Improve Yourself by Confronting the Biggest Hurdle

The biggest obstacles are the ones we imagine.

Bullet Bob Turley, hall-of-fame pitcher for the New York Yankees, helped found the company I work for and mentored me for many years. If you wanted to improve yourself, he had decades of wisdom to share. I think of him almost every day.

Some years ago, a colleague, Andy Young, was in Naples, Florida, where he had bought an apartment for his family to use. He hadn’t spent much time with Bob and didn’t know him very well, but he wanted to—especially given how often people like me quoted Bob. Bob had built a house not far away, on Marco Island, so Andy got in touch with him and asked if he might stop by and say hello. Of course Bob said yes.

Andy drove to Bob’s house and pulled into the drive. When he got out of the car, he was overwhelmed. The house was gigantic, a mansion by most standards, and sat right on a gorgeous beach.

Andy walked slowly up to the massive front door. He thought about the legend who lived behind it. He thought about what he could possibly say. He stood with his finger near the doorbell and thought about turning around and driving home. He could call and make an excuse.

Instead, he pushed the negative thoughts away, pressed the doorbell, and was let inside.

Within a couple of hours, he and Bob had hit it off. Two weeks later, Andy’s daughter had a key to the house and was free to come and go as she pleased. Andy and Bob became great friends, and Bob was a big mentor for Andy.

Here’s the moral of the story: Every time we really want to improve and grow, we have to take a risk, and that means overcoming a huge hurdle—our own fear.

If you really want to improve, you have to overcome fear. Click To Tweet

Yesterday was July 4, Independence Day. If you’re looking for inspiration for taking big risks and overcoming life-threatening fears, consider the leaders of the revolution who helped create our amazing country.

For the average person in the modern world, though, how does fear show up? Intimidation is the most common way. We feel intimidated by people, by situations, by responsibilities. What’s really happening is that we fear being thought of as inferior, inadequate, or incompetent.

Now, sometimes we actually are. When you try something new, there’s a good chance you’re going to be awkward, even pretty bad. But you have to confront the fear, risk the humiliation, or you’re never going to take the steps that help you prove you can do more and better.

How do you move past the fear? Accept that you’re not perfect. Accept that you might not even be good yet. Try repeating this:

“I might feel out of place.”

“I might say or do the wrong thing.”

“I might bungle it.”

“But the people who are really good used to be really not good.”

“If I mess up, I’m going to laugh it off and keep moving forward.”

It’s okay to not be good. If you get past your fear and work on improving, you’ll be better tomorrow and better than that the next day.

Build the Courage for More First Times

When I decided that I was going to learn how to ride horses and compete in the hunter-jumper world, I was taking lessons with my kids and with the kids of all the other parents in our community. The first time I competed, they were all standing around the ring, videotaping. I went over the first fence and nearly fell out of the saddle. I was swinging back and forth and they were all laughing.

I laughed right along with them—because they were sitting on the sidelines, but I was in the ring.

“That’s the first time,” I said to myself when it was over—not “That’s the last time.” At the next competition, where I rode a little better, I said, “That’s the second time.” I knew that if I could get to the tenth time, I would have improved a lot.

Say “That’s the first time” more than you say “That’s the last time.” Click To Tweet

It’s the first times that make life interesting and exciting.

If you’re ready to improve yourself, it’s time to break through that fear barrier, take a risk, and try.

What are you going to try next? Share in the comments below.

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