Don’t try to be fearless — learn to do it afraid

February 16, 2020

Written By

Tabitha Dumas

One of my favorite things about doing one word and vision board parties with my ladies every year is hearing what people are working on and moving toward. I was speaking recently to a friend at one of my events and she was thinking of having her phrase for the year be “Fearless.” I’ve heard from at least a dozen women over the nine vision board workshops I’ve taught for over 70 people and the idea to do it afraid has come up several times. The fact is…

Fear is often the only thing standing in the way of our calling.

Here’s a snapshot of what I told her after years of working with women who are trying to move past fear to live their purpose. “Y’know, being fearless is probably an unrealistic goal. Is anyone ever really fearless? Those of us pursuing our dreams and doing things other people are scared to do…just do it afraid. And every time it gets a little easier. Then you take that courage into the next situation and fear loses its grip on you over time.”

Practice doesn’t make perfect but it does give us confidence.

Do it afraid. How to overcome fear and live up to your potential. Tabitha Dumas

Giving an etiquette presentation at a Gilbert Sister Cities tea party.

Fear certainly looks different for all of us. It’s not always refusing to get on a airplane or being too afraid to ask for a raise. Here are the things I’ve heard the most often that women are afraid to do:

teach a class

share or publish their writing

host an event in their home

wear something bold or different

What do those fears point to? A fear of what people will think of us.

So you forget the handouts for the class and have to improvise. You publish something with a typo or that you end up changing our mind about. The first guest arrives to your house and–oops!–the toilet didn’t get cleaned! A new top you love gets the “That’s…interesting” comment.

Then you get a workshop participant’s name wrong. You do your speaking gig barefoot because your new shoes are uncomfortable. It’s fifteen minutes before your event starts and you realize you forgot to give people the specific address and your phone is dead so they can’t reach you. You come down with a stomach bug two days before a major presentation. You sweat through your blouse. Your Power Point doesn’t load.

I have experienced all of them and many more and guess what? People were just glad I was there–glad I showed up, glad I owned my humanness. And the show went on.

Do it afraid. How to overcome fear and live up to your potential. Tabitha Dumas

Speaking to 100 job seekers on professional image.

The closer you stick to your purpose, the less you care about other people’s opinions.

A few facts:

  • People won’t notice your flubs and mistakes nearly as much as you think. They’re very gracious and forgiving and they’re just glad you’re putting yourself out there. They might even admire you for it!
  • What feels catastrophic is often a simple fix. People will call your mutual friend to get the directions to the event.
  • Your guests will be so relieved when you mess up or when your house is a little messy or when they see you sweat because it gives them permission to be imperfect, too.

These are also true:

  • Some people will judge and criticize. The critics love to give feedback!
  • You’ll have those in your life just waiting and watching to point out when you mess up. They’re either jealous, have a judgmental personality (which can be used for good or evil) or are genuinely trying to help you. They’ll come out of the woodwork when they see you make a mistake. Just remind yourself, it’s a side effect of an “out there” life.
  • If there are people who think less of you because of your imperfections, you don’t need them in your life anyway.

Let them see you.

I’m not the best house keeper. I stress sweat, even if it’s happy stress. Spelling and grammar are something I work hard on and I make a lot of mistakes. People can overwhelm me, especially when I’m leading an event. My life has a lot of moving parts and I love many things and sometimes that comes across as flaky. I wish I could cover all of those things up. I know there are parts of yourself you wish you could keep hidden. But serving authentically means being seen and it’s OK if people see the real you. That’s who they relate best to anyway. 

Do it afraid. How to overcome fear and live up to your potential. Tabitha Dumas

Giving a presentation on the six Color Codes to a women’s networking group. I told them I hated the Spanx I had on and would never wear that dress again!

So how do you do it afraid?

These are part mindset, part practical. I hope they help!

:: Prepare, prepare, prepare. Pack everything the night before. Have your map printed out. Leave a little early. Practice your talk in the mirror. Time your presentation. Do whatever it takes to feel confident.

:: Hold on tightly to your “why.” My big one is inspiring women to ACT and there’s nothing more gratifying than a woman taking a step toward her greater purpose, whether it’s creating a natural glass cleaner or staring a new business! Your “why” will help you overcome the nervousness and jitters. You have too many important things to do to let fear hold you back!

:: Visit the “worst case scenarios.” Make a plan B, C and D. Have a contingency plan if you have to cancel. Fear comes from the unknown and feeling prepared eradicates a lot of fear.

:: Have a friendly face in the crowd. Make sure a supportive friend will be in attendance or take an assistant with you.

:: Drink calming tea, do deep breathing or take a homeopathic remedy. These Rescue Remedy are my favorite.

:: Be as comfortable as possible. Don’t wear tight shoes or an ill-fitted top and dress in layers to adjust for the temperature. Take a snack so you don’t get low blood sugar. Remember to hydrate.

:: Make sure you really, truly love the people you serve. Some are ahead of you on their journey and you can learn from them. Some are so far behind, they will criticize and tease you because they don’t get it yet. They’ll drive ya crazy if you let them so you better love them or it will be hard to keep going!

:: Keep moving forward toward your purpose. Let the small steps lead to bigger steps. Take on the project you’re not sure you’re ready for. Accept the position that scares you a little. Surround yourself with people who push you. Playing small doesn’t help anyone. The more “out there” you are, the more lives you get to influence. Don’t become complacent.  

:: Give yourself time to recover from your brave steps. Celebrate your courage! Read more here.

The world needs your unique contribution. Don’t let a fear of being seen hold you back. Let them see you in your glorious imperfection.

Make the decision…then ACT!

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Go fly my friend!


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