Google “conquer your fear quotes” and 14 quadrillion results will appear in 0.87 seconds. Not surprisingly, conquering your fears has been inextricably linked to avoiding failure. Somewhere along the line, someone decided that fear of failure takes top spot in all our psyches. So all the quotes are about acknowledging your fear of failure and overcoming it by pushing through that fear.

“Don’t let the fear of striking out hold you back.” -Babe Ruth

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

“You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Great Wayne Gretzky

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As I sit here writing about fear, four of my friends are competing in the longest, hardest, scariest obstacle course race of their athletic careers. The Spartan Beast is happening in Seattle right now. Just over 12 miles of rugged terrain and 33 obstacles designed to test every single muscle and functional movement you have or ever thought of. After this shit week of rain we’ve had, the course is going to be a slippery, challenging mess. It’s scary because its long and hard and tiring. what if you run out of steam and let down your friends? what if you get mud in your eye? what if you are asked to give a public speech between the rope climb and the monkey bars? and the worse possible living nightmare, what if you rip a hole in your pants?

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I am signed up for that race but, spoiler alert, am not racing. In talking with the Betty to my Veronica a few days ago, I was forced to confront my own fears surrounding participating in this sporting event. Or rather, in my case, not participating. I’ve got this nagging injury that I’ve been working to heal with King Phil (I affectionately call my physical therapist King Phil because he has been elevated to royalty since putting up with my complaints week after week.) When I signed up for this race a few months ago, I had brazenly expected to be fully healed and toeing the line with my friends. This isn’t the case. I am happily pain-free during the nighttime which means I am finally sleeping. But I couldn’t conquer this race without certain re-injury. I know I could do it, but what if I drop off one of the 8′ walls and rupture my Achilles? AND rip a hole in my pants??? This was the fear I was struggling with this week. Not the fear of failure, like the internets are trying to convince me should be my fear.

So I’m making a case that conquering your fears sometimes means NOT doing the thing that scares you.  It’s important to identify what is giving you that ‘shit your pants’ feeling and figuring out the best way to conquer it – either by the doing of the thing or the not doing of the thing. Is this a rational or irrational fear? Does it matter to you? Is it affecting your ability to accomplish your goals? To be your best self? Will you be able to reflect back on your life and wish you had tried or are you comfortable in your balance of fears and challenges? You get to decide as long as you are authentic.

So here’s to my friends conquering their fears by muscling through a TOUGH day. And here’s to one of the world’s greatest scientists for telling it to us straight.

“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.’ -Marie Curie

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