Sunday, June 19, 2011

Facing (and Fearing)

Greatness appeals to the future. If I can be firm enough to-day to do right, and scorn eyes, I must have done so much right before as to defend me now. Be it how it will, do right now. Always scorn appearances, and you always may. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

It's so much easier to follow our mind.  The path is already clear before us, many others travel with you, and success is very clearly defined.  There is much on the line when one decides to follow their intuition.  You can never be quite sure where you'll end up,  Others, ignorant of the heart's journey, will look upon you with scorn in their eyes.  Lastly, you'll endure much of this alone.  For all of that, it's the path of the heart that makes people great.  

When the brain leads, your steps are ordered and planned.  You worry less because you can see the process.  The heart's method is less apparent because the path is veiled.  This obscurity will make some people freeze, losing faith in the heart's way.  The intuitive path asks that you see clearly and at the same time walk blindly; having the clarity to know when inaction is caused by waiting for the right moment/opportunity or fear and the faith to walk into the fog without knowing what lies beyond it.

The people I've met in life who follow their intuition seem to be more grounded.  Following your intuition is a process of revealing values.  Though the path you walk is uncertain, your concept of who you are gains focus.  Also, not knowing where you're headed forces one to rethink the concept of a good or bad situation and trains you to instead ask why you're there.  This critical look at experience helps one to see meaning in positive and negative situations and to remain stable in turbulent and calm times alike. 

Following your intuition is not for the faint of heart.  In my eyes, its designed to make us more resilient, capable of walking with others or alone with equal competence.  

Can you let go long enough to see what you can become?

Trusting intuition and making decisions based on it is the most important activity of the creative artist and entrepreneur. If you are facing (and fearing) a difficult life decision, ask yourself these three questions:

1) “What are the costs of inaction?” I find it can be helpful to fight fear with fear. Fears of acting are easily and immediately articulated by our “lizard brains” (thanks Seth) e.g. what if I fail? what if I look stupid? If you systematically and clearly list the main costs of inaction, they will generally overshadow your immediate fears.

2) “What kind of person do I want to be?” I’ve found this question to be extremely useful. I admire people who act bravely and decisively. I know the only way to join their ranks is to face decisions that scare me. By seeing my actions as a path to becoming something I admire, I am more likely to act and make the tough calls.

3) “In the event of failure, could I generate an alterative positive outcome?” Imagine yourself failing to an extreme. What could you learn or do in that situation to make it a positive experience? We are generally so committed to the results we seek at the outset of a task or project that we forget about all the incredible value and experience that comes from engaging the world proactively, learning, and improving our circumstances as we go along.

(Author: Dan Andrews)


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