Fear Can Be Paralyzing! Life Gives to the Giver Watching the Winter Olympics this year brought back a lot of memories. When we were little, my sister and I competed in downhill ski races in the winter, and we spent every weekend practicing, waking up at the crack of dawn to train. On one particularly cold day, I was about to race down the hill as usual, but the weather conditions had turned the hill into a sheet of ice. When it was my turn to go down the hill, I was paralyzed with fear. My dad was nearby, and he encouraged me to go for it. But I just knew that if I skied down, I would have a really bad run and probably wipe out, if not worse. My dad and I just about got into an argument, because I didn’t want to go down the hill, but he knew that I could do it. After a few frustrating minutes of going back and forth, I gave in. I began my descent down that icy hill. Afterward, I learned something that my dad obviously already knew: Fear can be paralyzing. Your mind will run away with the “what ifs” if you let it. What if I crash, what if I get hurt, and scariest of all, what if I fail? The reality is that only about 1 percent of the worst-case scenarios we imagine actually happen. Often, when we move past that paralyzing moment, we get to some of our greatest accomplishments. Downhill skiing isn’t the only time I’ve faced that paralyzing fear. Sometimes, you need to push yourself and embrace something that terrifies you in order to move forward. Maybe that something isn’t a ski hill; maybe it’s an idea. On my journey as a business owner, I’ve had to accept scary ideas to help me move past that fear and find a new outlook. One cold December night a few years after I’d started my company, I found myself sitting outside my first dry cleaning store, crying like a baby and wondering why I’d gotten into this business. The pipes in Did I wipe out? Did I get hurt? Did I make a fool of myself? Nope! Not one of those terrible endings I’d imagined happened. I was fine, and I ended up skiing a pretty good race.
the boiler room had frozen, and it was Christmas Eve. There were no stores open — not even Walmart — and I desperately needed to buy a heater to thaw out the frozen pipes. All I could do was wait until the next morning for the temperatures to climb above freezing. Most of the pipes burst and flooded out the store.
Like the water, the “what ifs” started flooding in: What if I lost my business? What if I went bankrupt? What if I lost everything I’d built?
That was such a low point that I almost wanted to give up.
But I didn’t, and not long after, in desperation, I bought some audio tapes that changed everything. One tape offered some sage wisdom that changed my entire outlook: “Life gives to the giver and takes from the taker.” When I heard that, I had a terrifying revelation. It was a revelation that was scarier than that ski hill as a kid and scarier than watching my store flood. I realized I was a taker, and I was only interested in myself.
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