Playing bigger starts with defining fear

Playing Bigger starts with defining fear

At the beginning of the year I set out on a mission this year to be one thing – ‘unrecognisable’.  Why?  Because my personal mission is to be consistently playing bigger in life.

And my professional mission is to guide you to start playing bigger too.

It all starts with awareness, and how we define fear.

I believe there are 3 levels of fear:

  1. Terrified
  2. Scared
  3. Uncomfortable

Playing bigger happens in all of these zones, but zone 3 – being uncomfortable looks like the easiest place to start.

Or is it?

When I set out to be unrecognisable, most things made me feel scared.  Asking for help, recording videos, speaking in public, disagreeing with people who I considered powerful, telling my friends that it wasn’t OK to keep cancelling at the last minute, rebelling against school policy when it was too flipping cold to wear a summer dress!

And one day I looked down at my 5 year old, and I remembered my Mum’s words to me at that age – Susan – you can’t go through life afraid of everything, you are going to have to pretend you’re confident.

Well, I have spent most of my life pretending – you know that phrase, fake it til you make it.  The problem I have with that I it didn’t do anything about the scaredy pants that was living inside the façade.  She was in there begging me not to do all these things.  Desperately wanting to keep me safe.  And the same way I have always been.

I didn’t want that voice inside me.  Instead I wanted one that would egg me on.  ‘Go on Susie, you know you can do it.  You did that other thing so this is a walk in the park for you, surely’.

With the logic of that desired voice in mind, I decided to do a Chris Gardner (The Pursuit of Happyness), and go straight to the top of the list.  I wrote down all the things that terrified me, and I set out on a mission to tick as many of them off my list as possible this year.

I started blogging about it last month, so if you missed it you can read about it here.

June’s challenge was to ride a horse.

I have wanted to ride a horse since I was a child, and despite my Mum growing up on a farm in Ireland the opportunity never came up.  As I write that though, I reflect on what I said last month…..sometimes we want an opportunity to fall in our laps, beautifully wrapped with the word OPPORTUNITY emblazoned across the front!  And this isn’t how it works.  The opportunity to ride a horse is EVERYWHERE.  The problem is that I wasn’t looking because I didn’t really want to see it.


Because I was shit scared!

So anyway, this is the year I got over myself.

Combating self-sabotage

I googled local riding schools.  I emailed them and asked if they were good with adult scaredy cats who are 1.78M tall and heavy!

Now, I did get there in the end, but look at all the ways I tried to sabotage it, or at least defer my experience for as long as possible:

I emailed them – I could have just picked one, called them and had a lesson that day.

I sat on the email replies for 3 weeks – delaying…

I was a nit picking what the lady at the stables was saying – looking for a reason to not find the right stables

It was 32 degrees that day and asked myself whether it is OK to ride horses in that heat!

Every possible thing that I could find to stop me actually doing it was thrown BY ME into my path.

The quick route?  The easy route: just pick up the phone and make it happen!!!

I am not beating myself up about this, but I am sharing it with you so that you can see the small things we do that are delaying tactics.  And the only person it negatively affects is us!!

So I did it!  Not only did I get on a horse, allow it to walk me through the woods, and not fall off, but I even went for a little trot.  Just to juice up my fear, I had to walk past 3 circling Alsatians that looked hungry en-route – given that I am also terrified of dogs that is another tick on my list.


Now I have to say, this is not as energetic as my last post where I wholeheartedly loved every minute of my challenge, but instead of elation, what I felt was perspective.

I went from squeezing that poor horse with my inner thighs as I was so scared I would fall, to sending him my loving thoughts and gratitude for keeping me safe, to zoning out completely and just enjoying the moment.

Horse-riding is not a hobby that I am going to adopt, but doing things that scare me certain has become one.

So is it easier to just do the things that make is uncomfortable and avoid the rest?  I don’t think so.

What I am finding is that by doing things that are really terrifying TO ME, I am able to get uncomfortable without it really bothering me too much.  The list of things that terrify me is diminishing.  Up next is the list of things that scare me.  Those things are much more about the impact I have on the world.

Things that terrify are personal to you – one person’s parachute jump is another person’s jumping the queue.  They can’t really be compared.

Things that scare are much more common, and much more about human nature.  So perhaps this is the category that deserves the most attention.  Self doubt, self trust, commitment, endurance, all of which affect the results in our  relationships, our wellbeing, and the impact we want to have on the world with our work.

Want to join in July?

Are you willing to do the things that you would never dream of doing?

Are you willing to take action on the things you have been saying you want?

Are you willing to put yourself out there and risk judgement and criticism, or worse, being ignored completely?

Uncomfortable right?  Even scary?

Well July is going to be new territory – a really different type of challenge – it is all about CONSISTENCY.

Consistency is the one theme that runs through most peoples success stories – in life and in business.  Inconsistency makes it harder.  Inconsistency means you are constantly trying to motivate yourself rather than making a commitment, forming a habit and just getting on with seeing results.

The challenge kicked off on 1st July – and it’s proving to be really good fun!

The more people that do it with me, the merrier it is going to be.  To find out more, I invite you to join my Playing Bigger Facebook Group where you will be getting real time updates throughout July. 

And bring a friend too!

Here’s to you playing bigger, and kicking fear into touch!

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