Make space. Find peace. Feel joy.

Step out of your comfort zone

19 November 2008

I have two standard poodles. Kirby is what people in the dog biz call “reactive.” He barks like a mad man at other dogs and sometimes people. He’s afraid and feels that the best defense is a good offense. Pip’s not afraid and doesn’t tend to bark at other dogs (except for a few enemies).

I took this photo of the sweet Kirby yesterday. It’s hard to imagine he can turn into a lunging, barking fool on walks.

What a sweet boy!

I used to walk the dogs together. But I discovered that when Kirby went nuts, Pip did too. If I walked her alone, she would be calm. But if Kirby was barking, Pip supported him with even more vociferous barking. So I’d have two barking, lunging standard poodles at the end of their leashes. Together they outweigh me. I lacked a certain amount of control.

About four years ago, I decided I would walk them separately. That decision came when Kirby lunged at an elderly woman walking by us on the sidewalk and Pip grabbed her coat. After that incident, it seemed irresponsible of me to walk them together.

For four years I was taking three to four walks a day. (In the evening, often the poodles and I will walk with my husband.) Walking so much was an investment of time, even if it was good exercise for me. I would loved to have walked them together and save time, but I was afraid.

Then, last month, our pet sitter, who isn’t a whole lot larger than me, started walking them together and I decided to give it a try.

I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to control them. I was afraid something horrible would happen. You know what? Nothing did. We do run into other dogs on occasion, but my dogs are older now and I’m able to control them.

Phew.

Why am I bringing this up? Because, for me, it’s a great lesson in facing fears, leaving our comfort zones, and taking risks. It can be uncomfortable, but it can also be successful. And if you don’t try it, you’ll be stuck doing the same things, day after day, that might not be optimal for your success.

Are there things that you’re afraid to try? These are scary times economically. But I believe the people who will get through this patch most easily are the ones who are taking risks. I think it’s doubly important for self-employed people like myself not to be paralyzed by fear.

It’s hard to go ahead and invest in training that will allow you to help your clients better and give you more credentials. It’s hard to risk failure by offering a new service if you don’t know it will fly. It’s hard to spend money on marketing if you don’t feel you have money to spend. And, yes, it’s hard to invest in organizing services even when you know that getting more organized will make you more productive.

But here’s the thing: life in these times is hard. Let go of the fear. Live, risk and prosper.

Got something you’d like to do but are afraid to try? Think of me spending twice as much time every day walking my dogs for four years. That’s ridiculous. Put your toe into the water. Try that thing you’ve been wanting to try. Now’s the time. Go for it!

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