Many people spend huge amounts of physical, emotional and spiritual energy dreading the worst case scenario. Some try desperately to keep that scenario from happening to the point where it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You might be so afraid of getting fired that you take on too much or play small, don’t take risks, try to be the ideal, compliant employee. In the meantime your less fearful colleagues, who know how to set boundaries, get promotions, raises and new jobs. Or you might be so afraid that your love will leave you that you get clingy using all of the weapons in your arsenal to keep them attached – money, guilt, controlling behavior, over-attention.
For me, I’ve always been afraid of having a heart attack. My paternal grandmother died of a heart attack, and my father always told me how much I resemble her both in looks and personality. (I think that was a compliment…) My father died of a heart attack and my mother died of congestive heart failure. I’ve got heart disease in my genes, and I’ve always known that.
So what was my reaction? I hid from it – denying it. I’ve always been healthy, never been in the hospital, never taken prescription medicines (except birth control – does that count?), and I rarely went to the doctor. I’m approaching a big milestone birthday, so I figured I’d better go see a doctor. Surprise! High blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar. The doctor told me to make lifestyle changes right now and come back to see her in three months.
Too late! Three weeks later I had a heart attack or an ST segment elevation myocardial infarction to be precise. An effing heart attack as I call it.
Well, it’s been three months now, and my heart attack has been the biggest blessing of my life. I was very fortunate that I suffered minimal damage because I got to the hospital so quickly (thanks to my friend, Michele). But my blessings don’t end there. I’ve learned a ton about myself through this experience, and my friends have rallied around me in wonderful ways big and small.
I got the wake-up call of a lifetime and the opportunity to have a do-over with my health. I’m now applying those do-over lessons to my business and to the rest of my life. I can’t wait to see what I create.
What are you afraid of? What’s the worst thing that could happen to you right now? Pete Carroll, coach of the Seattle Seahawks football team, made a great comment in a press conference a couple of weeks ago. He got asked a question about some potentially risky decisions, and his response was classic: “Get fired three or four times – there’s a freedom from that. You’re dangerous.”
Oftentimes the worst thing that could happen to you turns out to be the best thing that could happen to you. You’ll need to take your lumps, but then apply the lessons learned and move forward with a fresh, new perspective.
So don’t play small or avoid taking risks or lash out or fight to cling to a situation or a relationship. Don’t give in to the fear of what will happen if you get fired or dumped or something else happens that’s outside of your control. It might happen, and it might just be the best thing that could happen. As FDR said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Oh, and don’t take your health for granted. Without it, you have nothing else.