For accessibility and ease, you can listen to this post narrated by Mike:
Over five years ago, I wrote a book, which was published in 2015. And, in that book, there’s an entire chapter dedicated to making friends with fear. To letting fear be an ally.
In it, I talked about doing the scariest thing you could think of. Choosing the scariest thing first. Because then, in comparison, nothing else is really all that bad.
And, fittingly, I signed up to go skydiving exactly one week before the manuscript was due to the publisher. I figured I better take my own advice. And do the scariest thing I can think of before I do something else terrifying.
This past weekend, I went skydiving for the second time, as part of the Free week of the Unique Genius Experiment. There wasn’t much more “freeing” than that in my mind, so I told some strangers in a Meetup group I wanted to go, and we all signed up.
Maybe it was the fact that I was going with strangers, or that it’d been five years—or, quite frankly, that I was jumping out of a plane again—but I was still just as nervous as I was the first time.
I was nervous as we watched the video and signed disclaimers acknowledging we could die. I was nervous as we were fitted into our gear and trained on how to exit the plane. I was nervous as we rode this propeller plane up 11,500 feet.
And then I got to the edge of the plane, looking down to see nothing but clouds. And I noticed—in the split second I had before the jump—that I wasn’t nervous. Nowhere in that moment or the subsequent free fall did I frantically rehearse the instructions again or ruminate about the fact that I was jumping out of a plane two miles in the air.
I couldn’t. I was too in the moment.
In all of those moments leading up to it, I felt the overwhelm as I projected myself into the future and every single scenario that could have happened. But in that moment, I was free.
I’ve been thinking about this in the day-and-a-half since that jump. How the uncertainty, the anticipation, leading up to the moment was filled with overwhelm, worry, and doubt. But the moment itself was pure, confident action.
We visionaries tend to be pretty good projectors. We do it all the time. We’re always projecting ourselves into possibilities that don’t quite yet exist. We can imagine what could be. We can see what isn’t yet physicalized.
It’s how we’re visionaries in the first place.
Whether we’re seeing a piece of art that hasn’t yet been brought to life. Or feeling called to create a new program. Or even waking up from a dream with a new idea in our minds—we are seeing visions everywhere.
So it makes sense that we project. And yet there’s a big difference between envisioning and taking action on that vision.
One exists in projection—in sending ourselves to another time or space or reality. To see a possibility that doesn’t yet exist.
And the other is right here in the present moment. Pulling that thing in and just getting to work.
Every time I feel overwhelmed, it’s because I’m imagining the million things I have to do in the future, but not all of which I can accomplish in the present moment.
And, of course, I’m overwhelmed. Not only am I projecting forward into all the things I’ll have to do way out there, but I’m now not in my body or the present moment—the space where I can even take action on any of it.
The danger in being a visionary is we’ve spent so much time dreaming up our visions that we can tend to live outside of the present moment where we’re able to take actions on those visions.
We become the perpetual dreamers. Head in the clouds and always hoping for these visions to come to life but never really taking consistent action towards them.
It was only when my head was literally in the clouds that I could see that it didn’t really matter what I had anticipated and worried about before. Because, as much as I’d imagined the vision, which got me to that moment, it was action that would send me out of that plane.
For me, the scariest part is always the unknown. It’s always the anticipation.
Whenever I start a new program, the period of recruitment always freaks me out. Because—if it is a big group, great, I’ll figure out how to run it. And, if it’s a small group, great, I’ll figure out how to run it (and make up the money, if I need to). But, when I’m still recruiting, I don’t know what it’ll be for sure, so I can’t yet take action.
It’s pure anticipation but not yet the moment where I can take action.
And the same goes for planning a vacation. Or proposing to Garrett. Or asking someone for a big favor.
The anticipation is a lot. And that’s where fear has a stronghold. Because, in the lead up, we’re not yet in the place of taking action. So we’re projecting ourselves into a future we can’t actually act on yet. Of course we’ll be freaked out about every worst-case scenario.
But then we’re in the middle of that crisis. Maybe our car breaks down. Maybe we’re in the middle of the hard run. Maybe everything’s going wrong on our vacation.
And we have to figure it out. One way or another, we’re there already. And our mind is too busy jumping into action to envision every possible problem.
We visionaries have an overdeveloped ability to envision. And, because of that, sometimes we rely more on visions than we do on taking action. And we get ourselves so freaked out with anticipation that we never end up really going for it, really testing out our theories.
Maybe we’ll fail. Taking action isn’t a foolproof plan. But, even with failure, at least it’s real. It’s alive. We can make adjustments and learn from it. We can face our fears in the first place.
Living in the vision means we only ever get to live in our heads. Bringing that vision to life means—good or bad—we get to experience it and share it with the world.
All we need to do is get ourselves to that edge of the plane. And maybe we’ll be envisioning the worst-case scenarios every step of the way until we get there. Maybe we’ll doubt ourselves and swear we can’t do this.
But the moment we get to the edge of the plane, all the fear just kind of subsides. Because all we can think about is how we’re actually going to do this. Now that we’re in the present moment to make it happen.
Without thinking too hard, we jump. We take action. We do the thing.
And, if we could do that, we could do anything.
Questions for Reflection:
*Answer in a journal, in the comments right here, or take it over to the Sacred Branding® Facebook group where we can support one another:
Are you afraid of and overwhelmed by your big visions?
— Do you frantically run through every potential challenge, hurdle, or doubt in your mind every time you want to step into a vision? Does the anticipation feel like the most challenging part—almost like it’s crippling to stay in the unknown? Do you ever feel overwhelmed by how much there is to do, and doubt you’re even capable?
— Are you afraid of some of your really big goals and visions? Do you feel like that fear is holding you back? And that something must be wrong with you, or maybe you’re not ‘courageous enough’?
— What if your struggles with anticipation, fear, and overwhelm are because you are a visionary? What if you are so used to envisioning the future that you sometimes underestimate the value of not thinking and simply taking action in the present moment? What if you only need to see your vision, bring yourself to the moment where you can take action, and then trust yourself to be able to take action when the moment is right?