I recorded a podcast interview the other day, for Be The Good Podcast, with a woman who leads a female empowerment community, supporting the women in her group as they work towards their personal growth goals. We talked for a while about her methods and how she leads this group, and eventually we got into a conversation about the ways that we, as women, can often hold ourselves back from our goals and our desires, simply because we are afraid of even trying.
“And why are we so afraid of trying?” I asked her. She said "There are many reasons we can be afraid to try, but mainly we are afraid of trying because we are afraid of failing. We are afraid of not getting it right, of not doing things perfectly, or of not achieving our desired outcome. And so, we will often just revert to thinking, well maybe I should just hold off on this idea for now..”
And it got me thinking… I started to think about all the TED talks I’ve watched of incredibly intelligent and thought provoking females or the successful female thought leaders I have been tuned into for many years who have inspired me in countless ways. I thought of the most successful women I know in business and entrepreneurship and I thought about the unique journeys of these women and what it took for them to get to where they are today. And what struck me was the realization that each and every one of those women had to have worked through a ton of self doubt, numerous challenges and obstacles, and a boat load of fear to get to a place where we would say they were “successful”. But really what makes each and every one of those women successful, in my eyes, is not the titles they hold, or the awards they have won, or the final products they have delivered. What makes them truly successful, in my eyes, is the grit, perseverance, and the sheer will I now realize it took for them to keep going, to keep putting one foot in front of the other to get to where they are, and to keep believing in themselves along the way.
It got me thinking about the value of moving past our fears, one step at a time, and replacing that fear with possibility, hope and a belief in the power of the process.
When I first created my nonprofit, Project Scleroderma, about 12 years ago, I had previously been a hair stylist for years. Back then my identity was so tightly wrapped around who I had been in that particular industry, all the goals I had set for myself, many of which I had achieved. I was a top level stylist with a full clientele and a thriving bridal hair business when I decided to leave and start my nonprofit. It was a really big leap for me. And as a result I had an enormous amount of fear. Would I even be any good at this? Would I be able to make the impact I was hoping to make? Would anyone see me as qualified enough to do this?
But despite my fear, something deep inside me, a small voice, was saying to me, this is the next best step, keep moving in this direction. And so I did. And the process was messy at first, I will not pretend it was easy. I had to learn how to run a nonprofit and was also learning how to make documentary films, neither of which I had any experience with. There were plenty of learning curves and tears along the way but I kept leaning into the idea that my authentic self had so much to offer, I just needed to keep showing up as her and trust that I would make my way through, one step at a time.
To date, Project Scleroderma has created over 40 documentary style videos and films for scleroderma awareness, our latest of which is currently on the film festival circuit and was recently nominated as a finalist for Best Documentary as part of the New York International Film Awards. That is very exciting, and I am very very proud of my team and all that we have accomplished thus far, but I am also deeply proud of the perseverance, the grit and the will it took me, myself, to keep going, to keep putting one foot in front of the other to get to this place. To not allow my fears or limiting beliefs to stop me before I even started.
As we embark on a new year, I would like to propose a few questions to get your wheels turning in terms of goals, intentions and how you can lean into the value of the process…
What are the visions you hold for your future and how might an intentional focus on the small wins towards your goals possibly help you enjoy the process more?
Are you willing to lean into trying new things or reaching for new goals despite your fears?
Can you make a commitment to yourself to focus on putting one foot in front of the other and celebrating each moment of progress along the way?
My motto that I often share is “This life is ours to create”... and I truly believe that. I believe that we have a deep power within ourselves to co-create the life we want to live and oftentimes the only thing that is holding us back is ourselves. One more powerful question to ask yourself if this: "What do I wish to be possible for myself vs. what do I believe is possible for myself?"
Sometimes there can be a huge gap between the two and we don’t even realize it. We may dream big and have strong desires, but do we truly believe that we are capable of achieving them? Because if we don’t believe we are capable or we are scared of failing, that is when we decide to not fully move towards them. Pushing past your fear does not require you to take huge scary steps towards your goals… it’s about putting one foot in front of the other and believing that you are headed in the right direction because you are following that authentic pull from within, you are following your own gut instincts. And, in my opinion, if that pull is there on your heart to achieve something meaningful to you, it was not put there by accident. That pull is there for a reason and as long as you make the decision to persevere, and you lean into a belief in yourself, you can and will achieve any goal you set for yourself.
Just be sure to keep in mind that true success if found in the process. It is in the process that we find true joy and meaning in life, it is in the tiny wins and steps toward progress that we feel true satisfaction. It is in knowing that you are operating from a place that feels authentic to you that you can trust that no matter where you end up on the path towards your goals, you didn’t do it perfectly but you did it courageously.