I made a decision the other day. I was running around London (before the first in-person speaking event I've done in months!), dutifully wearing a mask, and found myself tutting silently or rolling my eyes at anyone who wasn't. I did it any time anyone came within less than 6 feet of me, any time someone didn't use hand gel at the entrance to a shop, and any time anyone behaved in a pre-COVID way. (You know, behaved normally?)
And then, quite suddenly and without any prompting, I stopped. And I made my decision: I was not going to live in fear of my fellow human beings, and I was not going to view every inanimate object or molecule of air as a potential disease-carrying-threat. I was done. Fear had taken up far too much space in my brain for far too long, and I was done. Yes, I would continue to follow the "rules" and be "sensible", but I wasn't going to live in judgment or fear while doing so.
And then it got me thinking about a conversation I had just a few days ago with a new-found friend in Genoa. She was telling me about the work she and her partners do around helping women reclaim the space and energy normally given over to fear. And that got me thinking about just how much space and energy fear takes up in our lives. And how many things we do or not do on a daily basis because we are afraid (COVID aside).
On any given day, how many of us don't send an email, make a phone call, or have a conversation because we're afraid of rejection or confrontation? How many of us don't put ourselves forward for an award/a promotion/an interview/insert-anything-here because we're afraid of what people will think of us? How many of us don't start working on our businesses because we're afraid of failure? How many of us keep working at jobs or playing a role that shrinks our souls because we're afraid of losing prestige in the eyes of others?
Fear, fear, and more fear - big, small, existential, trivial - it follows us throughout our day. Every. Single. Day.
But, my dear Entreprenoras, it doesn't have to be that way. We don't need to let fear boss us around. We can tell fear to shut the hell up and get the hell out. We can realize that fear isn't always protecting us (often just the opposite). And we can view fear for what it is (information) without presuming that the information is telling us to stop or stay small.
When we decide against fear, that decision changes everything internally. And so often our fear is internally manufactured, anyway, not externally real (unless we're face-to-face with a tiger!).
So the next time we find ourselves being/doing/saying something - or not - because of fear, let's stop. Let's take just one step closer to where we want to be instead of where our fear has told us to stay.
Let's decide against fear and for ourselves.
"I'll come back in five minutes, shall I?"That is the line my husband uses every evening as we put our toddler to sleep. He gets her ready for bed, I give her milk and read her a story, and in the few minutes it takes her to finish her bottle, my husband always leaves the room before coming back to take her to her bed.
For the longest time, this annoyed me to no end. "What's the point in leaving for five minutes?" I would say to myself. "It's just unnecessary back and forth."
And then I did the math...
And dammnnnnn, do those five minutes that I was so dismissive of add up. I mean really add up: five minutes every day for 365 days equates to 1825 minutes or 30.42 hours or 1.27 days. Yes, just five minutes a day is the same as a whole extra day (and then some!) every year. Woah.
When I did the math, I was stunned. I mean what more could I do with an extra 1.27 days each year? How many more books could I read in 30.42 hours? How many more trips to the gym could I fit in? How many more blog posts could I write? How many more walks could I go on?...
We often dismiss - and squander - small increments of time because we think they are insignificant. We ignore the power of compounding. There are so many things about which we say "Oh, it'll just take five minutes" and then we plunge in. But even if it does just take five minutes, are those five minutes being used in the best way possible?
I often get clients and students resist my suggestions to delegate small things because they say it only takes them five minutes to do and it's just easier to do it themselves (sound familiar?). But using the math above, you can see how lots of little "five minutes here" and "five minutes there" can eat away DAYS of your year.
So what are you spending "only five minutes" on that you could or should delegate to someone else? What could you START to spend five minutes on each day to move you closer to one of your goals? Five minutes is never just five minutes (even when it is five minutes), because that "five minutes" mentality keeps so many of us stuck doing things that we should NOT be doing, or keeps us from starting things we should.
We underestimate the power of five minutes. Heck, I teach this stuff and I still find myself falling into that. It's something we have to work on consistently. We need to pay attention to all the minutes. To paraphrase a famous saying: Take care of the minutes and the years will take care of themselves.
Do the math. And value your minutes.