I had written exactly five blog posts and published them on my homemade, very bad blog site.
I had one paying client.
I had two months left of my teacher’s salary, and then it was sink or swim.
I’d done it. After months and months of agonizing, I’d quit my job to become a coach.
I probably leapt a little too fast (I like to move fast), but I just couldn’t sign on for another year of teaching high school orchestra. For about ten million reasons.
I knew, in my heart, I was meant to coach.
I was terrified.
What had I done? How was I going to make it work in just two months? (I’d been working, of course, on my coaching practice, but I was a total newbie, and it was taking time.)
I had one main thought: WHAT SHOULD I DO?!!!!
The first month passed, day after terrifying day.
The second month passed, day after terrifying day.
Then, there it was. The month where I would not be paid by the school district. I had one goal: to coach enough clients to match my former monthly salary.
Day after terrifying day passed.
As you can see, I felt a lot of fear during this time.
Fear is a very misunderstood emotion.
It’s easy to misconstrue the meaning of fear and think you should stop doing whatever it is that causes fear. Or, you might go the other way and push through all fear, no matter what, and keep going.
The happy medium is this: listening to the fear, letting it guide you, and still taking the action you’re meant to take.
Think of it this way: If you were driving along in your car and someone started to move into your lane, clearly not seeing you, you would feel a frisson of fear. You’d probably take a quick, instinctive action, like hitting the brakes or moving to another lane.
That’s clean fear.
Used as guidance.
When you’re doing something like starting a coaching practice, prepping a big project, putting yourself out there in the world, doing your creative work, etc., it can be less clear. If this is so terrifying, should I stop? Should I take a different path? Or should I persevere?
What really helps, actually, is to listen to the fear.
You will be surprised at the wisdom, advice, and actionable plans your fear will give you.
It’s an extremely helpful guide in all life circumstances.
We don’t need to be fearless. In fact, being “fearless” is actually suppressing fear, which only leads to stress and even physical pain or illness. Fear is a valuable emotion and not something to be eradicated or judged. All we really have to do is listen, because it’s only when we avoid fear or misinterpret fear that problems arise.
When I was in those first three months as a new coach, I felt fear regularly. It guided me to do a lot of things. It led me to study, learn, prepare, give workshops, spread the word about my business, and write. It led me to coach, stay up late some nights working on my new business, and double-check my work. It helped me put my best foot forward. It helped me know my stuff. It told me when to go back to the drawing board and try again, because I hadn’t quite nailed it.
I didn’t stop moving, ever, during those months. I simply moved along with the fear. It was like a dance – feel it, listen to it, act. Feel it, listen to it, act. Nothing I did happened without fear.
In the end, fear was like my supreme guide – along with inspiration – leading me to create the business I have now. It kicked me in the pants when I needed to change lanes. It woke me up when I was getting too complacent. It fired me up when I was trying to cut a corner that couldn’t be cut. It was an amazing help along the way.
When the end of the third month came, it was time to do the final count.
I nearly passed out with relief and amazement.
I’d done it.
I’d made the same amount, almost to the dollar, of my former salary.
I learned so much in those first few months, and the biggest lesson of all was listen to my fear. We’ve been dancing ever since.