Mea Culpa + F.E.A.R.

I received a small shock this morning when I logged into Mail Chimp and found that the article I had written and scheduled to send on Saturday was scheduled for the wrong Saturday and hence never got sent (that’s what I get for working on the go!). So, this is a quick apology for being a few days late, but here I am, and more important, here is the article that should have greeted your inboxes on Saturday… Happy reading!

As you may remember from my message last weekend, I am in New York visiting my family. It has been a wonderful whirlwind so far, and there is still a big family wedding to come.

Flying here with our toddler wasn’t fun, but it was over after only a few tears (mostly mine), lots of internal screams (again, mostly mine), copious amounts of silent cursing (very definitely mine), and seven hours of pacing up and down the aisles.

I was terrified in the run-up to our trip because I have never traveled with her alone and seven hours of peace in a confined space with bad food is a big ask of most people, much less an active tot, but in the end it wasn’t that bad and we got through it together without any meltdowns, and at least one of us was still smiling happily when we landed.

One of the lessons I learned again on that flight — I seem to learn this lesson “again” a lot — is that the fear and anxiety I felt in anticipation of the flight was a poor prediction of the reality. And it reminded me of the wise words a friend-preneur shared with me many years go: that F.E.A.R is often nothing more than False Expectations Appearing Real.

This happens so much to me in life and in business, maybe to some of you, too. We wind ourselves up into Gordian knots of stress worrying about things that haven’t happened and our imaginations go on a frenzy of worst-case-scenario-building, leaving not even a synapse-sized space for the possibility of a less-than-horrific outcome (never mind a successful one), and we waste precious head space and brainpower and life force anticipating disasters that never come to pass in the way we most, well, fear.

I would have to rely on some high-order math if I tried to calculate the number of times I have anxiously expected disaster or sub-optimal outcomes before an event or a speech or an award nomination or even just a phone call. I know how hard it is to keep a leash on rabid fear. But with time and experience and each new experience that goes better than I thought it would, or even goes well, I have started to try training myself into anticipating things with a little less fear. I have started planning for success just a little bit more. Anticipating happier endings just a little bit more. Letting my mind roam through best-case scenarios just a little bit more. And going ahead and making stuff happen despite my fears.

Most of us can survive even our worst imaginings, so why waste the time imagining them? Why waste an opportunity to do something or build something or change something when fear is often no more than a false expectation appearing real?

I know it’s not easy, but it is doable. So let’s do this, ladies, fears and all.

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About Me
Rupal Patel logo
The daughter of Indian immigrants, Rupal is a born-and-bred New Yorker now living near London. Her high-octane career as a CIA officer turned serial entrepreneur has taken her from military briefing rooms in jungles and war zones to corporate boardrooms and international stages.

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