I was lucky enough to be invited to an intimate dinner club in Melbourne hosted by the founders of a fabulous new dining app.
It was one of those well-curated events where the guests were all strangers one minute, and the next:
They were immersed in thought-provoking conversation.
The group comprised of community and business leaders, entrepreneurs at various stages of growth, investors, advisors, professionals, a food blogger, a very awesome yogi – and me:
– a blow-in from Sydney.
One of the conversation primers thrown into the group was:
“What did you have to give up, in order to be where you are now?”
As someone who has been on a journey to try and understand – and move past – my fear of failure, the answers intrigued me. A few of the guests revealed that:
“It depends on how you look at it. We’re effectively not giving anything up. We instead gain so much.”
I totally understand this mindset. But for me, that view didn’t resonate at all.
I cannot, hand on heart, say that I haven’t given anything up to pursue entrepreneurship.
Here’s the thing:
After a lot of soul searching, I have realised that success – for me – is being able to do work that I’m passionate about where I contribute to something other than myself. Work that satisfies my human need for purpose and meaning.
To do this – I had to give some things up.
- Conventional notions of success: Traditional success is wrapped up in the idea that humans experience life in a particular order. You go to school. You go to university. You work your way up. You get married, have kids and buy a nice house. You retire and travel the world. I am not doing these things in that order and it leads me to question if I’m in fact, nuts.
- Prestigious career: When people ask what I do for a living, I no longer have the security of a definable prestigious profession. As a “lawyer”, no explanation was needed. Even if they didn’t know or care what kind of lawyer I was, they knew law to be a legitimate career. When I tell people what I do now, I enjoy a range of reactions from encouragement to blank faces, from grass-is-always-greener-longing to indifference, from polite smiles to flat-out concern.
- My former identity: I had to say goodbye to the version of myself I had nurtured over several decades. I was attached to my old story, my old mindset – my old comfort zone. I had it down pat. I didn’t have to justify myself to others. Now, I feel like I’m starting to learn who I am all over again. I have to build a new narrative. Ironically, it takes a lot of energy to be yourself. It is way easier to maintain your external façade, even if your internal conditions change.
- Peace & Quiet Enjoyment: I am a married woman of child bearing age. I’m giving up my expectation of peace and quiet enjoyment while my impatient family eagerly awaits news of my impending motherhood. Wanting to pursue entrepreneurship and see Ideapod and F-OFF succeed as much as I do, means it will be a while before I will be ready to settle down and become a parent.
In my former life, I was attached to these things. To the point where I felt trapped.
I wasn’t fulfilling my purpose; yet my fear of failure and pride stopped me from taking action because I didn’t want to give these comforts up.
Eventually, I accepted that I had a choice:
I could live in my comfort zone which conformed to expectations but didn’t fulfil me. Or I could give up the safety of conventional notions of success, a prestigious career, a well-worn identity and peace and quiet enjoyment to chase my potential.
I chose the latter.
Making the choice itself was not easy.
However, living with the consequences of the choice has been.
If you want to explore your own fear of failure, why it holds you back and learn some strategies to grow your potential, why not join me and a host of others on 20 July 2017 where we – along with Karma – host F-OFF: Fear of Failure Forum (Gratitude Edition).
Buy tickets here.