Getting Out of The Box: How I Get Over the Fear

“Step outside of the box.”

“Think outside the box.”

“Break outside the box.”

This little box must be made of some extremely durable substance because the entire world is either living it or trying to get out of it! No, seriously. I am not joking. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard these expressions about this box. Darn it, I have even said them many times. The funny thing is that it is always “the box” not “your” box, but I digress. It is very true that I need to “step out of the box” some more but I was wondering, can I bring the box with me? I mean the box has done so much for me in my life; its walls acted as a sturdy pillar as I tried to walk before I could crawl and it protected me from the elements (society) when I was not strong enough to brave it. Thanks to the box, I was able to grow and develop the skills I needed to survive once outside the box.

Some of our boxes are different sizes because some of us need more room to grow into the “element” fighting beast that we need to be. Then the time comes when the box has given us all that it can, and at that time and not a minute sooner, we should leave the box. Time is everything and leaving the box too soon might mean we are under-developed and too weak to sustain ourselves outside the box. See, that’s why I want to bring the box with me!

Don’t get me wrong, I believe we need to get our booties out of that box. However, that can be a scary task. Sometimes I am afraid to leave the box because I question whether I am ready to tackle the dream before me. Sometimes the fear is in wondering if leaving the box means that I won’t have anything to fall back on. So, I decided to think of it this way: take everything I need out the box, place the contents in an air tight container, step out of the box, and then say goodbye to the box. Genius! This way I figure that I am solving the problem of living as an oversize giant in a tiny box and the problem of worrying that I have the essential tools I need along the journey. With the goodies that make me strong and competent safely tucked away, I may pull them out whenever I feel I need to rest, regroup, and remind myself that I have already been nurtured to accomplish the task ahead. I don’t know about you, but envisioning that I can take everything with me that “made me” makes getting out the box less intimidating. Maybe it is all a placebo, but whatever, it is working and I am stepping outside of the box… and that’s all that matters.

The Danger of Doing Nothing

Multiplying By Zero This is a simple math inspired post that reveals a simple life lesson. Remember when you learned that anything multiplied by zero equals zero? Exactly. If you do nothing, you will get nothing. Small steps, large steps, new action, or old actions repeated; whatever it is, just do something. You will never get where you want to be by doing nothing.

Nothing multiplied by the greatest dream still equals ZERO.

And you thought that everything you learned in school was a waste of time.

Taste the Rainbow

So, I was asked one of the most popular questions ever asked among ambitious people – “so what’s the next move?”

This is a question often discussed among people that are either (1) in a successful career but working on promotion or (2) among those that are working in one area but have outstanding desires and goals they still wish to pursue. Wait, actually, I am sure that at one point or another everyone is asked this question. Well, someone recently shared the thought that people who have many different talents and interested can sometimes feel exactly like people who have no idea what they want to do in life. This actually made perfect sense, because usually when a talented person has to answer the “what’s next” question, the greatest challenge is not in what they want to do, but rather when to do it or how to do it. This can often be as paralyzing as not knowing what step to take at all.

Often times, when giving advice to the clueless person, we will tell them to just try different things until they figure out what direction they want to move in. I wonder if the same principle can apply to the successful career-driven person who wants to accomplish more but is just waiting for the right time, finances, or courage. As someone very similar to the latter person, I believe that the same concept can apply. For one reason or the other, we may not be sure which plan we should pursue next, but we know we are ready to make the next move. I say, just like going to an ice cream store, taste test all those interests, decide which one you prefer to eat at that moment, put the others down, index that ice cream store, and once you finish eating your choice of the day, come back another day and eat another flavor. Just like ice cream, you really can have it all, maybe just not at one time. So for the ambitious and the stagnant alike, walk into that figurative ice cream store, choose one (or two or three) ice cream flavors to begin, and before you know it, you will have tasted and done it all.

Let Me Fly

I think they were afraid to let me fly – scared that if I left the ground it would expose their inner fear of leaving the ground. My flight would expose the fact that they were actually the ones that were supposed to teach me how to fly, but for one reason or the other, they could never leave the ground.

As life passed there was this voice inside that always told me that I was meant to fly – even nudging me toward the edge, daring me to take flight. Second guessing, listening, asking around, and running this “fly” things by friends, I wondered if maybe it was just gas or something I ate, or better yet, the introjection of someone else’s dream. Until I realized that the voice inside never quieted, and as much as I tried to silence it away, “fly, fly, fly” was always in the back of the head. As I got older, I could see more and more people in the distance leaving the ground, some even soaring so high they looked like ants with wings – and higher they flew until they disappeared.

Realizing that I still had time and the desire to fly, I stood, looked and day-dreamed, finding inspiration in all those that ever left the ground. Still hesitant about what I might be leaving behind and about what fantasies I might fail to find out there in open space, I still did not leave the ground. Then, one day they returned with stories of what it feels like to fly and of what the world looks like from the sky. They said, “all those mountains seem so small from way up there. Come on, just try it…fly.” Since I figured that gravity was created as an invisible leash to always help me find my way back home, I said “screw it,” and turned to all those people whispering warnings in my ear and said “excuse me while I fly.”

11 Questions to Help Clear Your Vision

Sometimes our vision can become cloudy without us even realizing it. Most days I wear contact lenses, but over the weekend I wanted to give my eyes a rest, so I threw my eyeglasses on. After about five hours of moving around my house, I noticed some dust particles starting to stick to the lenses on my glasses. Honestly, the only reason I noticed the specks was because the glasses almost fell off my nose as I bent over to set up my television for my Breaking Bad marathon. The dust wasn’t really bothering me, but I knew cleaning them was the right thing to do, so cleaning it was.

After mounting them back onto my nose with certain clearer vision, it dawned on me how important it must be to deliberately clear our vision in life as well. I started to wonder how clouded our vision must becomes over time from experience, people, emotional debris, and secondhand mental pollution. Vision = what we desire, what we believe, what we accept, and what we seek to reproduce. For the most part, what we believe, think, and desire are partially results of what we see, with hearing being the other culprit sense. The real danger lies in the fact that we might not be aware of how clouded our personal vision has become. Certainly it was not until I cleaned my glasses and noticed the marked difference in clarity that I became more aware of my blurred sight.

As we move forward in life and this year, do not forget to take the time to periodically clear your vision, whether daily, weekly, or monthly. One general way to evaluate clarity is by checking your life. Most times, our thoughts and intentions are reflected through our lives, through the people we choose to surround ourselves with, and by our overall productivity. Vision may not be completely adjusted overnight, but checking, evaluating, and realigning it (if necessary) usually does not hurt.

Questions to Help Clear Your Vision:

1. Are your relationships healthy?

2. Are you happy with how you spend most of your time?

3. Who are you listening to?

4. In what ways are you allowing society and those around you to influence your actions and life?

5. On an average day, are you thinking more positive thoughts than negative ones?

6. Do you know what you believe and are you confident in what you believe?

7. Are you as confident in yourself as you should be?

8. Do you have an idea of your next steps in life, whether small or large?

9. What is holding you back or weigh you down?

10. Are you healed from past negative experiences?

11. Are you happy?

A Thought on Fear

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” ― John Lennon

“What would you do it you weren’t afraid?” I’ve heard this question one too many times in life already. So many times that I’ve reached the point that when I’ve been “afraid” or fearful of something, I think something is wrong with me! I’m sure that I’m not the only out there in the world that feels this way. I look at other people figuratively walking on tightropes across canyons and wonder what they did to eliminate fear! They must have some special secret…

All this time, I think I should have been taught how to live WITH fear instead of how to avoid it. You see, I have come to realize that EVERYONE has fear or is fearful of something, but what separates those that walk out on the rope from those that become overwhelmed is the genuine acceptance the fear exist but does not have to dominate our actions. In the spirit of Jillian Michaels, they feel the fear and do it anyway. Life becomes a transformation from fear to action-oriented adrenaline. The “fearless” sense the fear but keep moving forward, while those dominated by fear sense the fear and STOP to think about it, which eventually turns into delayed action or complete inaction. I guess John Lennon is saying that we should love ourselves enough to believe that we are bigger than our fears and to believe that we are more capable than our scariest nightmare leads us to believe.

GPS: Shut Up and Fly

On a street stands a girl from a big city, with great dreams, huge wings, and a warped sense of what it means to fly. She stands at the bottom of a tall building enthusiastically determined to reach the top and roam throughout the skies as if there’s a world to discover in limited time. She reaches the top of the building, breeze gently calming the fears of what might happen if she falls off the edge.

Confidently ready to soar, backpack filled and wings outstretched, she begins approaching the edge. Suddenly, yards before her feet are supposed to leave the ground, she abruptly stops. “Where am I going? What if I am not supposed to go there? What if I make a wrong turn along the way and end up someplace I was never supposed to be?” After minutes of what seems like forever, she hesitantly sits down in one of the chairs left over from what seemed like a roof-top party. She refuses to go back down to the street-level, and is too overwhelmed, confused, and nervous to fly, so she decides to stay on the roof until she has a well-thought-out plan and route.

Well-intentioned, the girl spent more time in that chair than she originally anticipated and worried if her decisions were going to lead her in the right direction. If you put a bullhorn to her head, you would hear her thoughts resounding like a tape stuck on repeat.

After time had passed and the girl had questioned herself, life, and her journey to the point where even her questions started asking for a rest, she heard a voice say “shut up and fly.” It was the GPS system someone or something had placed on the back of her right wing.

“Listen, in this life, you are supposed to fly,” says the GPS. “And yes, you may make a few flippin’ wrong turns along the way, but you know what? There are multiple routes to the same destination. “If you would just listen carefully enough, you will hear me say “recalculating route. Even if you “go it alone” and get lost, just turn me on and we can start flying from the dreaded land of the lost. Granted, it may take you longer, but you WILL arrive at your destination. So, that being said, can we go now? I mean my gosh, SHUT UP and FLY!”

Still shaken from the unexpected voice and her body’s fight-or-flight still in high gear, she stepped back, ran toward the edge, and took off like a bird that had been caged for far too long.

The “Don’t Talk About It, Be About it” Challenge

I’M BACK! It has been a little over a month since my last post. The absence started off with my need to focus on a major deadline, then there was a week or two of physical and emotional fatigue, and then there were a few days of decision-making! Nevertheless, I am back and here to stay for a while…

After I met my deadline, I felt a sense of accomplishment… and then I immediately started to get worked up about my next steps, how I am going to accomplish “this” and “that,” how “this” mistake might effect “that” and blah, blah, blah, on and on. Unfortunately, my work environment has been quite negative for the past year or so which has resulted in many conversations about whether people should stay or leave. Naturally, many of my close colleagues and friends, have constantly been asking me what my plans are and where I see myself in the next coming years. So, I found myself having conversations about my future, my dreams, and my concerns, doubts, and fears, at least once a day. I started to find that all these conversations were actually creating more confusion. But more importantly, I realized that if I laid out my plans TOO vividly to too many people, that (1) they may not be able to understand my goals, in which case I will find myself having to defend my decisions, (2) they will question me if I change my mind and decide on a new path later on, which means 5,000 conversations explaining why, how, and when all over again, and (3) that I was actually WASTING valuable time explaining what I was doing with MY life rather than spending valuable time doing something to actually meet my goal. An hour here, a half-hour there, talking about what I’m going to do and 5 minutes, 20 minutes, and an hour on actually moving toward it.

So, two weeks ago, after around the 50th person asked me what I’m doing about work and life, I told myself to shut up.

THE CHALLENGE: We often spend so much time talking about what we want to do and then making excuses when it doesn’t happen or when we get distracted from making it happen. Yes, it is important to articulate your goals and ambitions to a select group of people for accountability purposes, but sometimes you just need to shut up, stop talking about it, and do the darn thing. Well, at least I do.

So, I have challenged myself to not explain, describe, defend, or discuss (I am aware that many of those words mean the same thing, but I need to emphasis it for myself) my goals for at least THREE MONTHS, but instead spend that time putting in some serious work toward meeting those goals. You see, “Don’t Talk about It, Be about It” requires some “being about it!” You can’t just be quiet, sit and think, sacrifice time with family and friends just to accomplish nothing. So, if you would like to join me in this challenge of DOING IT versus SAYING IT, let me know so that we can encourage each other in our “silent” active efforts.

Who knows, I might just keep this challenge going until I actually accomplish my next goal, which is……… Ha, you thought I forgot.

Don’t believe me? Just watch.

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