Something I hear a lot is “be fearless”; usually in the context of personal development. There are numerous articles on how to become fearless and how people who are fearless are those who succeed and reach their full potential. I understand the premise of it, but I’m not a big fan of the phrase.
To be fearless is to lack fear, or have the absence of fear.
When we say to be ‘fearless’ there are two meanings that come to mind. The first is to send the message that we should do things that don’t cause fear. This would mean that we only ever stay within our comfort zone and progress would be nowhere to be found – I don’t get the sense that this is what most of the articles are advocating for. What’s more likely is the second possibility, where the message is that we should be doing big, exciting things, but we should not feel the fear while doing them; that we should somehow be able to simply deactivate any kind of fear response when we make a bold move.
Fear is natural. Fear tells us we’re about to step into the unknown and step out of our comfort zone. That is a good thing! Furthermore, some of us are more prone to feeling fear in the face of risks and big decisions, and that is okay. In fact, to see someone make a big decision or achieve success and call them ‘fearless’ can be doing a disservice by not acknowledging the courage it takes to overcome their fear and make those big decisions, while simultaneously putting a false expectation on yourself that you should be able to be fearless too.
Personally, every big decision I’ve made has had some underlying fear; everything from buying our house, to taking coaching courses, even starting this blog. All of those decisions were huge steps forward for me, but they were also outside of my comfort zone and risk-taking can be scary.
We don’t need to be told that our fear isn’t valid, or that we shouldn’t feel it – that we should be “fearless”.
What if, instead of expecting ourselves to not feel any fear in the pursuit of our goals and dreams, we change our mindset to one of accepting the fear and pursuing those dreams anyways?
Let’s practice compassion and teach people to feel the fear and move forward anyways because so much of progress is on the other side of our fear.