Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Minnesota for a weekend retreat where I received my Fearless Living Coach certification.
As a coach already, I’d participated in a separate program than the other graduates, and although I knew many of them, we didn’t have the same cohort bond they enjoyed amongst themselves.
While a part of me looked forward to the experience, I had an upcoming trip to Italy soon after, my coaching practice at home, my work with St. Vincent Meals on Wheels, managing my 5-year-old and his intense dislike of camp and of course, my dog rescue. Dropping into an intensive weekend of training, bonding, and stimulation was actually a stressful proposal—even for this extrovert.
As I was heading out to LAX, I made a mental deal with myself— and my mom who begged me not to go so I could take care of myself—to experience the weekend in a different way. I made a conscious decision to take every opportunity that weekend to make myself the priority and make choices that would take my needs into consideration.
Not sure about you, but for this mom, that’s a tall order. I didn’t want it to appear that I wasn’t a team player, but I needed to take some time for myself and what was important to me.
I took walks on breaks. I left the group lunch early and went to a quiet spot nearby to grab a bite on my own and tend to my to-do list. I slept like a rock and kept to my own in a way that if you know me, then you know it’s out of character.
On the last night of the retreat, there was a talent show and karaoke night. My fellow coaches had been prepping for weeks on skits and they were adorable, but in my detached approach to the weekend, I had little interest in participating.
But, after their practiced skits the floor was opened to those who wanted to present their talents. There was a reading of a story, a virtual surfing lesson, and a movie presented. Although I had been lingering in the back, still not intending to participate, I said to myself, “What’s my talent? What could I show?”
My first answer was nothing. I know, I know, but it’s amazing how even as a coach, who helps people see what’s special about themselves, my fear took over and I drew a blank. It’s not that I intellectually don’t know that I have talents, but I literally couldn’t think of anything I could display.
But then something popped into my head. Last year I was honored by Wags and Walks as their “Wagatarian” of the year. A video had been made about me and a rescue operation I spearheaded.
I hadn’t watched it in over a year, but I decided that while not exactly a commonly recognized ‘talent’, it was one and the talent of which I am most proud.
But as the next person…and then the next…and the next came up to present their talent, I kept hesitating. I knew it was an awesome video and an awesome story, but I was afraid of how it would be perceived.
At a certain point, I said eff it. If I couldn’t be fearless at a FEARLESS LIVING retreat here, where the hell could I do it? So I saddled up, presented the YouTube link and asked to be next.
As the video played, I tried to get a read on the audience, but I wasn’t sure. I rolled through the options of what they might be thinking… Betsy is a grandstander, or how is this a talent?, or, or, or.
This, by the way, is the classic fear dynamic in action which looks like this:
I definitely don’t want to do _____ (fill in the blank), because people may think______ (fill in the blank), so I will do nothing and then beat myself up.
But wait…I’m a coach and I’m at a FEARLESS LIVING RETREAT dammit, so I decided that this was an exercise in not caring about how it was received. In order to be free in our lives, we really do have to not care about how we will be perceived.
By the end of the video, I was in sort of a blissed-out state of freedom. I was so proud of the work highlighted in the video that I really didn’t care as much about what people were going to say.
As the segment wrapped, people were clapping and a few were crying and others offered to foster dogs and others asked about how they could volunteer with animals in their community. I won’t lie…it felt pretty amazing as there is truly nothing aside from my family that is more important to me than dogs, but the other part of the rush was about me facing my fear and letting go of the outcome.
And this is what living fearlessly is all about. How those people reacted made the work I did saving the dogs in the video no more or less important. Connecting to what matters to you…in this case saving dogs…and letting that carry you through is what’s important. And this is at the heart of my coaching.
Connect to what’s important to you. Let that fill you up, and it will move you into freedom.