You don’t speak up because it might not be the right thing to say. You don’t volunteer for high profile projects because people may discover you don’t add value…But when you are successful, you are headed for unknown territory. Everything may change and that’s scary. It’s more comforting to stay mediocre and stay in your comfort zone and that’s where this fear trips you up.
  • Daphne Gray-Grant talks about the imposter syndrome, a term coined in 1978 by two clinical psychologists. She lists four strategies for overcoming imposter syndrome, including simply recognizing that it’s a common part of life.
    “Those exhibiting the syndrome — despite all evidence of their great competence — remain convinced that they are frauds and don’t deserve the success they’ve achieved.”
  • Writing coach Ed Gandia shares an article in The Atlantic that pointed out confidence matters as much as competence. It said women often hold back when presented with a big opportunity unless they meet 100% of the qualifications, whereas men are happy to apply if they can meet 60% of the job requirements. Ed’s lesson:
    “Ten years from today, you’re going to look back at today and wonder why you didn’t take more chances. You’ll be sorry that you didn’t go for it, even if you didn’t feel 100% ready at the time. You’ll never be fully ready for everything in this business. And if you wait until you feel 100% ready, you’ll flounder.”

Are you walking? Or are you ready to fly?

Photo by “fallingleaveswoodworks” on Pixabay.