As I was driving home in Los Angeles on a busy Monday evening, as soon as my car left the on-ramp and settled nicely into the middle lane I breathed a sigh of relief and instantly felt freedom. Sounds weird, but perhaps those who have their nose to the grind daily in LA and run their own business know that freeing feeling of driving 65 mph and having your windows down with that Cali sunshine streaming in through your window and your hair.
As I thought more about the concept of feeling free whilst driving on the 405 fwy (one of the busiest and most congested in Los Angeles) I couldn’t help but remember the first time I drove on that freeway sometime in 2008 when I had just moved here. I was petrified! I was driving in a Jeep Cherokee Laredo on the opposite side of the car than I was used to, coming from Australia where we drive on the left side of the road.
My heart was beating, I was sweating, my hands gripped the steering wheel and I was sat so forward that my head almost touched the windscreen. Needless to say, I feared for my life, and I know so many others who have echoed the exact same sentiments about the exact same freeway.
Then it struck me, if something I once feared so much was now a source of daily freedom for me, perhaps this is a lesson I could apply to other areas in my life.
We are taught to conquer our fears, not let them get the better of us, ignore them, etc. But what if we had a different perspective, which allowed us to focus on them in a new light?
What if each fear that came into our lives was actually meant to secretly be the very ingredient that sets us free?
I watched a Tedx Talk by Olympic Snowboarder Amy Purdy recently, and was really impacted by her topic ‘Living beyond Limits.’ At 19 she was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, lost a kidney and had to have both legs amputated below the knee. There went her dreams of becoming a world champion snowboarder…or so she thought.
Eventually she went on to create her own special type of prosthesis, which would allow her not only to conquer the mountain, but win multiple world championships. She will also make history this year at the Sochi Winter Olympics to becoming the first ever double-leg amputee to compete at Olympic level.
She said some pretty profound things about obstacles and barriers, which we all face in life at some time.
“Our borders and our obstacles can only do two things: 1: stop us in our tracks, or 2) force us to get creative.”
Then she says this next statement (and this is the bit that blew my mind and inspired me to include it in this piece).
“It’s facing our fears head on that allows us to live our lives beyond our limits. In my life, innovation has only been possibly because of my borders… It’s not about breaking down borders, it’s about pushing off of them and seeing what amazing places they might take us.”
Whoa…let’s just take a moment to let that sink in.
Imagine if we started looking at our worst fears and obstacles in our lives as the very launch pad into greatness? What if we viewed them as the very starting point of our destiny? It makes sense doesn’t it?
A lot of the great minds and achievers in the world have all faced major adversity and setbacks, yet they wouldn’t be where they were today if it weren’t for those.
Perhaps they reached amazing heights because they viewed their greatest fears as their actual starting point, as opposed to something in the way.
I challenge you all today reading this, whatever your fear is, see it from a new perspective, see it as the next step you need to push you toward your goals.