Pastor Freed used this Mario Andretti quote today in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words – “If everything seems under control, you’re not driving fast enough.”
Mario was a winning driver in Formula 1 and IndyCar racing because he always drove fast enough and managed to stay in control at the same time. Mario’s advice is really about overcoming fears and taking risks to get ahead in racing and in life. When your life is too much “under control” it is usually because you have let fears stop you from exploring what is right beyond your comfort zone.
Here are some great quotes by an impressive array of people about getting beyond our fears –
“Always do what you are afraid to do.” (1841) —Popularized by Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Not to do what you are afraid to do is to guide your life by fear. How much better not to be afraid to do what you believe in doing!” (circa 1881) —Jane Addams
“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” (1960) —Eleanor Roosevelt
“Do one thing every day that scares you.” (1997) —Mary Schmich
You might ask why you should follow this advice. To extend the Andretti thought just a little, if you are allowing your fears (and prejudices) to control and constrict your life, you are not living life to the fullest. It’s as if you never moved from black and white TV to color TV (I know many of my readers don’t even know what black and white TV was). It is as if you went to the Baskins Robbins ice cream store and ordered plain Vanilla every time. Life has more to offer than your fears allow you to experience.
Life offers many rewards in terms of new friendships, new experiences and new knowledge to those who are unafraid to reach out for those things – to take the risk of meeting someone new or trying something new, something that you may be afraid of trying. Sometimes those fears hide under the cloud of prejudice, but the real base of all prejudices is unfounded fear.
I like Mary Schmich’s quote because it is a simple pro-active challenge to think about something that you are not doing because you are afraid. There are many things that really are too dangerous to try and, in those cases, your fears are serving you well. At the same time, there are many instances in life where holding back because of some unfounded fear really is a missed opportunity to make a new friend or have a great new experience, one that you may even learn from.
If you do not take the opportunity to talk to a person who looks different from you, you have missed an opportunity. If you do not go to that sporting event or that show, because its venue is in a neighborhood that you fear going into, you have missed an opportunity. If you turned away from the person who was dressed differently or spoke differently or perhaps had piercings or tattoos because of fear or prejudice, you may have missed the opportunity to meet the most interesting person in the room.
So, let go of your fears and allow yourself to get right to the edge of control in life. Take the risk of not being afraid and you will be richly rewarded with a life that is much more interesting and fulfilling.
Do something that scares you today.