Do us a Favor: Lean into the Fear

Originally published on 8/20/2017 by It's Your Turn, an unofficial publication of the altMBA alumni.

I just completed* Seth Godin’s altMBA four week program. The thing is, I never thought I would get accepted. The voices in my head - that incessant lizard brain - could come up with plenty of reasons why. Even once I did get accepted, there were plenty of reasons they told me as to why I wasn’t qualified. Yet here I am.

What happened?

It would be easy to say that as I eased my way into the program, as I felt more comfortable, the fear disappeared. Sometimes we do fear what the future holds only to discover there wasn’t all that much to be afraid of. But that’s not what happened here. There was never a moment during the program where I felt absent of fear. I still feel afraid right now, writing publicly for the first time since finishing the course.

So, what happened?

The fear didn’t change - I changed. The fear is still there, as real as ever. But that old invisible wall I used to build brick by brick inside my own mind whenever fear presented itself, holding me back from pressing forward, is missing. Now the fear remains, I simply press forward anyways.

It’s true that the altMBA created the context for me to learn how to approach fear differently, but completing the program is not a requirement to learn what it teaches. In fact, if all you do is internalize down to your core the mantra of the altMBA, you’ll be off to a great start..

Do the hard part first. Seek out emotional labor. Dance with fear.

Do the hard part first |

There’s nothing here that suggests that pushing past the fear is easy. We know it’s hard. That’s why it’s so important to start with the hard part first. Let’s stop giving ourselves an out, and instead embrace that thing we’ve been avoiding.

Seek out emotional labor |

This is the tension. This is intentionally taking a posture of generosity, thereby giving the best of ourselves away to the world with no demand for a personal return. Because we know that the credit is not the point. Generosity is a reward far greater than any amount of credit.

Dance with fear |

That hard part that comes first? Often it’s our own fear. Eradicating our fear is a losing battle, one we fall prey to more than we care to admit. But fear doesn’t have to be a threat, it can be an opportunity. If only we’re willing to dance.

Fear is an opportunity. The hard work is seeing it that way. Before the altMBA, I did not. Now, I do. Now I see the link between fear and generosity - one that has always existed, but I never looked for it before. Fear is, perhaps, our greatest opportunity for generosity. To embrace the terror welling up inside of ourselves and to press on anyway, sharing our very best with the world despite our vulnerable state - is there a more generous act?

Because of the altMBA, I see the world differently. I would caution, though, to not assume completing the program will get you the result. It is a course designed for highly motivated people who want to level up. It’s not for everyone. But the skills it teaches are. Far more important than the program itself is what it taught me: the only thing standing between us and leveling up is fear.

Threat, or opportunity? You decide.

_____________________________________

Footnotes:

*= “completed” feels more appropriate than “finished”. As anyone who has been through the program would tell you that we’re never finished..