I’m pretty sure there’s a quote that goes something along these lines:
“Behind your greatest fear is your greatest opportunity.”
But I googled it and nothing came up.
Maybe the idea is too obvious to be quote-worthy?
Well, if the idea is obvious, the direction is not. Because I bet if I polled you and the other 5,345 or so other Consider This subscribers to ask, “What is your greatest fear in life?” almost none of you would be ready with a good answer.
Most of us are too scared to even dare to look in that direction.
We pull the sheets over our heads and comfort our egos by lying to ourselves, “I’m not that scared of [insert your greatest fear here], so I guess I don’t need to bother taking it on.” Instead, we “challenge” ourselves to confront little fears that lead to less meaningful treasures.
Pretty stupid, don’t you agree?
If your greatest opportunity is up and over Fear Mountain, wouldn’t it be a good idea to know, at the very least, what direction it’s in?
And maybe even start tiptoeing toward it?
What’s Your Greatest Fear?
I didn’t know either.
When a business coach named Josh Zimmerman asked me what I’m most scared of a while back, I blabbered and blabbered, hoping to sift something useful out of my verbal diarrhea. But no.
So Josh told me to think about it.
And I did. As I wrote here, I looked beyond death, past losing my independence, and over “shrinkage” to find the gargantuan fear that looms above everything:
The feeling of unfulfilled potential.
I’m terrified of investing tons of my precious time and energy into something that gets me nowhere.
Not the stuff of nightmares, I know. But here’s what makes this fear of mine especially nefarious (and ironic): Because I’m so terrified of dedicating myself to something that goes nowhere, I overthink things and… end up doing nothing at all. Thus, my greatest fear becomes a reality.
More Importantly, What Are You Going to Do About It?
Once I had finally put my fear of unfulfilled potential on the map, I accepted that I had to risk taking it on.
My first push in that direction was launching November to Remember, a group 30-day challenge I’m currently leading. I macheted aside worries about whether it was the “best” investment of my time and effort and pushed forward: I made a landing page, figured out how to take payments, researched the right community platform, wrote a newsletter to pitch it, and put it out into the wild.
Then I bit my fingernails as I refreshed my inbox and hoped for evidence that all my efforts were leading me toward the promised land.
Only four people signed up!
This made me darn near piss myself. Had all my efforts been so futile—not just in creating this November to Remember challenge but, even worse, in building up my Consider This newsletter?
But rather than give up and turn back or stop to overanalyze, I sucked it up and pushed harder. I asked friends what I’d done wrong, slathered my website with sign-up forms, and sent out more newsletters to recruit challengers to join me.
Twenty people eventually joined. This was still far fewer than I had expected, but it was progress: I’d sold my first online product, created my first community group, developed some basic technical skills, and discovered lots of things I suck at and can work on (notably, selling).
Looking back, these first steps to get over my Fear Mountain look a lot less significant than they did from below. But at least I have some progress to look back on.
And I’m ready for more.
I’m working behind the scenes on a big endeavor (by my standards, at least) that you’ll find out more about early next year—a new site, brand, and business model.
It’s a major investment of my time and energy. I’m worried that it won’t work out as well as I’d like. Based on previous experience, it probably won’t. But whatever happens, it’s better than living the life of a wimp.
What about you?
Silly Little 23-Second Summary
- 🦁 True courage. “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” – Franklin Roosevelt.
- 🗑 Scarier than death. “I don’t so much fear death as I do wasting life.” – Oliver Sacks.
- 🤷♂️ Accept your inferiority. Self-affirmation is saying things like “I can do it,” even when they’re beyond your ability, which brings about superiority complexes or living a lie. Self-acceptance is accepting you’re not fully capable and simply doing your best. (From The Courage to Be Disliked.)
- 🥊 Not so weak. “If we know our weaknesses then they stop being weaknesses.” – Mark Manson
About the author
I'm Chris. Canadian, husband, dad, writer, investor, athlete, and obsessed explorer of the secrets to living a never-boring, always improving, unfollowable life story.