Allow or Defend: The Choice is Yours
I met a friend yesterday for a short little catch up and chat. We sat on a beautiful porch looking out at the city and shared with each other our plans and holiday stories. I began telling her about this concept I learned recently of being on the “defense”. The concept is that any time we go into a place of “defending’’ we are asking for a war. This wasn’t a new philosophy for me, as I have learned firsthand that force is not the way to get what you want, allowing always leads to a better outcome. However, it’s a lesson I find myself re-learning every single day.
In our discussion we went a bit deeper, trying to analyze the difference between trust and fear. We both shared stories of our own friction, those times in life when you were so challenged or so knocked down that it changed you. We wondered about people who haven’t faced those types of challenges, who haven’t been lost on the New York subway in the middle of the night, heartbroken over a loss or publicly humiliated for a mistake by a boss in a conference room full of people. We wondered about those people that never left their hometowns or ventured anywhere new or to a place where they didn’t know the language.
I started telling her about my desire for adventure. “I love the feeling of getting to a new city and not knowing anyone. I love what it forces you to do, how it makes you more curious. I can remember so many very magical moments in the cities I have lived in. Where just being alive in that place leads to more life. You meet strangers, they change your life. You have an interaction at a bar, you make a life-long friend. I want that to be my life. I want more of that, every single day. I want that to be my kids normal.”
Lately I have had a lot of messages from others about stability. My friends tell me how proud they are that I have stayed in one place for awhile. They tell me that this is growth. I agree that I have grown. I agree that my goldilocks twenties were a combination of fearlessness and running. I am actually pretty happy with my choices from that time. I have stories I will tell my grandchildren that will make their eyes light up and I have a global family that I wouldn’t know without my journey around the world. I also really appreciate loving my home, and returning to a place that is familiar. I like knowing my mail delivery person and waving at the same walker each morning on my morning walk.
I wondered if there was a way to get adventure where you are. How do you create adventure within stability? How do I get that magical feeling I felt in New York City in this little neighborhood where everything is familiar and stable?
Then I flipped the question. Why do I have to do that? Why do I have to listen to these other people about what stability means and what growth looks like? Don’t I know? Don’t I have a better, if not the best idea of what I need and want for my life and whether it is right? Haven’t I taken all of these chances and gone outside my comfort zone on purpose?
She watched me and listened, and then like every great friend I have ever had, she looked at me and asked, “So what are you waiting for?”.
And then the tears. You can always rely on the beautiful billowing tears to arrive when you are in deep contemplation with people you love.
“I am afraid. And I know that means I should do it, but I am so afraid, in a way I have never been before.” I said.
“What are you afraid of?”
“That I am wrong. That my heart is wrong. I have no data confirming what my heart believes.”
“When has your heart ever been wrong in the past?” she asked.
I laughed for awhile. My rational brain can list one thousand ways my heart has been wrong. It can play a really epic and dramatic movie of the heartbreak and the let downs and the loneliness. It has a lot of memories to back up all of the ways my heart has led us into pain and suffering. The emotions of that movie are right at the surface ready to expose themselves.
“Do you mean when has my heart led me into danger?” I asked.
“Never. It has led me to loss and pain. But within all of that are experiences that were wonderful, and magical and life changing, experiences that have made me who I am. They have brought me to this porch and to this conversation with you. Most of my pain, actually, was caused by the fear of other people and by me not trusting myself.”
“So what’s the problem”
“I’m going to say something that is coming up for me and you might not like it. But how can you expect other people to not be afraid if you are afraid? You can’t bring fear to someone else’s doorstep and expect them to console you.”
“Damn it.” I replied.
“So what are you waiting for?” she asked again.
“Nothing. I know my heart is right, and even if I do this and it doesn’t work out exactly as I believe it should, it will still lead me to the right next thing.” I replied. “In the past I have never hesitated, I just went and believed that the rest of the things that are necessary for my success would follow. Not doing this is me pausing my life,“ I said, shaking.
“Then it sounds like to me your heart knows exactly what you need to do,” she said with a smile.
“I know, but I am still deathly afraid,” I laughed.
Here’s what I know to be true. The questions we are asking ourselves are very important. In my early days of life I asked questions like; “What is possible?” and “why not?” and “why not me?”. As I get older and the scars multiply, the questions shift to defense questions, defense questions against the world and they are a lot more like this; “Well what if it doesn’t work out?” and “What if I get it all wrong? Or, “what if they think I am crazy or that my idea is stupid?”.
When did we decide that being on the defense against the world was the way to be? When did we decide that it is better to live on the defense than to be water and let the current take us on a journey?
Listen, here I am telling you how scared I am. I was scared when I moved to NYC. I was scared when I interviewed for that job at Lionsgate. I was scared when I told people in Chicago I knew how to manage millions of dollars but never had. I was scared when I went back to school. I was scared when I made my first website and told people I was a coach. I was scared when I met the Governor and asked him for money. I was scared when I hosted the most successful producer in Hollywood at an event and sold him on an idea. I am constantly afraid. However, it always works out! I’ve landed the job, managed the budget, sold the idea. I am starting to believe that we just are going to be afraid, all of the f*ing time. So why not do what we want anyway? Why not choose the adventurous life and the scary big life rather than sit in our fear and drink more wine to cope?
When you shift from defending against the world to an openness to the world, to trusting the world, you welcome in possibilities you can’t even begin to imagine. Defending is hands up ready and waiting for a fight, allowing is arms wide open ready to welcome what is yours. However, it is so very important that when you choose to trust, that you have people around you that can trust too. If you are surrounded by people that are afraid, that constantly tell you what could go wrong, who make you doubt that you should try, you will remain where you are. Who you surround yourself with matters. The questions they ask, matter.
I wouldn’t be a good coach if I didn’t fear and take action anyway. So you better believe I am choosing to trust with arms wide open. How long are we going to punish ourselves for things we cannot change?
My exercise for you to day is to take one action. One itty bitty action. Just do it. Just pull the trigger. I don’t care how afraid you are. I don’t care how many reasons in the world there are to not do the thing. I don’t care about your fear data. Just open your arms and welcome what is yours. Be water. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of “being water” make your one action today reading this.
Looking to up-level who you spend time with? Seeking a partner to help you combat fear and believe in yourself? I’d love to help. Schedule a consult and let’s see what’s possible.