Three Important Lessons on Conquering Fear I Learned From My Son

 

Fear is only as deep as the mind allows. – Japanese Proverb

I learned a lot last week watching my four year old play and he inspired me to reflect on this experience.  I took my older son, Lucas, out of daycare and went on an adventure to the Liberty Science Center in NJ.  In the middle of the museum is a large climbing feature known as the Infinity Climber.  It’s a suspended play space that is 26 feet wide, 24 feet deep, 19 feet tall, and most importantly, it’s perched 35 feet in the air.  It’s contained by hand threaded wire to prevent any climber from falling 35 feet to the ground below and has 64 pedal-like platforms creating multiple pathways throughout the structure.  In a nutshell, it’s a blast for most who enter, but it’s daunting structure for a four year old.
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Lucas and I have visited the museum several times and he’s always been too afraid to go near the climber. As always, I encouraged him to try and tackle this seemingly massive structure. This time he went to the edge, looked around, took a step and leaped into the structure (see the above photo). In the blink of an eye, he was off to the races!  Once he took that initial step, he was climbing up and down, swinging on the pedals and conquering his fear.  Every so often, he looked and flashed a smile as he continued his way around the Infinity Climber.  I cheered him on and encouraged him to explore and have fun for as long as he wanted.  He spent nearly an hour working his way through  with only a small break for a drink of water and a high five for his mother.

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When we confront our fears, we find out how resilient we really are.  Being able to do so helps us grow and we take away valuable lessons even from a four year old taking on a climbing structure.  My family is my biggest joy in life and I couldn’t help but share this anecdote and some of the lessons I learned from someone much younger than me!

  1. Conquer your fears.  Everyone is afraid of something or other.  The only way you can go ahead in life is by overcoming your fears and conquering them.  We develop confidence when we successfully overcome adversity.  For my son, taking the first few steps in and realizing he couldn’t fall was all he needed to realize he was going to be okay.  Remember, the more challenges we face throughout our lives the more prepared we’ll be to deal with adversity in the future. Don’t wait for fear to put you in a corner, tackle it before it tries to tackle you.
  2. When forced to do so, embrace fear.  Sometimes life is scary. It’s normal to be scared and sometimes life may only give you one opportunity to say YES or to try something new.  The best things in life often happen as we approach the edge of our comfort zone.   We don’t know what we’re capable of until we find ourselves in a situation where we have no choice.
  3. Support systems are key.  Anything we’re confronted with in life, chances are someone has experiences or been through something similar.  Leaning on others and asking them how others have overcome a similar challenge can often help us to shorten our learning curve and identify and take the right actions.

I encouraged my son to explore and take a risk, highlighting how much fun he would have should he try and conquer his fear.  He needed that subtle encouragement to go to the edge and take his first step and the rest is history. If we’re able to accept that our fears are mostly made up within our minds we’re likely to take on new risks within our lives.  As long as we take on thoughtful risk, we will likely grow and be better prepared for the next challenge.

I’d love to know what lessons or advice you have for encouraging people to face fear. Please leave a comment or send me a tweet.  Thanks for reading!

My Three Rules to Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

In an age where we are readily able to access our work 24/7 many people are putting in extra hours, and using their smartphones to continue to be “on-call” outside of traditional work hours. I’m guilty as charged and often reach for my phone and answer work emails early in the morning and late at night before getting out of bed. I’ve found a few ways to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

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Here are three ways which have helped me find a little more daily balance within my routine:

Rule 1: Learn to Unplug

Because we are so plugged in and connected it can be a challenge to step away and leave work behind. When I take my vacation days I now unplug and turn off my alerts completely. I leave my team my personal email and cell phone, and they’ll find me if it’s urgent, but by unplugging and not reading emails & listening to voicemails has helped me to enjoy my paid time off.

As long as your clients and vendors are informed of your plans in advance (i.e. through previous correspondence, voicemail or out-of-office messaging) they typically respect your privacy and need to disconnect.
Rule 2: Use Your Vacation Time

While we are on the topic of taking time off and unplugging, it’s important to schedule vacations and personal days to step away from work and relax. Vacations allow us to re-energize and return to our job well rested, and too often we don’t use our time off!

Americans throw away $52.4 billion every year because we won’t take time off from work. (Source: Oxford Economics) Click to Tweet.

Overall, Americans are taking less vacation than they did a decade ago. In 2013, the average worker took 16 vacation days, down from 20.9 in 2000, according to an analysis by the U.S. Travel Association’s Project: Time Off, an initiative to encourage more workplace vacation.

It’s important to schedule time off, and use your vacation time.  I’ll admit sometimes I take a “mental health” day and do nothing but lay in bed and relax, and for me, it makes such a difference. However you use your time off is your decision, a lot of people prefer “staycations” but whatever you do, use your time off, don’t throw away hard earned time off, use it and enjoy!

Rule 3: Communicate with Family, Friends, and Coworkers

Having an open line of communication with family, friends, and coworkers can help play a part with your overall happiness and balance. I always let my husband know key events and projects i’m working on so he understands when I’m going to be busy at my office. We’ve synched up our google calendars, and anything important and dates I need to be in early or stay late goes into the calendar. Since we’ve had the baby our time management skills have become thoroughly more efficient as we’ve had to make our days more productive to get home and pick our son up at daycare. We both typically bring home work, but after a certain time try to cut it off and be together as a family and enjoy dinner and a little downtime.

When we have big events at work I try to communicate to my co-workers to ensure all hands are on deck to help ease the workload and understand when longer hours are going to be expected. Ive found that many times issues arise in my work-life balance when I’m not properly communicating. Finding the methods and communication tactics that work best for you will help increase your productivity and overall well-being.

I hope these three tips have helped, what rules do you use to maintain a healthy work-life balance? Leave a comment below or send me a tweet @MarissaPick.