I’m not scared of much. Never have been. Except for heights, I have a fear of falling. Except for Jase and raising him the best I can. Except for starting a business, as we roll into year six. Except for a broken heart, but then I met Mike. Except for dropping all the plates, I have spinning in the air, as I add two more. So, maybe I am a bit scared…. of a lot of things.
But here’s what I know about fear, about being afraid. It’s only scary until you do it once. And that’s pretty much with everything. Fear must be harnessed and used as a vehicle to tackle the next objective, goal or task.Fear should be used as fuel.
We’re constantly advised, told and encouraged to get out of our comfort zone, to not succumb to fear and to “do what scares us.” And it’s absolutely true. Fear only has as much power and you give it.
When I made the shift into financial services six years ago, it was a total leap into the unknown. And it was purely by accident. I was actually going through the motions of what was safe, of what was easy. When I resigned from my role as Project Coordinator for an orthodontic management company in 2012, it was because I couldn’t travel 20 days a month anymore. Mike and I married in 2011, and when I got pregnant with Jase, that much travel just wasn’t reasonable nor what I wanted with a newborn.
At that time, there was a lack of corporate opportunity in Las Cruces. So, I set out to do the most logical career move I could think of with a flexible schedule for a soon-to-be-mom. I went to graduate school to become a teacher. Currently, I am one semester of student teaching away from a Master’s in Education. Becoming a teacher was sensible. I would have a somewhat flexible schedule suitable for a new mom, I’d be able to share my love of grammar, linguistics and literature and I’d have a pension. You know what major aspect was missing from this algorithm? The joy of teaching children and young adults. Nothing about my plan involved shaping young minds. I had come to this conclusion to teach for purely selfish and practical reasons. And because it was easiest route.
One day, while searching for a study group in Corbett Center, I got lost and stumbled into a job fair. As I was walking through, a gentlemanstopped me to ask me about my post-graduate plans. I apologized to him for the inconvenience, but I was only walking through. I was going to be a teacher. He asked me a bit more about my career background and then insisted on buying me a coffee the next day if I brought him a resume to peruse. Reluctantly, I agreed, only because he was so absolutely persistent.
We had coffee. We talked about the career options at New York Life Insurance Company and NYLIFE Securities. I was very honest about my lack of skills in algebra and calculus. He laughed. I researched the company, discussed it with my husband, called my dad who in turn forwarded me to a former school mate who’d been with NYL for nearly 45 years. I called that guy and asked him to give me the lowdown with no BS. What he said to me changed the course of my life. “You have to think about it as if you were opening your own business. If you owned a restaurant, how many hours would you be there per day during the first few years?” “12-16,” I answered. “Exactly,” he said, “If you put in the time at the beginning, this can be a fruitful endeavor, for your clients and your family.”
I was scared. I was almost finished with the easier path. And I threw it out the window to try and be my own boss. And it was hard. And money was beyond tight. And I met with people at coffee shops or at their kitchen tables. And I went to every single free event I could. And I marketed my name like I’d be signing autographs in a few years. And I woke up at 5am. And I worked until 10pm. And I made a little bit of money. And I put it back into my business. And I met with people in rented conference rooms. And I kept going even though it was hard and exhausting. And I rented an office space. And I got more clients. And it was still scary but also a little bit easier.
But that fear propelled me forward. The fear of failing, the fear of not providing for my family, the fear of having to give up. It’s still there. Every day. I just use it differently now. Instead of being something scary, it’s a driving force behind me and the practice.
Fear is a liar because it tells you it’s scary, but really, it’s an energy and you dictate how its power is expended.