What’s the Worst That Can Happen?

June 2, 2015


The first sentence that I ever uttered was “Ez a boog.”  Growing up in Florida being afraid of insects (and snakes) could be problematic, but I was. And I still am.  In college, I remember calling a friend to come over and kill a water bug for me. I’m also afraid of heights – watching me stand on a chair is a pretty amusing event. Not surprisingly these rank as the top most common phobias according to Fear.Net (but don’t believe everything you read on the internet).   As a kid fear was instilled in me at an early age.  I was the same age as Adam Walsh, the boy who was murdered in Florida, thus leaving me forever scared of being kidnapped by just about everyone, especially the garbage men – they terrified me.

As an adult I’ve gotten significantly braver.  I travel often and learned to look like I belong and know where I am going.  I may have even become a slight fan of fear.  As a coach, I love to see the results of clients being pushed out of their comfort zone.  I’ve learned to practice what I preach by taking baby steps out of the zone.  On occasion I take giant leaps.

A few years ago, as a new business owner I had a meeting with someone who had recently sold his company and was traveling the world.  We were discussing fear and he said to me, with great authority, “What’s the worst that can happen?”

Wow.  This statement was powerful.  Once I carefully processed this statement, its profoundness hit me.   In 99% of the cases, the worst outcome isn’t so bad.  Keep in mind that 67% of statistics are made up so don’t quote me on that one.

As I have approached both my business and personal life and that gray area in between, I find myself asking that exact question whenever I am faced with a scary situation.

Fear is intimate.  It’s a deep part of someone’s psyche and often complex to understand.  Someone can be a tall and strong man, capable of kicking some major booty, but petrified of making life decisions that might come easy to someone else.

For me, becoming a business owner was one of the scariest, yet best decisions I have ever made.  As I explore evolving my career into a life of public service, I get butterflies in my stomach.

I’ve come to realize that fear is one of the best things life can give us.  It keeps us safe from strangers but it sling shots us forward towards great opportunities.  Fear is the thing that lets us know something is big and powerful and worthy of consideration.   If you are making a big decision and you are a little fearful, know that the feeling of fear could be easily overcome by the great feeling of success that stems from making such a grand decision.

What might you be afraid of:

  • Speaking up at work?
  • Confronting a friend?
  • Starting a business?
  • Applying for a new position?
  • Asking a guy/girl out on a date?
  • Speaking in front a group of people?
  • Trying and failing?
  • Getting out of an unhealthy relationship?
  • Moving to a new place?

Whatever it is, ask yourself “what’s the worst that can happen?” And then,  if the results don’t result in death or physical harm and you are still scared, put on your big girl/boy pants and embrace the fear.  Own it.   Feel the fear and make change anyway.

And if you do, I’ll be happy to hold your hand or give you a pep talk – just as long as you are willing to get rid of bugs for me.